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Samantha Jones

Sam's Notebook

Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com.

Opinion

Foster success

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Well, hereís one thing I can scratch off my to-do list. After fostering a litter of kittens for Good Shepherd Humane Society since April, Gideon and I have cut our cat cache in half. We were elated to find forever homes for all three adoptable kittens last Friday.

Anyone who has been following our foster journey knows our first foster experience didnít go so well. We took in three orphaned kittens who needed more than any human could give them. Even bottle-feeding around the clock, two kittens died on our watch. They call it failure to thrive. It sure felt like failure.

Understandably, we were hesitant to dip our toes back in. Thatís why we were so happy to learn a litter of kittens and their mama needed a home. So long as the mama cat fed and groomed the babies, their chances of survival increased dramatically.

We brought Pookie and her brood home in late April. Pookieís four kittens were so tiny they fit in the palm of my hand. We made a comfortable bed for the little family in our downstairs bathroom, and thatís where they stayed for the first few weeks. Eventually, we let Pookie out to check out the house. She decided to bring her kittens with her, so her exploration was short-lived.

Of course, it didnít take long for the kittens to get big enough to explore on their own. Pookie was overjoyed to intimidate our oldest cats, Ghoulie and Penny. It was quickly becoming a problem. You hear about how hard it is to give away foster animals, but no one really talks about how fostering completely throws off the dynamic among your existing pets.

Once the kittens were weaned, we returned Pookie to the shelter. Everyone at the shelter was supportive of the decision, but I still felt so bad about it! It turns out it was the right choice ó within a month at the shelter, Pookie found a home with a nice elderly lady. Iím learning that these things always work out in the end.

At first, I didnít want to name the kittens. I was afraid of getting attached, as if taking care of them daily wasnít going to lead to some kind of attachment. A month in, we named them: Jason was the biggest one, Freddy was the one with round eyes, Ghostface was the one with an interesting coat and Michael was the runt.

When I say she was the runt, I mean it. Michael got an eye infection the first week we had her. We were instructed to keep her eyes clean and open to abate the infection until she was big enough for medicine. Throughout May and June, I was convinced Michael was going to die.

But life keeps surprising me. Michaelís eye infection eased up and she started growing faster. She was still a month behind the other kittens but she was breathing and playing and eating more than our adult cats. When we took the kittens to get spayed and neutered, Michael was only 0.2 pounds under the required weight for the surgery. We made such progress with her!

Thatís why sheís our first foster fail. We became very attached to her and sheís still got so much room to grow. Her siblings have found new homes, and Michael will continue to grow in ours. While it was sad to say goodbye to the kittens, we know we gave them the best start possible and now they will spend the rest of their lives in loving homes.

I donít think you can ask for more.