Adventures in fostering kittens
Fellow cat owners know we don’t really own our felines. Those cats have us wrapped around their little paws. They know it and we know it. That was true when Gideon and I had four cats at home, and it’s even more evident now that we are a house of nine cats.
To be fair, just four of the cats claim us. The other five, mama cat Pookie and her four kittens, are only staying with us for a little while. We are fostering Pookie and her brood for Good Shepherd Humane Society, a long-held dream of mine.
In fact, the main reason I wanted to buy a house last year was so we could have as many cats as we wanted. Regular readers of this column are probably saying, “That’s way too many cats.” Touché.
Our first foster kittens came to us last August, just two weeks after we closed on the house. There were three of them, whom we named Jaws, LG and Squeaky. We took them in at two weeks old. They didn’t have a mama, so we bottle-fed them around the clock.
Sadly, two of the kittens died shortly after they came under our care. They call it failure to thrive. Even knowing it could happen, we were distraught when they died. We buried them in our back yard, creating our very own pet cemetery.
Jaws powered through and we decided to keep her. She’s the first longhaired cat I’ve ever had and she’s got this almost aristocratic personality. Gideon and I joke that she has other high society cats over for tea when we are at work. We’re sure they gossip about us. Unlike any other cat I’ve ever met, Jaws knows exactly who she is and what she wants. We officially adopted her in January.
Jaws didn’t know how good she had it until we brought Pookie and company home. She was enjoying being the baby, and probably all the peace and quiet. If you don’t know anything about 2-week-old kittens, picture a blind rat-like creature that squeals constantly. That’s what we were dealing with until just a few days ago when the runt of the litter opened its eyes.
The kittens are easy to care for, because Pookie does almost all the work. She feeds her babies, cleans them and even helps facilitate their poops. We’ll spare you the details on that. It’s definitely not a job for the faint of heart.
Gideon and I keep their area clean, changing out their towel and wiping everything down once a day. Over the past few days, we’ve been bringing the kittens upstairs so they can start to interact with our cats. Most of the time our cats sniff the kittens and walk away.
Pookie does not like this, so she works hard to intimidate our cats. She’s had success with Ghoulie and Aramis, but Jaws stands her ground. Pookie will come up to Jaws and howl at her, and Jaws just sits there staring, almost as if she’s saying, “What? What are you going to do?” It’s pretty funny considering Jaws is our youngest cat, not even a year old yet, and she’s the one taking on this moody mama.
Slowly but surely, the cats are getting used to each other. Gideon and I hope to integrate the kittens into our household so that they get along well with other cats, significantly increasing their chances of getting adopted. We didn’t name them at first, afraid we’d get attached and they’d die. In an act of good faith, we gave them all names this past weekend.
So if you’re interested in adopting little Michael Myers, sweet Jason Voorhees, angelic Freddy Krueger or baby Ghostface, please let me know. We’d love to have homes for all the kittens lined up as soon as possible. Then we can open our home to more babies that need a home — wash, rinse, repeat.
This is the good life.