Thursday, February 25, 2016

Fostering kittens: a labor of love

For the first time in 2 years, there are no foster animals at my house. It seems....strange.

Two years ago, I was asked to help foster orphan kittens for our local humane society.  I agreed, of course. Then began the steady stream of little babies who needed bottle feeding, cleaning and lots of love.

The most memorable fosters I've had is the litter of seven very tiny kittens who were found in a box of garbage at the county landfill. Someone had dumped them there, covered in trash, then piled garbage bags on top the box. A county employee found them, just as he was getting ready to push the garbage into a pit for burning. He heard them crying and discovered them. The babies were rushed to the local animal control...which was right next to the landfill. Yep....the asshat who abandoned them outside in February, covered in garbage, to freeze and die drove right past animal control to do it. The bad karma bus has a permanent stop at their house, I'm sure. Who the hell does that???

I was at breakfast at Waffle House with my family when I received the emergency phone call. "This is Helen from the Humane Society. They've found a litter of kittens that are half frozen to death. Can you go get them now? They might not make it. We have no idea when they last ate or how long they were outside.''

My husband -- bless him -- understood, and we left immediately. The AC officers had put them in a
box with blankets in front of a heater. The poor things were so tiny, eyes still closed, and not moving much. I rushed them home. They stank like garbage, and were cold to the touch. I was really afraid they might all die. My husband got kitten formula ready while I took each kitten one at a time and massaged their bodies and warmed them. Belle, my chihuahua, went into mother mode immediately. She laid down, licking and warming them after I had massaged them and wiped their little bottoms to help them potty (small kittens cannot eliminate by themselves....their mamas lick them so they can potty. Without help, they will die because they can't go to the bathroom). Then I bottle fed the 7 little babies. Soon, with full bellies, they were all piled up on a fuzzy blanket with a heating pad underneath. It became a waiting game at that point.  They would either begin to recover, or they would die. But at least they wouldn't die covered in garbage in the freezing cold.

Amazingly, all 7 kittens survived...and all were adopted to furever homes several weeks later.

Two are now my older son and his wife adopted two from this litter. Spot and Grace are pictured at the left. And below as they are today. The funniest part is that Spot started out with 3 large spots on his head. As a grown kitty, his spots have disappeared. So he is a totally white cat....named Spot. Makes me smile every time I think about it. :) They are wonderful kitties and have a happy, loving home.

Knowing that 7 beautiful kitties who were thrown out in the garbage fought to survive and all went to loving homes made all the hours spent bottle feeding, cleaning and training 7 little fur faces totally worth it. I remember all those early mornings setting my phone alarm to wake me to feed kittens. With 7, as soon as I finished feeding the last one, it was nearly time to start over at the beginning and feed them again. :)

I have fostered many kittens over the past 2 years. I loved them all, and then sent them to their furever homes. Usually they come to my house sick and abandoned, and leave 8 to 12 weeks later fully trained, happy, healthy kittens ready to grow up with a family somewhere else. My babies have been transported all over the east coast, and occasionally I hear from their new families about how much they love them. Warms my heart!

Kitten season is just around the bend. My home will not be empty of fosters for long. Belle is ready to love on babies that come in the door. As far as I know she has never had puppies, but she truly loves and protects the kittens that I foster. She frantically worries when they start peeping from hunger, or each time they protest when I'm cleaning their bottoms or faces after a feeding. She isn't that fond of our adult, pet cats, so my husband and I have a running joke that someone really ought to tell her that kittens become cats. :)

It's a labor of love. I wouldn't give up fostering for anything! If you are an animal lover, please consider volunteering or donating to your local Humane Society. HS volunteers work hard, but they save a lot of lives and provide healthy, well trained pets for many families! :)

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