Friday, 3 August 2012

On being a foster momma to cats

So fostering these kittens hasn't quite turned out to be the walk in the park that we first thought, and if you follow me on Twitter, you'll know there's been more than a small amount of drama and heartbreak, but more on that in a minute. First I wanted to focus on the positive, namely how freaking cute day old kittens are, and how rewarding it is to see them get fat and start to open their eyes and crawl around and turn into a mess of wriggly purrs when you tickle their bellies (Lopes, Ima looking at you).

Lopes is the big tabby girl with the baby blues, Tionne's the little spoon and Morissey is the ginger tom.
All photos from mine and Hubby's instagrams.

Momma Misha is a bit of an oddity, you're not really supposed to get ginger females for some reason, but my goodness is she a beauty, she's been super affectionate and friendly for the most part, despite clearly being through the wars at some point (she's got a majorly broken tale). But she's really struggled with being a momma. Best guesses place her at about 18 months, which is super young, and it's impossible to know what happened throughout and how healthy she's been during her pregnancy, and the kittens were probably born prematurely, but for whatever reason, the kittens weren't feeding well, and before we got to the vets to sort it out (literally overnight) Parker and Chili passed away. They were the runts of the litter, and basically never meant to be, but my god if that wasn't the most heartbreaking day of my life.

I sobbed through the entire visit to the vets, where the vet told us, in as nice a way as possible, that they just weren't very strong kittens, and realistically, none of them would survive. She gave them some antibiotics and us some kitten formula and we began to hand feed them, which was a bit of mammoth task to undertake. Being so small they could only take on a few ml each feed (and struggled to take the bottle meaning we had to resort to drops from a syringe a lot of the time), and needed feeding every few hours, so basically we've spent the last few weeks being shattered from being up half the night.

Lopes has been feeding like an absolute champion, positively guzzling from the bottle, and getting really lovely and fat, almost up to her target weight! Tionne and Morissey on the other hand were not doing so well, and based on what the vet said, we weren't exactly hopeful. So whilst it wasn't a huge shock when Morissey died on Monday and Tionne followed on Tuesday, it was still desperately sad. They're all buried in our garden now and hopefully finally at peace. We did absolutely everything we could for them, but sometimes it's just not meant to be, not matter how awful it is to experience.

Even before they died, we'd pretty much decided we needed to take the kittens back to the center, because we just weren't going to be at home enough to keep up a good feeding schedule (Hubby had been working from home to accommodate them), but their deaths were, to use an awfully inappropriate expression, the final nails in the coffin :(

So the last remaining kitten Lopes and momma Misha left, we prepared to take them back on Wednesday, but not before yet more drama could occur. When trying to give Misha her dinner on Tuesday night, one of our house cats had snuck upstairs and scratched at the bedroom door. Misha absolutely FREAKED at the sound/smell of another cat, which she perceived as a threat, and in her panic, attacked me. The centre think she did this because she thought I could protect her and her baby, so wanted to be close to me, but she was in attack mode so it didn't really work out. Whatever her reasons, my face took a good mauling and I was pretty shook up by the whole thing (understatement). Poor Hubby had to get his best First Aider hat on when confronted with me screaming, covered in blood, and looked after me like a trooper - usually he's terrible in a crisis!

I haven't taken any pictures of my face because whilst it's cleaned up a lot better, it's still a bit of a mess, although the majority of the wounds are fairly superficial. She got my scalp, ear, cheek, neck, forehead, wrist, and really badly on my chin, which is where all the blood was coming from. Hopefully none of it will scar too badly, but I was more upset that it meant I wasn't able to give blood on Wednesday because of the infection risk.

Phew, a super long post I know, but it's been a bit of a crazy 2 weeks. Emotionally & physically tiring, and emotionally & physically painful (ouch), it's been a rough old induction into the world of fostering cats and kittens. I'm not sure we'll rush back to do it again, but I wouldn't rule it out, despite our awful experiences. It might be possible for us to take Lopes back for the last few weeks of her foster-hood, once she's weaned and a bit more independent, which would be wonderful because we did grow rather attached to her (to them all really), but whilst I don't blame Misha for it, I don't think I would be comfortable taking her back after what happened.

In all of this, we've tried to still give lots of love to our two kitties, and not have them suffer for the experience. I think they've coped alright :)


  1. High fiving Kofi! Awesome.

    I'm so proud of what we did, it was bloody hard work, but we committed as best we could to the feeds and the whole process of it all. We did darned well with what we had!


  2. I really feel for you where the cat attack is concerned, even the smallest of scratches hurt BAD. My Lily is pretty fond of getting scratch happy, I never heard of the ginger female thing before but maybe that's where her "special personality" comes from then!

    You did a really good job and shouldn't feel bad, not making light of it cos I would of been devastated too but its the circle of life! When my cats at home had litters we had a lot of them pass away, I know how sad it is. May they all RIP and I wish the best for Misha & Lopes.


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