Follow my story of becoming a foster mom to feral cats and kittens
I am a volunteer for a couple animal rescues and I foster kittens in the Pittsburgh area. I also assist on an "as needed" basis with TNR to help the feral cats in the area. I am also a CPP (chronic pain patient) suffering with back pain, disk degenerative disease, sciatica, osteoarthritis, and an autoimmune disease - taking care of foster kittens is my THERAPY!
I haven’t posted in a while as I have been dealing with a foster mom’s nightmare – ringworm!!! I think I am finally at the end of this. Will know soon after retesting. I’ve been spending most of my time cleaning the foster room, sanitizing with bleach and sulfur dipping the kittens. Ringworm SUCKS!
Even with ringworm, I still have lots of fun with my fosters. We can play even when they have to be crated. Catnip bubbles are great for those times! I have some video of the kittens popping bubbles with their noses that I need to upload. It’s super cute!
Other big news is I picked up another foster. I really did “pick her up”, right off of my deck! I found her outside in the rain and cold. I took her in with plans to foster her, but she has become my first “foster fail” as she has bonded with my adult cat Henrietta. More to come and lots of cute pictures of Winnie and Henrietta!
After I took six of my foster kittens to the vet for their first checkup, they were given a dose of dewormer with a second dose that I would give them at home in 14 days. The vet was very concerned about how thin the Countess was, and that she has little muscle mass in her back and you could feel the bones in her spine! I didn’t understand why when she was eating so much she was so thin and frail. She gave her a dose of dewormer, and I also followed up at home with a second dewormer. I had no knowledge about any kind of worm parasites so I didn’t know what to expect. Within a few days I found this in the litter box – a dead roundworm! I found a couple more in the next few days also. Although disgusting, this is good news. These nasty parasites live in cats bellies and intestines. Seeing them dead in the litter box means that they are no longer living inside the Countess!
I noticed last week that little Ernie’s eye didn’t look right. His one eye looked cloudy and blue.
He didn’t have any discharge coming from his eye like he would with a upper respitory infection, but I knew there was a problem. I took him out to the clinic I volunteer with and Ernie saw the vet. He did have a condition they call “cloudy eye”, and he was prescribed antibiotics. Here is a good link I found with information on “cloudy eye” Cloudy eye in Cats.
Taking Ernie to the vet and giving him his medication has been a challenge since Ernie is still a little hissy with me. Ernie and his brother Bert were the first two kittens I got from my group of seven Smock barn kittens. Ernie has always been fearful of humans and likes to hide behind his outgoing brother Bert. The poor little guy did not enjoy the car ride to the vet, or the attention and love he was given at the clinic when several of the volunteers held and cuddled him. Ernie is a hisser! He will hiss but he won’t swat at or try to scratch you, so once you pick him up he is fine, but he does tense up in fear.
After putting the antibiotic in Ernie’s eye, I decided to use my “toothbrush grooming” method on Ernie. As you can see in this video, Ernie really enjoyed it! I was hoping this meant Ernie would finally stop hissing at me, but not five minutes after I finished this video and put Ernie down, when I attempted to pet him inside the kitty playpen, Ernie hissed at me again! I’ll just have to keep working with Ernie until he gets over his fear of humans.
My kitten Abby Cadabby has gotten quite attached to me, and I like her a lot too! She follows me around and would much rather sit on my lap than play with the kittens. She also has the cutest little meow. Listen to her.
The first week I had my foster kittens, I kept them all in a pet playpen. In the second week I let them out to play and for a week now just let them have free roam of my garage (which I kitten-proofed). After doing some more reading on fostering, I found this is a mistake and can cause the still skittish kittens to become “indoor ferals”. There’s no incentive for them to socialize. There is always unlimited food and a place to hide if they don’t want to interact with humans.
This seemed to be true with five of my seven foster kittens! Bert and Abby Cadabby came around very quick, don’t run at all from me and and are super social and friendly. They seem to spend the most time together, and Bert is often too rough with the other kittens, or will keep diving on top of the playpen caving it in while they are in it. I found it’s best to keep Bert and Abby separate from the other kittens. Playtime when I am in the room they can all be together, but when I am not in the room, Bert and Abby go in a separate cage that I just got last week. This is a three tier cage with shelves and a hammock.
Within the playpen I have Ernie, Oscar, Clementine and the Countess. My little tortie is still running around the garage and I haven’t caught her yet! As soon as I do she is going in the playpen. I am sure the little Countess misses her because they are BFF! While the kittens are in the playpen, it’s so much easier to pet and interact with them. Ernie was hissing at me today but did let me pet him. Oscar is still friendly with me but a little skittish. Today I made great progress with Clementine!
Clementine kept letting me pet her, so I picked her up no problem. I then gave her a “toothbrush grooming” session, and just like with Oscar and the other, this worked like a charm! I got to check to see if Clementine really was a girl or if I guessed wrong and she is a boy. Clementine is definitely a girl!!! The poor little girl must of really gotten herself into something back on the farm, because she is dirty! She had black dirt on her little nose and on her bottom legs. She needs a nice warm bath. I haven’t bathed any of my fosters yet as I didn’t want it to be a traumatic experience for them, but I think they are ready now so that is on my kitten to do list!
Watching kittens play is very entertaining. I love their little different personalities, and I am very happy when I see my once hissy spitty foster kittens coming around and turning into the loveable, playful kittens they were meant to be!
Here is a cute video I recorded today of Bert, Abby Cadabby and Oscar! Bert is giving his sister Abby Cadabby some cuddles and neck biting on the Ikea bed when Oscar sneaks in and jacks their pillow! Abby Cadabby is not too happy about this!
I spent several hours with the kittens today. I took my work laptop with me and the plan was just to sit in the room with them and get some work done to help with their socialization of being around humans and noise. It didn’t take long before the ringleader Bert figured out if he stood on my laptop it would make a loud beeping noise. Soon after Bert stood on my laptop, a few of the other kittens all had to have a turn and jump on the laptop. Here is Clementine having her turn.
I also spent some time with who I call “the Ernie’s”. The Ernie’s are the three black and white kittens I have. At first, I couldn’t tell them apart, but I knew for sure one was a boy that I named Ernie, and that’s how “the Ernie’s” came about. Their real names are Ernie, Oscar, and Clementine – keeping with my Sesame Street naming theme for these foster babies.
The Ernie’s still run and hide when I come into the room and they don’t want me to hold or pet them. Thankfully they are all past the hissy stage, so they are coming along. Today was the first time I was able to get a hold of Oscar for some cuddling. Oscar was eating only a few inches away from me, so while he was close, I grabbed him and wrapped him up like a burrito in a baby blanket. At first he really was Oscar the Grouch. He was NOT happy, his heart was pounding and his body was all tensed up. So I started using a toothbrush to mimic his mother grooming him, and brushed him on his head and under his chin with the toothbrush. Again, this worked like magic and within 2-3 minutes, Oscar was no longer a grouch and was enjoying the grooming. He even let me rub his belly! I loosed up the blankets completely, and Oscar stayed in my lap. This is huge progress with him made in a few minutes!
The Ernie’s will play with toys when I am in the room, but at a distance from me. I have been using a laser pointer to get them to play and to inch closer and closer to me.
Bert was running around like a crazy boy as usual. He just started this new thing he does where he takes a flying dive on top of the playpen. When the other kittens get on top of the playpen, they just jump up and it’s pretty quiet. But because Bert runs and dives on the playpen, when he does it, it’s pretty loud.
Watch this video and you will hear Bert do his flying dive and then see what happens next!!!