Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Three out of the five in the litter of foster kittens reached spay and neuter surgery weight on Monday and went through surgery on Tuesday. Here's a picture of Meg that we didn't use for the shelter website for obvious reasons. I chose to use names of characters from Dickens's novels, probably because I recently finished reading Dan Simmons's book Drood which has Dickens as a character. I realized that Dickens has awesome male character names but the female names and characters leave something to be desired. The litter was named Pip, Nicholas, Oliver, Bella and Meg. Bella and Nicholas are awaiting another foster home to get up to surgery weight while I have a new litter of 5 much more at risk foster kittens at home. The litter I have was with their mom waiting for foster for over a week and while waiting the mom got sick with upper respiratory infection. The kittens were at a healthy weight and were eating on their own so we separated them and so far they are doing fine. Mom can focus on getting better herself now. In the meantime, I will worry about Bella and Nicholas until they are out into a new foster home.

So, this brings me to the purpose of this post. Pretty much every shelter in the country is inundated with kittens and cats at this time of year. Foster parents are crucial to keeping these animals healthy until they are able to be adopted. Foster families are also needed for animals recovering from illness or injuries and other special circumstances like pregnancy watches in guinea pigs. Many rescues use foster families instead of having shelter space. I haven't ever heard of any shelter saying they have enough foster volunteers. Foster volunteering is one of the most flexible of volunteer positions at AHS. You choose who you want to foster including what type of animal and what situations and when you want to do it and how long. To stay active you only have to foster a few times a year. You do have to apply and go through a training, but all of that is set up to be very convenient. It is one of the most emotionally satisfying volunteer experiences I've ever had, it's great fun, and you can cuddle kittens all you want. As someone who loves her three cats but doesn't have a single lap cat amongt them, I can tell you that cuddling kittens is one of the great stress relievers of this world. Fostering can be tough at times but if you look back at my experiences, you have to remember that in the past I was taking kittens that I wasn't comfortable sending out with regular foster families. All of the kittens we send out for foster here are healthy body weights and if they don't have mom with them are doing fine on their own. Fostering a litter with a mom is a nice break as mom does most of the work for you. All you need is patience, an open heart and a room you can clean and where you keep them separate from your resident pets. If you live in the Twin Cities are and would like to explore becoming a foster volunteer, please visit the Animal Humane Society website at Make sure you note that you are looking to be a foster volunteer as that process is a little different from our regular on-site volunteer opportunities. If you live in another area, you can find local rescues and shelters at Petfinder. There are shelters to match any animal lover's philosophy, so if the first one you find isn't a good match, you should be able to find one that's better.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Why it took me four nights to finish the last 20 pages of Ben Parzybok's Couch! (What you aren't seeing is one of the grey kittens attacking the hand holding the book every time I started to read.)

Now I'm trying to read Holly Black's The Poison Eaters and finding the kittens are fascinated by the shiny cover.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Here are photos of a new litter of five foster kittens that I brought home for socialization and a little weight gain. We have one buff tabby, one orange tabby, a solid grey spitfire and two other grey ones with white paws and bellies. They were hissing and spitting on Thursday night when I brought them home. I'm keeping them in a large dog kennel to get them used to being handled and being around people.

A couple of the kittens launched themselves at the closed door of the kennel when they spotted the dogs, spitting and hissing. It scared the dogs so much I had to walk them past the kennel to get them out of the room again. I wore leather gardening gloves at first but during the first day was already able to stop using them.

Most of the kittens are already purring up a storm when they are held. All of them startle easily and sometimes still hiss when surprised.

The solid grey kitten is the hold out and still hisses when you reach in to pick him up. Alan spent some extra time with him today. When given the choice of moving off our laps, though, he prefers to stay put rather than moving back into his safe kennel space and he does seem to enjoy being petted.