Thursday, July 9, 2009

You can not save them all

Well sadly Yippy went back to the shelter this morning. I couldn't figure out why Skippy would not leave her alone while she was out of the cage, but played very nicely with her when she first showed up, and when she was in the cage:



But then I realized that Skippy's prey drive was very very strong. He chases ANYTHING that moves and what more fun to chase than a living being. Yip spent most of her days in the cage so when she got out, she just wanted to flex her muscles and run. This resulted in some play, but when she would escape his capture and take off again, he went into overdrive and things got ugly. He never hurt her, but it did get to the point where I felt the need to step in before he got any further into predator mode. There are very few noises so tearing to the heart as a kitten crying out while being attacked.

I tried many different things to help them co-exist, but fighting against nature is a pointless battle. I contacted the shelter and arranged for Yip to find a new foster home where she wouldn't be harassed. I thought about keeping her as she only has a couple of weeks till she is old enough, but I am very overwhelmed with the orphans as it is, that I'm actually looking forward for Skippy to go back (as much as I adore him)

Bringing her back felt so wrong. My emotional side felt that there was more I could do, that there were other things to try, and that I was 'giving up' and basically doing the wrong thing. I knew my emotions were wrong. I knew that the shelter would take care of her and find her a home where she wouldn't be harassed, and where her foster parents would have more time to snuggle and play with her (which I am severely lacking with Skippy's demands, and the demands of the orphans, and the demands of my own crew)

There are times when doing the thing that feels wrong is the right thing to do. You (ok I) just have to learn to accept this.

I wasn't going to post about this right away, but I got a comment on a post I made several years ago about a foster mom who had a sick kitten:

You seem like an expert at fostering! I just picked up a foster kitty last Thursday that was about 7 weeks old. She weighed 2.9 lbs. She was very lively the first day, then had diarrhea every day after and started sneezing and having watery eyes. When I took her back to the shelter for an exam they said she had lost 9 oz. But didn't want to give her anything for her eyes because it might cause more diarrhea. Two days later she had stopped drinking and playing and mostly slept. She did eat better but everytime she did she had diarrhea. I got permission to take her to the emergency vet and for her to stay there until the shelter picked her up the next morning. Did I do the right thing leaving her at the vet? I kept thinking that she wasn't getting better staying with me, but I feel like I abandoned her. Of course, when we got to the vet she seemed livelier (like when you take your car in and they can't replicate the problem). Should I have kept working with her in the hopes she would get better on her own? When is it the right time to release the kitty back to the shelter?


Interesting how things like this happen. While this is not the same set of circumstances, it is the same emotional feelings.

Since the poster did not leave a way of replying, I thought I would reply here. I'm often saying that all questions regarding cats have been asked before, and will be asked again, so even if the original situation has resolved, it never hurts to add another opinion to the situation because it will come up again.

so yes, you very much did the right thing. You did the right thing at every step. Could you have done more? I don't know. From only the information you gave me I could suggest a few other things for you to have tried, but I would be uncomfortable suggesting them with out more information. Diarrhea is a very common problem, and usually not much of an issue - except for the young, the infirm and the elderly just as it is in humans. Young kittens do not have very many reserves and diarrhea for a couple of days can be dangerous as it drains the kitten of fluids and can dehydrate the kitten, and it drains the kitten of nutrients since food does not have time to be fully absorbed.

Did you do the right thing by leaving the kitten at the vet? Yes. They are much better equipped to handle the situation if it deteriorates. They have foods that are easier on the system, and they have fluids they can give to help keep the kitten hydrated.

Why did the kitten seem to improve when you brought it to the vet? well this is a testament to how comfortable the kitten is with you. Cats / Kittens will do everything they can to hide illnesses. When the kitten was comfortable at the house, it felt a little more able to indulge itself in it's illness. When you took it out of it's comfort zone, the kitten felt the need to work to hide how bad it was feeling. It is so very very common - and happens to me ALL THE TIME! Often I joke with the shelter staff that I just needed to bring the kitten in to fix it.

What you are feeling is completely normal. We've all been there at one time or another. I felt I was abandoning Yip because I could not get Skippy to not chase her. But since we can not save them all, sometimes you have to put them in more capable hands. It's hard to admit that - but with each experience you learn to help you deal with the next one. We have to work with the system we are in. Your shelter has proceedures in place and you do have to work with them, because after all, the kitten is still theirs.

Thank you for caring for that little kitten. Thank you for caring. I hope this will not put you off fostering. It is heart breaking when it goes wrong, but it can be so very rewarding when it goes right.
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