Sunday, June 14, 2015
Tails from the Foster Kittens AMA
I want to thank you all for the great questions, this is going to be interesting for me and I hope for you.
catonsvillecats asked: My question is a hard one but I've been wrestling with it this past half year. Has there ever been a time when you just had to stop fostering for some period, in order to cope with the rest of your life, and how did you say NO and stand it?? We stopped in the winter and I'm just not ready yet to start again, and I'm feeling rather guilty....
I have been incredibly lucky that so far *knock wood* that hasn't completely happened. I had to stop when we moved from our old house to this one, but that was pretty obviously a short term thing with an obvious end date. I did have a time when I had two sets of kittens and I was overwhelmed in my own life and I wasn't able to give both sets the full attention they needed and one set was fearful so I asked the shelter to take them back and give them to someone else to help tame them and that broke me. I felt quite a bit of guilt about that one. I kept reminding myself that I can not save them all, and I did what I thought was right. Sometimes taking a step out of yourself and imagine what advice you would give to a friend in your situation can help clarify what you are facing.
Please do not feel guilty for not fostering while struggling. Restore yourself, you will eventually be ready and you will be in a position to do it with a full heart and soul.. if you force yourself into it you won't be doing them or yourself any good as you will completely burn out.
Eileen asked: I only been reading your blog for a year, maybe two and I'm wondering if any of the crew are foster fails that you simply couldn't let go? What inspired you to start fostering to being with...and how many cats were in your home at the time?
ALL of The Crew are foster failures. When I started fostering I had two cats, Emerald (aka Em) and Ollie. I promised my husband I wouldn't keep any of the kittens. Jack came to me in the third litter. He nursed on my ear, he was SOO sweet, he was amazing.. but I returned him. I cried and cried that night and my husband told me to go and get him. Muff and Eli were the product of a pretty stressful experience later in the year and came with their brother Kodi who passed shortly afterwards. Twee was my husband's 'fault' and I made him adopt her so it would be official. Kit picked my husband and I would have made him adopt her as well but he already proved he would so I did. Fleurp refused to leave, she is pretty stubborn and really cute so I gave in. Skippy was actually adopted out by a couple who I warned that he might have life long health issues; when he got a simple URI they returned him. By that time he was older and people wanted kittens. I went back and forth to the shelter for almost two weeks before I gave up and brought him back home... Every one of The Crew from Twee on were fostered as only kittens at one point, and from there I vowed never ever to take a single kitten again. They must join a group and the group must stay together.. I respect my own weakness..
as for inspired.. (see next answer)
Rene asked: I was wondering how and when you decided to start fostering kittens?
Interestingly enough I was reading a cat magazine that talked about fostering around 1999/2000. I was volunteering at the shelter at the time and I talked to the woman who was running the shelter at the time about the article and if they might consider creating a foster program, but she was not interested. I think she was afraid of liability issues. A few years later, and with a new manager, the shelter created a fostering program and I signed right up and went to the first orientation, signed the paperwork and took home a litter that night.
Eileen also asked: I've never spayed/neutered a cat before the age of six months, that seems to be the norm for the vet clinics here. How old will the fosters be when they are ready for the operation?
How old the kittens have to be is a question I get a lot. The shelter does pediatric neutering, which is when you neuter kittens once they hit two pounds, although they prefer to do them a little later at 2.5 lbs. Vets around here prefer to have their clients weight until the kittens are older and generally wait until after the vaccines are complete, or do the surgery with the last round of boosters. One local vet won't neuter cats until they hit four pounds. My foster kittens generally go back when they are between 10-12 weeks. The more obnoxious they are, the sooner I send them back - because it tells me they are done learning what they have to learn at Casa de Gato and they need more than I can provide, like a house to run in and a human to snuggle up to at night.
I have seen the neutering procedure done at pretty much every stage of a cat's life since I spent a couple of years working as a receptionist at a vet, and the younger they are done, the faster they recover. Most of the 2.5 lb kittens neutered wake up and aren't even aware that something happened unless there is an excessive amount of glue used to close the wound and it feels funny.
Rene asked: What do you think about using clay based litter (related to it being eco friendly for the earth)?
I like that there are companies out there investigating other options for litter. I am not a fan of the idea that the earth is being strip-mined for any product, but there are a lot of things in our lives that are quite dependant on strip mining - including the computers. I am constantly giving alternative litters a try - having reviewed quite a number of them on my blog - but I have yet to find one that works as well or as efficiently as regular ol unscented clumping clay litter. I do my best to get the brands that have as little dust as possible since the dust can cause respiratory problems, and kitties have their lungs so much closer to the litter on a regular basis.
Katiez Furry Mewz asked: Can I rub that tummy??? What camera do you use? I broke the battery door on my camera and need a new one...
Only if you offer treats and are patient. :)
I am using a Nikon D3000 DSLR camera that I found on clearance at Staples one day for about $200. Most of the time I use the standard lens that came with it and I use it on auto mode. I am the type of photographer people in photography are annoyed with. I took a photography class in high school and one of my photographs won a local photography contest - although a lot of the beauty in the photo was in the processing (yes, this was back in the day of lightrooms and chemicals) Sadly my eyes aren't what they used to be, which is why my camera is on auto mode most of the time. I did just acquire a new-to-me Nikon DSLR which I am waiting for, and I can't wait to get my hands on it.
A lot of experts in the land of photography will tell you that it isn't the camera but the skill of the photographer, but I will say that having a camera that actually focuses on what you want it to (my point and shoot and my cellphone only get it right half the time) and lets you adjust the focal length (the amount of the photo that is in focus) are two high priorities of mine. My new camera is going to have a viewfinder too.. which will make my eyes happy
Edie asked: If I show up at your door with my own happy bear (it's actually a dog) will I be able to join Kitten Fight Club?
Sure! I'll even let you bunk in the kitten room. I'd say sleep, but chances of that happening... #becausekittens
Wendy asked: What do you want in your ideal foster room?
Okay, that might not be exactly what Wendy asked, because apparently I can't find the original question, but it was in spirit. I've actually been thinking of this for quite some time because.. well goodness truth be told I think about it a lot in general. Fostering kittens is my hobby, but it is also my therapy and my solace. The kitten room was actually built into the basement so I would have a space to do it. There are a lot of things I wish I had in that room that just aren't possible, like more sunlight..
But, in my ideal foster room, there would be a source of water. I would KILL for a sink in that room to be able to wash things - and kittens, but since it is in the basement it probably won't happen. Along the lines a small washing machine and dishwasher to wash the cat food bowls would also rock. I have toyed with the idea of a small fridge for medication so I wouldn't have to walk all the way back upstairs because I constantly forget refrigerated medications. I would also really like a wall of built in cabinets. I like my ikea cabinet but it would be so nice if I had more storage. When building those cabinets in I would probably put a cage or two in there as well for cage fostering. My cage takes up so much floor space, and while it is collapsible I try to keep all foster supplies in that room to keep cross contamination with my own cats at a minimum so even if I break it down it takes up space. The vinyl floor is nice for easy cleaning and durability.
I don't have a real ceiling in that room, so the rafters are exposed. I would like a ceiling so I could put up a climbing wall for the kittens and/or a taller climbing tree and not have to worry about kittens getting into places I can't get them.
I've also considered a catio.. this is because of the limited sunlight in that room and getting some fresh air in the room more easily. I fear just opening the windows because I'm not sure if cats or kittens will just push through the screen (I used to own a cat who did that) but that is probably more of a pipe dream than the washing machine.
and what I wouldn't give for a couch that kittens can't hide under.
Ellen asked: They are so cute. My question is -can you keep them all?
Ha ha ha.. yeah, no. even I can't care for 400 kittens..
Well this was fun. If I missed your question or you come up with another, feel free to comment, just throw AMA in there and I'll do another one of these when I get a few more questions.