When my usually welcoming cat bolted away from the door, I knew my husband must be bringing something foreign and unfamiliar into our home. After I approached the door to investigate the source of commotion, I wasn’t prepared to see several pairs of eyes staring back at me through a crate. I naturally presumed that bringing home a nursing mother cat with six tiny 10-day-old kittens was something that my husband would have thought to run by me. In this case, I was mistaken.
Despite the initial element of surprise, let’s be honest – who can resist a bunch of adorable, smallest-things-you’ve-ever-seen, kittens? Their names were Apple, Jefferey, Kenny, Rogue, Malcolm and Avery. The mother was Kylie. Although this was not our first bash at fostering from our local animal shelter, this was the first nursing mother that we had taken on. The ratio of humans to cats in our home was slightly daunting. Including our own cat that we had previously adopted from the shelter, we were outnumbered 2-8. Let the fun begin…
The aim of the game here was to provide the kittens with all the perks that come with being in a home environment until they reach 2 pounds. Then they are able to be spayed/neutered and finally placed up for adoption.
At first, having the mother cat present meant that she did pretty much all of the work in the early stages. She even stimulated them to go to the bathroom, leaving us with minimal duties. Soon, however, all the kittens were eating solid food and were litter trained, relieving Mama Kylie of her duties. Our responsibilities from that point on consisted primarily of feeding, litter duties, daily weigh-ins, and best of all, playtime!
This furry bunch provided us with endless amusement for the several months that we cared for them. Of course they were in everything, on everything and at times seemed to be in multiple places at once. I walked into the bathroom once to find two swinging from the shower curtain and one meowing in an empty bath tub. Sometimes maintaining crowd control was a hassle, but one look at their innocent faces turned things around. Every day, or every minute they weren’t sleeping I should say, they provided us with laughter and adorable entertainment with all their kitten shenanigans. I’d fallen in love with each and every one of them. This wasn’t to say I didn’t have my favorite…
My little Apple. Apple stole my heart from the first day with her larger than life personality. With each daily weigh-in I found myself willing the numbers to slow down. I knew that it would be difficult to see them leave when that day finally came. Especially my Apple. My husband and I discussed the possibly of keeping her over and over again. Finally, we knew we had to let her go. If we were to keep every kitten that we bonded with, we’d be living in a zoo for sure. Still, just thinking about saying goodbye was tough. I left it up to my husband to complete the dreaded handover.
Back at home the ratio plummeted back down to 2-1. The kitten hurricane blew into our home and out quicker than I could have ever imagined, leaving only a few tiny stains on the couch as proof of their presence. We checked the shelter website daily for any signs of adoption. The waiting was agony. Surely enough, one-by-one they found their forever homes, leaving only my little Apple and Kenny left to be adopted. Of course our favorite would be the last one, challenging our decision to not keep her. But finally a Facebook post put everything in perspective. Apple. Kenny. And their new parents. They were going home.
Many fosterlings have come and gone since the lively six. Each and every batch brings new and often hilarious memories. Although the art of letting go weighs on me each time, I’m comforted knowing that I’m giving homeless animals the best start possible in life. Just like humans, early nurture and care of kittens has life-long impacts on their overall health and even their personalities. It’s a special feeling to know the impact you can make on their physical and social development. Nevertheless, still to this day, my husband takes care of the handovers…I’m not made of steel after all. When I think back to that day at the doorstep with those 7 sets of tiny eyes staring out at me, I have to give it to my husband – the best surprises do come in tiny packages.