Something new is coming to the blog!
You may or may not have noticed a new header in the main menu across the top of the blog – ‘The Foster Files’. I was going to wait a few weeks longer before I wrote a post explaining this, but as it’s Wednesday and I need a post for Thursday and nothing else is written and this is something that is very much consuming my mind and that I’m very excited about, I can wait no longer!
I’m sure, given the feature image that goes with this post, that you’ve put 2 and 2 together and worked out what this is all about. Yes, I plan to foster kittens, but wait, there’s more, so let me explain, and then at the end of this post I’ll get back to what ‘The Foster Files’ is all about.
Rocky and Monty – my cats from many years ago
I know you might be thinking … kittens??!! But I thought she was a dog girl?! I know it seems I’m a dog girl as I’ve had dogs for many years and currently have just the one, my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel girl, Ava. Yes, I do love dogs but the truth is … I love most animals! In fact, I used to have two cats – Rocky and Monty (both boys). Here they are below in a photocopy of a photograph taken around 1991.
Rocky, the ginger, I got from via a work contact when he was a wee little kitten. Monty was one of two kittens from a neighbourhood cat that had been abandoned and gone feral. Friends took the other kitten. That cat went on to have another litter of kittens (4 or 5 from memory) who were all little hissers and spitters. We caught Mum and the kittens and took them all to the RSPCA to stop the cycle and hopefully give them a chance at lovely forever homes.
As you can see from the photograph above, Rocky and Monty were very close. It was so lovely to witness. Back in those days it was common practice to let your cats roam free and come in the house when they wanted to. I used to stand in the garage banging the cat food tin with a spoon and calling “puss puss puss puss … ” and they would come running for dinner and would be locked in for the night. Sadly, Rocky left us too soon. He didn’t come home one night. Monty lived till he was around 12 years of age. He was the most docile, gentle cat. He let the kids lie on him and cuddle him and never once did he scratch or get cranky.
For a long time now, I have wanted to do some volunteer work, but I wanted it to be something I felt passionate about and that I would enjoy doing. It also had to fit with my current lifestyle, physical capabilities, and where I live etc. I love animals and have a very strong nurturing and maternal instinct. I no longer spend my days away from home at a corporate job. I’m home a lot of the time. I don’t have a huge amount of yard space. I don’t have the time or energy for animals that require a lot of exercise. I still want to be able to write and blog.
I started researching possible options. I decided I wanted to help out the RSPCA. I mean, just look at all the amazing work they do! After much research, and considering my own personality, strengths and weaknesses, I have decided to foster babies. They mostly feed, sleep, and play (more as they get older). Who knows what I may do in the future but this is where I am starting.
I say babies because though the most need is with kittens at the moment (kitten season), I may foster puppies as well at times. I want to care for the most vulnerable – the neonatal kittens and puppies that need a 24 hr substitute Mum to care for them until they are ready for adoption and to go to their forever home. Yes I will grow to love them and yes it will be hard to see them go, but I am going into this with my eyes wide open and the end goal is very clear. The end goal being to say goodbye to a healthy animal who is going into a loving, safe forever home. Lives saved, a good start to life provided, and room at home to take in more is what I’ll keep in mind.
I’m very aware of my own limitations and when I need a break, so I will take a break between fosters when I feel it is needed. The RSPCA is very accommodating. For example if I have some foster babies and a holiday is coming up, alternative temporary foster care can be arranged until I return. Alternatively, depending on timing, I could refrain from taking on new fosters until I return from a holiday.
At the moment it is kitten season – roughly September to March and shelters are overwhelmed, so foster carers are much needed. You can’t just put your hand up and start straight away though. You have to attend a Basic Foster Care Workshop (around 2.5 hrs) which I have done. However, if you want to look after the babies, you also need to do the Fostering Baby Kittens Workshop (2.5 hrs) which is still a couple of weeks away for me. I also have to have a house inspection done yet and guess what? That’s happening late this afternoon!
I’m needing to practice my ‘patience’ because I am so excited and keen to get started. Practicing patience is good for me though because it’s something about me that needs improvement! Once I decide to do something, I want to do it now! Whilst I’m practicing my patience I am slowly building up my supplies – a few things I will need – some blankets, toys, etc. After decades of having pets, thankfully there is quite a bit I already have – eg crates, food bowls, etc. There are still a few things I’d like to get, including a scratch post or two. The RSPCA will provide the bottles, teats, formula, food, vet care and any medicinal requirements, heating mats etc. Speaking of toys – I discovered some really quick and easy cat toys that can be crocheted … so that’s another thing you may see on the blog in the future!
More about Baby Kitten Foster Care
Baby kittens are those kittens under 6 weeks of age that are not weaned and will require bottle feeding. They are orphans who have come to the RSPCA without their Mums. Baby kittens are assigned to one of the following groups: Neonates (0-2weeks), Early Transitionals (2-4weeks), Late Transitionals (4-6weeks) and Socialisation kittens (>6weeks). My job will be to take the place of their mother until they reach 1kg in weight and can be desexed and go to their new forever homes.
I’ve watched zillions of YouTube videos on neonatal care for puppies and kittens so I have a pretty good idea of what will be involved. Yes there are a couple of things about caring for the babies that worries me a little: 1) Baby kittens have a higher mortality rate than older kittens. I’m not sure yet how I will cope with that. 2) Baby kittens need to be bottle fed 3-4 hrly (depends on their age) including overnight. The overnight feeding might be a challenge … but as I keep telling myself … it’s short term! They grow so quickly and the time between feeds increases from week to week. At first, I was letting these two little fears stop me but then I remembered all those quotes about facing your fears, including this one:
Face your fears and doubts, and new worlds will open up to you
And so I jumped in because I want to see what new worlds might open up to me! You don’t know till you try and I really want to try. The worse that can happen is 1) that I don’t cope with the lack of sleep – in which case I persevere for the short term in order for the long term goal, or I reassess the baby kitten age groups that I take; and 2) I lose a baby and don’t cope very well – in which case I speak to other foster carers who would have experienced this loss and find out how they manage it; I give it time and allow myself to feel the emotions and get through it; I reassess the baby kitten age groups that I take.
To be honest, I think I’ll be ok! I don’t sleep much anymore anyway and the feeding of these babies is so quick and then they are placed back into their warm safe bedding and that’s it till next time. It’s not like a human baby that you might need to rock and lull back to sleep. As for the mortalities. I’m not sure how often that might be, if at all, but I’ll cross that bridge if and when I get to it. What’s important to remember is that I’ll be helping to save lots of little lives and that will make me so happy!
The Foster Files
The Foster Files is where you’ll find any posts I publish relative to my fostering for the RSPCA. At this stage, I’m thinking I might publish any fostering related posts on a Friday but that might change. I’ll be mulling that one over for a while I think!
Once my house inspection is done (later today) and I’ve completed the Baby Kittens Workshop (still a couple of weeks away) it could be quite a while before my first foster experience, or it might be immediate or soon after. I really don’t know. There will also be periods of time when I have no foster animal at all. It will be interesting to see how things go!
I hope that some of you will enjoy following along with my fostering experiences. I’m excited to get started! Any suggestions of where I can get some kitten appropriate scratch posts at a cheap and reasonable price?
Ciao for now,
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