When you see kittens available for adoption, do you look into the cages and think, “They are so cute now, but they grow up too quickly. I wish they could stay little.” In just a couple of months, they go from cuddly and adorable to that teenage stage. Gads yes, kittens go through it, too. Like your adolescent kids, kittens will tell you, “Don’t hold me. Eww. Don’t kiss me on the mouth in front of my friends!” Then, they reach that lovely destructive stage that requires loads of patience, constant monitoring and a prescription of Valium. Finally, also like kids, your kitten should settle into adulthood when your company is once again cool and a toy mouse and a tall scratching post hold more appeal that the Battenberg lace curtains.
Wouldn’t it be fun if you could have a constant supply of fresh whiskered faces without contributing to pet overpopulation? You can by providing a foster home (and a chance to live) to a kitten who would otherwise be put to sleep in a shelter.
Why don’t you Rent-A-Kitten (become a foster home) from your local animal shelter so you can continually enjoy that fleeting window of adorable early kittenhood? That way you can have your catnip and sniff it, too.
Go to your local pet supply store or call area animal control to locate a Rent-A-Kitten (rescue) groups near you.
And, if it’s important to show your kids the “Miracle of Life”, go for it. Spay your cat tomorrow and Rent-A an unwed mother cat who just couldn’t say “no.” For the most part, a healthy mother cat is the Marion Cunningham of the animal world. Mom does all the work: she’ll feed her kittens, keep them squeaky clean, teach them to use the litter box and growl when they get out of line. You provide high quality cat food and scoop (a lot.) At times you may feel like you’re up to your ears in alligators, but when everyone’s all fed at the end of the day, you’ll smile with an armful of purring kittens.
If you volunteer to help a humane group, they should cover the veterinary expenses including vaccinating and neutering/spaying. It also means you will be able to take them to adopt-a-pets while they’re cute and easy to find homes for. Make sure your rescue group snips them early. Studies show that kittens altered at 8 weeks stay sweeter and healthier than kittens neutered at 6 months.
Your job description as foster mom will look something like this:
Travel agent- Book your foster mom into a spare bathroom, bedroom or laundry room makes a great nursery. It’s better if the floors are easy to clean.
Security guard- Keep them away from your own pets until you know both mom (and company), as well as your guys, are all healthy.
Waiter-A nursing mom’s energy needs will be two to three times a normal adult cat. You can free feed mom a high quality dry kitten diet and change her water daily.
Maid service-Keep her room clean. Change her linens daily (or several times a day when necessary.) See, now you have a reason to keep those 1970s orange and green sheets in the back of your closet. When kittens start learning to use the litter box, there will be accidents. Lining the room’s floor with newspaper makes clean up much easier and far less disgusting. Between foster families, clean the room with a bleach mixture to kill any lingering bacteria, fungus or viruses.
Janitor-Provide a big litter box for mom. She’s recycling a lot of food. When the kittens are about three weeks old give them a little box, so they can jump inside without having to scale the side like a rock cliff climber. Also, no clay clumpable cat litter until they’re six months. Organic clumping litters like corn are fine.
Safety inspector-Make sure the kitten room is a safe place. Take all poisons out of there. Remove anything that they can break or bring down on top of themselves. There may have to some house-retraining of the males around the house; not male cats—humans. The toilet lid should stay closed in any room the kittens have access to. Block off little holes and crevices. You’d be surprised the places kittens can end up.
Exterminator-Check mom and the kittens for fleas. They’re not just an irritation. Those little vampires and can be real killers and they cause tapeworms. Flea combs are safest choice for little guys. Don’t use any flea treatment on kittens without talking to your vet. Get the kittens wormed by a vet as soon as they’re old enough.
Nurse-The two most common health problems are kitty colds and diarrhea. Unless you’re an experienced kitten keeper, call the vet when you first notice dripping from either end. Watch them closely. Make sure all the kittens are nursing and growing. If one is lagging too far behind or isn’t as active as the others, take the whole kitten caboodle to the vet. If mom gets sick, you may wind up having to bottle-feed the kittens. No big deal. Hobbes had some great advice last month.
Chauffer-Occasional trips to the vet will be necessary for shots, worming, spaying/neutering and emergencies.
Devotee-This is the most important aspect. In order to make sure your kitten is successful (happy and comfortable) in his forever home, he needs to experience things a lot of different things while he’s little. Love, cuddle and play with your kittens everyday. Allow calm children to hold them. The more things you can play with them. Kitties need to get used to being normal activities and noises like the TV, kids playing, the doorbell and kisses.
Remember, it’s hard to let them leave, but it’s easier when you realize he saved a life and made the new family very happy. Beside there will always be another kitten at animal control who would love to be “rented.”