Fostering, Momma Cat May Have a Headache - 3/24/2010

View LargerYesterday, my brother, Ken, sent me this picture titled, Momma Cat May Have a Headache along with the message, "I was deeply involved in my P&IDs (that's chemical engineering geekspeak for "I was working") when momma came down and started looking out the window.  Ok until she pounced on a squirrel without understanding what a sliding glass door is." Ouch!  Fortunately, as we all know, brains are the least important part of a cat's anatomy.  Now if she'd jumped stomach first into the door, we might have a problem.

View LargerMomma cat has lots of babies.  Six.  Ken and the boys had wanted more kittens to foster after their first experience last December.  I'd asked Ken if he would be interested in a feral mom and kittens or perhaps a pregnant feral.  He responded via text message, "So, you're saying this cat would give birth in my family room to say a half dozen slimy things and then we'd have to compete with the spitting swatting thing for the kittens' affection in the hopes of taming them?"  I answered, "Well, yeah."  And he replied, "We're up for that!"  The next momma that showed up at Forgotten Cats, though, was tame.  So Ken and his boys are now raising six babies with the help of their sweet, but now dizzy, momma.

This all started late last summer when I did what I promised my husband I never would.  I brought home four tiny four-week-old kittens to foster.  It was Felicia's fault.  She told me they were so tiny that they'd get sick and die if I didn't take them home and watch over them.  My husband was not happy.  I named them Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Epsilon, thinking that if I just called them by letter instead of giving them names, that I wouldn't grow attached.  Yeah, right.  (And don't ask what happened to Delta or I'll have to admit that I've been out of school so long that I forgot the Greek alphabet and skipped a letter.)   I set them up in a couple of cages in our spare bedroom.  They liked to sleep in the purple igloo.View Larger  Shh… I hope they never find out it's a ferret igloo; how embarrassing for kittens to be sleeping in a ferret house.  When I'd come into the room, they'd all run out from inside that igloo like clowns coming out of a Volkswagon.  When I'd open up the cage, they'd race all around the room until they tired out; then they'd climb up on my back--sometimes all 4 of them at once--and wrestle.  I kept imagining what that would be like when they each weighed 15 pounds.

Alpha almost didn't make it.  She wasn't growing.  I had to bottle feed her and then force feed her baby food through a syringe.  But she pulled through and soon they were all big enough to get sterilized and go up for adoption.  Their first trip to Petsmart was to an adoption event.  When I was picking them up at the end of the weekend, Suzanne said, "Those are yours?  I might have known!  They are so bad!"  Then she added, "Beta eats hair."  And I said, "Yes, and Gamma climbs curtains."  Finally, they ended up at the Petsmart in Jenkintown where they were called, "The Greek Kittens."  They were adopted in alphabetical order, first Alpha and Beta to one family and then Gamma and Epsilon to another.

Meanwhile, Ken's wife, Cheryl, had fallen in love with the idea of a kitten.  She heard about my Greek kitties and even considered adopting Alpha.  But she had stage 4 breast cancer and View Largerknew she wouldn't be around to care for a kitten as it grew up.  I told her I'd take a kitten over for her to play with.  Borrowing Felicia's techniques of persuasion, I took a litter of 3.  Cheryl took them out of the carrier and just couldn't believe how adorable they were.  We were going out to breakfast.  Before we were done with our eggs, Ken and Cheryl had agreed to foster the kittens for the three weeks it would be til they could go to Petsmart.  Cheryl named them Smokey, The Bandit, and Cledus (Jerry Reed's character in the movie).  It's hard to be sad when there are kittens around.  Ken or one of their sons would carry the kittens in to Cheryl's bed and she'd watch their antics.  Cheryl's mom came to stay and fell for The Bandit.  She thought about adopting him, but she has birds at her house and didn't think that would work out.  Finally, it was time for the kittens to go to Petsmart.  They all found their forever homes within about two weeks.  The last one, Cledus, went home the day Cheryl died. 

Lots of people say Forgotten Cats is all about the cats.  But it's not about the cats for me.  It's about the people the cats' lives touch.  Smokey, The Bandit, and Cledus were there for my brother's family when they needed a bright spot in their lives.  And they gave Cheryl--always the community organizer--another opportunity to make a difference, a chance to raise three kittens who would make their adoptive families happy.  The work we do together isn't just about the cats.  We help make people happy.

-- Maria

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