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In over my head!

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hello all, I was once a member of this lovely site, but have since forgotten my screen name, so I'm back to say hello and... HELP!!!

Life has gone all but completely crazy, when working I saw someone that had just gotten a litter of one day old kittens to foster. It completely grounded me... reminded me how much i've always wanted to foster. Long story short, I applied and got accepted to a fostering program. But they offer no training... kinda like pushing you off a bridge and expecting you to fly . I have no idea what to expect in this. The only thing i know is that i will be dealing with either pregnant cats, or abandoned kittens.

So my question is, will you share some of your stories with me about the preg cats and kittens you've delt with? and offer me some big do's and dont's? I want to be succesful at this and give any animals the best chance i can.

thanks in advance everyone... PS wish me luck!
post #2 of 16
Congratulations!!! Fostering is very rewarding, even if it does require a bit of restraint as to not adopt every Tom, Dick and Harry that crosses your threshold!

I first joined this list 3 years ago because I adopted a pregnant cat from the pound... then life happened and had to leave for a bit. But not before picking up some useful tips and ideas.

Last year we started to volunteer for our local no-kill shelter. The A.N.N.A Shelter.

Sometimes the cats come to us a day or so after they've already had their litters, sometimes not.

I think the most important thing, is to have open communication with your shelter, be very perceptive, and dont be afraid to call your shelter with any questions.

Last year we brought in a mother that had a litter of kittens the night before. 5 of them. When I went to pick them up, they put 3 older (3-week-olds) orphan kittens in with the mom. 8 kittens total. It turned out that one of the orphan kittens had a cold or at least runny eyes (herpes), and ended up infecting a few of the newborns. As soon as I noticed I was sending emails, calling them, and picking up the meds they needed.

Do you already have cats of your own? One issue I run into is the mother cats not liking my cats. Be prepared to section off an area of your house. This year's foster doesnt mind my cats as long as they dont come in my room (where the kittens are kept). But I had a cat last year that wouldnt let my cats on the second floor at_all... if my bedroom door was left open, she would even chase my 100 pound dog down the stairs! We had to relocate their litter boxes to the first floor until she went back to the shelter.

Also... be prepared for the inevitable. The mortality rate for kittens is high. We have learned this the hard way, and despite our best efforts, it happens. And it can be very upsetting to children. I have explained to my daughters (especially my youngest, who is 11 now), that although it is sad when a kitten dies, it would be sadder if they had no place to go when they were born and they all got sick from living in the shelter.

Also a pregnant cat should eat more than a non-pregnant cat and a nursing cat will eat even more than that! Our shelter provides us with the food and kitty litter.

Those are just a few things I can think of right now. I know there are others... such as emergency kits and birthing supplies, but I will include those in another post.
post #3 of 16
If you are taking in a pregnant cat you will want to set up a few different birthing nests for mom to choose from. I always confine my foster to one room in the last days. I set up one uncovered box with old towels and newspaper. I offer her another covered box with an opening large enough for her to fit through also filled with papers and towels (make sure the top comes off or is openable so that you can view inside to make sure everything is ok). Then I also leave her crate door open (my fosters come with their own crate). I also take my bed off it's frame so that she can not dig her way under (or in) my bed (or boxspring)! Make sure closet doors and dresser drawers are shut.

It nice to have a birthing kit prepared ahead of time, I have included in mine:

sanitizer (obviously for your hands)
scissors (to cut umbilical cord if need-be)
thread/dental floss (to tie umbilical cord)
alcohol (for cleaning the scissors before using them each time)
wash cloth (for cleaning off amniotic sacs if mom doesnt do it fast enough)
bulb syringe (for suctioning kittens mouth or nose, if needed)
heating pad/towels in dryer (to help keep kittens warm)
paper towels for cleaning up and for throwing away placentas (I dont let the queens eat them)
plastic grocery bag (for throwing placentas and soiled paper towels away in)
notebook (for taking notes and birthing time in)
nail polish - several colors (for painting kittens nails in case they look alike)

some people recommend vaseline (to use in case a kitten seems stuck) but I have never had to do this (thank goodness!).

I'll post the kitten emergency kit next.
post #4 of 16
Kitten emergency kit. (helpful if you have orphaned kittens too)

Some times a kitten is too week to nurse, either on the mom or by bottle. Using an eyedropper is helpful to feed them KMR. Be careful not to hold the kitten upside down as it can aspirate milk and drown. Hold the kitten belly-side down as if it was nursing from mom.

Dehydration can set in FAST. If you notice him getting week/limp and/or you notice the skin doesnt spring back into position after it is pinched (on the back of the neck) you can administer dextrose subcutaneously. You could probably ask someone at the shelter show you how this is done, but it is not hard to master. Our shelter taught us to do this for fading or orphan kittens. The supplies can be bought at a store that sells cattle supplies (or maybe even a feed mill). Use a very small needle, we use 3ml 21g1 needles and 50% dextrose solution. Suck up 3ml into the needle, pinch the skin on the back of their neck and insert needle through the skin. Inject the solution slowly.

If a cat has a large litter, sometimes it is best to separate the kittens in two separate nests. This helps ensure that even the weakest kitten is getting his fair share and not being bullied around. If you notice a kitten is not latching on, you can take him and mom aside and place corn syrup/karo syrup on one of her nipples (preferrably a hind teet) to try and entice him.

A kitten can also be tube fed if all else fails, but if it gets to this point, you will need your shelter's assistance.

If you have orphan kittens there are other things to consider... and I will locate the TCS link regarding that for you.
post #5 of 16
orphaned kitties- bottle babies
post #6 of 16
Originally Posted by hissy View Post
orphaned kitties- bottle babies
Thanks Hissy!!!
post #7 of 16
All that said, I dont want to overwhelm you!

Cats have kittens on their own everyday. Intervene only as much as you and momma cat are comfortable.

Cats can postpone their labor if they are nervous... so some cats might not be comfortable with you peeking in their box every 5 minutes. That said, I've only had one cat choose the covered box, and I waited until she tipped the box over and the first kitten was born to assist.
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone! this is all great information. im a bit nervous not even knowing what i'll be picking up when i get the call. Were those of you that foster scared the first time? I feel like im worrying about EVERYTHING!
post #9 of 16
I was nervous and excited at the same time. The kittens were already born my first time, so I didnt have to worry about delivery. The one thing I was [blissfully] unaware of was how my other pets would react. Somehow I had totally not considered this, but I live in a 5 bedroom house and have plenty of room to quarantine the mom and her kittens.

Dont stress... we're here with you for any questions! You're an kitty angel for opening your home to these otherwise unwanted cats, and you are obviously doing your homework to be prepared. Just imagine, after your first few times, you'll be a pro!
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
I found out what im getting!!!

Tomorrow at three o'clock i will be picking up my first fosters! Three, six week old kittens! They will be staying with me for three weeks! I'm very excited! I hope they don't have names yet, i'de like to name them myself.

I know that kittens at this age will get into everything and will need to be watched when they are out of their cage. I know that they are litter trained and pretty much weened. But does anyone have any other tips? Or anything i should be sure to watch out for?
post #11 of 16
Congratulations! You get them for the fun age!!!!

Tips I can think of off the top of my head:

Tie up the cords on your blinds

Double check for poisonous plants

Secure electrical, phone and computer wires - kittens like to chew these

Block any small holes that kitty can get in to.

Check valuable knick knacks (for your sake and theirs)

Oh and HAVE FUN!!!!
post #12 of 16
i cant help but wanted too congratulate you
Everyone here will be of great help and theres always someone here too help!
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
oh boy! turns out they are about 8 weeks so i only have them for one. two boys, named Einstien and Bleeker and one girl that i've not named yet. What a handful!!!
post #14 of 16
I was just thinking about you guys last night and wondered how you were doing!

8 weeks already huh? How exciting! I love the name Bleeker! Too funny. Hope to see some pics, but cant wait to read about some of their antics! Have a great week with them!
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
I do have pictures!

Heres the little girl i named her Reah shes our resident "squeeze into tight places" cat

Heres our little Bleeker, he seems the most lovey

and here is our little Einstien... he proved to not be the brightest bulb in the bunch


Every cat that eats has to play it off!

they are sweethearts, getting into mischeif all over the place. its going to be hard to let them go next week. im already getting atached. Reah crawled into my sleeve this morning and cuddled there.

The boys are funny, they knocked my purse off the counter this morning playing, sppoked themselves pretty good. they just wanted to cuddle after that.
post #16 of 16
Very cute indeed!! I just adore everything about Beeker, from his name to the tip of his nose. Love it

Thanks for sharing! And again, enjoy your week with the kiddies!!!
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