Tag Archive | "fostering for PAWS"

Animal Tales: A Case of Kitten-Nabbing

by Melissa Byrd, of PAWS of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap, and Julie Hall April 14, 2012
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It’s that time of year again—kitten season! The first litter brought into PAWS in 2012, earlier this month, unfortunately was a case of inadvertent kitten-nabbing. A person called PAWS saying he was on his way with a “box full of kittens.” It seems a friend of his mother’s “rescued” them from an abandoned house. She said the mother cat hadn’t been around for several days.

What she and many other people do not understand is that just because you don’t see a mama cat doesn’t mean she isn’t around. This is true for wild animals too, which is why West Sound Wildlife Shelter advises people against picking up wild baby animals.

The 1-week-old kittens.

The one-week-old kittens.

So, the woman took the five one-week-old kittens from their hiding place and dropped them off with a friend who had no idea what to do with them and ended up taking them to PAWS. The kittens’ first stop was to the PAWS vet, who confirmed the obvious: that their mother had indeed been around and taking good care of them, assiduously feeding and grooming them into fat, clean little kitten chunks.

Although PAWS will eventually find homes for them when they are old enough, it is painful to imagine the mother cat’s distress when she discovered her babies missing. And it is unlucky for the kittens that they have been deprived of their mother’s love, milk, antibodies, and socializing for the crucial early weeks of their lives.

Fostering Kittens

Bottle feeding one of Flo's kittens.

Bottle feeding one of the newborn kittens.

What to do with the five tiny helpless kittens? The PAWS people called one of their most reliable foster parents, Flo, who immediately took them home and put them on a schedule. Taking care of newborn kittens—these hadn’t even opened their eyes yet—is round-the-clock work. The kittens need to be fed every two hours. Some are hearty eaters, but some take a bit longer to get the food in. And after every feeding each one needs assistance to do its business, which the mother cat does by licking its bottom to stimulate it to “go.”

Fostering newborn kittens—and any other animal—gives you a whole new respect for animal moms. We humans have our hands full with one. Can you imagine having to take care of five? That’s what Flo is doing for these new little ones now—and it’s something she’s been doing for years.

Attack kittens!

Attack kittens!

PAWS is always looking for loving, dedicated fosterers, who understand that young kittens are fun but are also work. Once they open their eyes and refine their motor skills, they are on the move constantly—climbing up things (curtains, Christmas trees . . .) and fitting into spaces you didn’t even know existed. Often they come with upper respiratory infections. Last year it seemed nearly every other kitten that came in to PAWS had ringworm, which requires sulfur dips and smearing lotion all over them several times a day. Vaccines, worming, and getting them fat and happy for their new home are all part of the foster parent’s job.

When the time comes to drop them off for their spay/neuter and life in the adoption center, some fosterers breathe a long sigh of relief. Others, like faithful Flo, say, “Who’s next?” And away she goes. We hope next time Flo gets a litter that is already at the solid-food stage and likes to sleep and snuggle a lot. It’s good to know that we can count on people like Flo and her husband Dave and son Ty to give these little guys and gals the best start in life they can possibly get from a nonfeline.

Another PAWS litter of kittens.

Another PAWS litter of kittens.

PAWS is grateful for its network of foster parents and is always looking for new ones. But often PAWS loses its fosterers because they end up adopting the kittens and/or mamas and then don’t have room for others. (Case in point, the second author of this story did this very thing.) If you’d like to become a foster parent for PAWS, learn more at their website.

Please note that “Flo’s kittens” won’t be ready for adoption until they weigh about 2 1/2 pound, which is usually at about 8-10 weeks of age, around late May or early June. Interested in adopting a PAWS kitten or cat? Contact PAWS of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap at catadopt@bainbridgepaws.org or call the Miller Road Cat Adoption Center at 206-780-0656.

Photos courtesy of PAWS of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap County.

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Animal Tales: Fred Meyer Store’s “Toy with Dying Batteries” Found to Be Starving Cat

by Melissa Byrd, of PAWS of BI and N Kitsap, and Julie Hall January 28, 2012
Paws and FinsThank you Paws and Fins Pet Shop for sponsoring our weekly Animal Tales feature.

The ad people who came up with the slogan “You’ll Find It at Fred Meyer” had a lot in mind but doubtlessly not a severely emaciated cat trapped in a storeroom. And yet that is where “Freddy,” as he’s come to be named, ended up. For a few weeks staff at the store had been hearing a faint mewing that they assumed was a toy somewhere with dying batteries. Freddy had low batteries alright, but he was no toy, and luckily he did not die.

When the black and white cat was finally spotted, an animal-loving store manager scooped up his feather-light, boney body and took him straight away to one of the PAWS of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap County vets.

In the knowing hands of PAWS, Freddy has slowly begun to come back from the brink. Although his caretakers wanted to fill him with a kitty buffet from the get go, they knew his weakened body would require a gradual reacclimation to eating. It was painfully obvious that this boy had not eaten in quite a while.

Freddy was so frail when he first arrived, it took all his effort to stand and walk to the cushy bed laid out for him. His test results showed that his blood sugar numbers and a few enzymes were out of normal range, but there is a good chance that they will improve once he reaches a healthier weight.

Wet Freddy relaxing by his bowls.

Wet Freddy relaxing by his bowls.

Freddy has been staying at the PAWS vet clinic since he was found, eating many small meals throughout the day. He is so happy to have food and water he sleeps next to his bowls. When staff move the bowls to change the water or get more food, his eyes never leave them. Each time his bowls are returned to him in his kennel he takes a taste to reassure himself he’s not dreaming. Freddy is getting much stronger and now walks all around the cat ward when his bedding and kennel are being cleaned.

Everyone who meets Freddy falls for his big green eyes, his gentleness, and his affectionate personality. He loves to be petted and starts to purr as soon as his caretakers walk in the vet cat ward. During his first bath last week he acted like a “show” cat in the tub, letting the warm water soak through his fur and reveling in his shampoo massage. He enjoyed being soaped up twice and then being given a cream rinse. His only moment of complaint was when his caretaker, coauthor of this story Melissa Byrd, stopped massaging him to take some photos of him. The photos featured here show wet Freddy after his shampoo, revealing just how skinny his is.

Freddy’s recovery will take quite a while. His caretakers guess his is not a young cat, but they really can’t be sure of his age with his body in its current state. They are hopeful he will continue to grow stronger and one day be ready for a home with a loving family and a steady diet of healthy food and water—a daily miracle for Freddy that most of us take for granted.

Cats like Freddy and many others that come to PAWS of BI and N. Kitsap need lifesaving and sometimes ongoing care that traditional shelters are not always able to offer. Socialized feral kittens, older cats, and cats with special needs all find a safe haven with PAWS until they are adopted into caring new families. Of the over 275 cats and kittens placed in loving homes by PAWS in 2011, over 100 were considered outside of the “healthy/adoptable” range by traditional shelters. As part of its rehabilitation program, PAWS relies on its network of loving foster homes.

Here is a photo gallery of Freddy looking endearingly wet and scruffy after his bath:

If you want to find out how to become a PAWS fosterer, learn more about Freddy, or find out about the many other wonderful cats and kittens needing homes through PAWS, call 206-780-0656 or email catadopt@pawsbainbridge.org.

Photos courtesy of PAWS of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap County.

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