A few days ago Jennifer and her sister, Laura, brought over a feral Mama cat and her three newly born kittens for me to foster. The ladies are such cat-centric-powerhouses that it put me to shame. Not only have they been doing TNR since BEFORE it was even called TNR; they've devoted their lives to helping the cats no one seems to want.
Jennifer adopts cats older than 13!!! The sick, handicapped, worn out beasts who become her cherished, supremely cared for friends. During our visit, I was so impressed by her wealth of knowledge about cat care that I invited her to take part here at CiCH. Thanks for joining our group, Jennifer and welcome!
...back to the foster journal...
It's been over a month since Jasper, aka Dumbledore went to his new home. His mom called and wrote a few times since then to give me updates. Apparently, Dumbledore was meant to be with this family-whether it was because they determined it must be so because of his sad story or because they knew something deep down that could not be explained. It just was.
The transition went better than expected. Not only has Dumbledore gotten on well with his new cat-friends, he also has accepted the friendship of two big standard poodles.
I'm told Dumbledore never had any more loose stool. His appetite is great. He is happy and playful with his new buddies. I couldn't be more happy for him. Okay, I could be more happy if he stayed with me, but heck. I gotta learn to let GO of these guys to make room for more.
Speaking of which...
Mama is gorgeous. Long haired. Black. Golden, frightened eyes. I wish she wasn't feral. I will certainly try to work with her in time.
The babies. Born March 14, 2008. Pi Day. Two boys. One girl. One black with a locket of white. Two are grey. One seems to have lovely mackerel tabby markings. Today they are 16 days old. Their eyes have opened and their little bud ears have started to point upwards, instead of seem glued flat to their heads. They can crawl a bit, but mostly they sleep and eat.
Since they've only been here a few days, I thought it best to keep things quiet and leave everyone alone. Mom is settling in well. I spent a few worried nights in the beginning because she wasn't comfortable in the large, covered dog crate I set up for her and the kittens. The room they're in has every nook and cranny blocked or covered up so she can't go under the bed to hide or find a small cubby to get away from me. I need to be able to socialize the kittens and I need to know that everyone is safe and well.
It's been a strange game, each time I enter the room. I say hello to Mama in a quiet voice, then look around to see where she has piled the kittens. Most of the time they're in their kitty bed in the crate, but some times I find them scattered about the floor, alone. I'm terrified I will step on one them and I'm also concerned they're get too close to the space heater I have running to keep things nice and toasty warm.
Mama seems to be doing a great job with her babies. She's really eating like a champ and using her litter pan properly. All is well.
Yesterday I entered the room and peeked at the kittens. One of them looked back at me! It was the first time I saw those baby blue eyes, both open, becoming alert to their new world. I know she couldn't see me beyond a blur, but she saw me and reacted with a tiny squeak. It felt like a kick to the gut. I wanted to cry. I witnessed a developmental milestone. Something so seemingly insignificant, yet to me, so magical. The cycle of new life begins again before my eyes.
Late last night I couldn't sleep. I decided to read in the foster room, instead of run the TV and make noise. Mama was snuggled up in the kitty bed with her babies. At first she watched me, wondering if she should take off and hide; then after a few minutes she seemed more at ease and went to sleep. It was quiet. The only real sound was the hum of the space heater kicking on and off.
I read for an hour or so, occasionally looking into the dog crate at the sleeping cats. My cruel mind raced me to a day in the future when instead of seeing a tiny kitten sleeping on her mother's back, her mother will be taken away, spayed, given some time to recover, then returned to the outdoors, to live out the rest of her life. She'll be in a managed colony, where she came from and calls home, but to me it will be a painful time. Just thinking about separating them makes me sick.
Years ago, I fostered a mom and three kittens. Two of the kittens got adopted together and the mom and remaining kitten stayed here. For days the mom was looking for her babies. I felt so bad. I wished I could explain it to her, to give her some relief, but there was nothing I could do except wait for enough time to pass where she would relax again.
I decided to keep the mom (Gracie) and her daughter (Petunia), partly because I couldn't bear to see them separated and partly because I had the room for two more. I know I can't do that again and I know these separations are "for the best," but that doesn't mean I have to like it.
I'm going to enjoy this time, but the clock is ticking. It's only six more weeks—then this story ends for me and everyone will go to their new home or be released. I wish I had more help. Someone to help Mama grow to like humans, but we just don't have the manpower or the time.
Maybe some day cat overpopulation and feral cats won't exist any more. Maybe we'll just have a manageable number of cats in the world, who all live in safe, loving homes. Yes. I suppose it's just a dopey dream, but I have to do what I can to help make it happen, even it it's painful some times.