I've had Mama-Rose, Daisy and Poppy for six weeks now. They're the first fosters I've had since April. It was a long, lonely summer, but I had to stop fostering, partially because my dear cat, Bob got sick and since he's FIV+ and a geriatric kitty, it was too risky to have unvaccinated or tested animals in the house—even if they're kept in a separate room. I also stopped because I was tired of butting heads with one of the folks where I volunteer. Dealing with someone who's not really good with people in the first place, who I find to be passive-aggressive, just makes what I do more difficult. No, I'm no angel, but I also don't care for being second-guessed, then given lots of phony praise. Please, just let me help the cats and not also do design work.
So I cut back. I'm mostly focusing on cat care and that's it. I'd love to do more, but communication is too difficult and I need to focus on my own projects. I've been putting that off for too long. If they need me, they know where to find me. Blah blah blah.
Now that I've worked with a few litters of kittens, I'm handling things a lot better. I still get stressed out that the kittens aren't eating enough on their own and that I keep finding them going after Mom for their meals. They're almost seven weeks old and I need to be sure they can fend for themselves. It'll be all too soon before they will be separated from their Mother, never to see her again.
I'll always hate breaking up another kitty-family, but there is little I can do aside from adopting them all and that's not going to fly, especially since Mama-Rose got out of her room and viciously attacked poor Bob. She left him stunned and bloody. I broke up the fight within seconds, but it was too late. I had to take Bob to the Vet. He was basically fine, just a few scratches, but it put the fear into me...what if she had Feline Leukemia? She basically just gave it to Bob right before my eyes. The Mom-cats don't get tested for anything when I get them, other than they make sure they are flea-free and have clean ears and no obvious signs of health issues.
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The flip side of caring for foster cats, is that you DO put your own cats well being at risk. It's something to take seriously because there are so many different diseases that can be transmitted and some ARE deadly and devastating. We had kittens that were covered with ringworm last year and we had to quarantine a building. It was terrible. Fortunately everyone survived it and none of the resident cats where the outbreak happened were effected, but it worries me.
Bob has started sneezing again, even though the foster cats seem fine. I don't know if it's from fall allergy season hitting or herpes virus passing around the house. There's a point where I just expect my cats to have a sniffle once in awhile, but they are all in good overall health, so they recover easily enough (usually even Bob is fine). The sand in the ointment is the "what if." What if I bring a cat into my house and it has something that will pass to my cats and kill them all? A house full of feline leukemia infected cats...I can't imagine a worse scenario.
I'm sorry if I'm scaring you, because we need foster families so badly. With the poor shape of the economy, we're seeing fewer adoptions and more cats getting abandoned. There are plenty of foster cats who ARE old enough to be tested BEFORE they go into foster care, so those cats aren't of any concern...it's the fragile period between the Pregnant Queens entering the program and the point at which it's safe to test them and give them and their offspring their first round of shots.
Thankfully, Mama-Rose had a clean bill of health. The kittens are bouncing around and thriving. I'm not worried about them, but I can't say the fear won't return with the next group of kittens...