Hi all! I introduced myself yesterday but wanted to tell the story that brought me here, and this seemed like the appropriate section for it (if I was wrong, I apologize! Learning a new forum is always a bit confusing at first
In early September, I noticed that my neighbor's cat looked a bit like she swallowed a cantaloupe. I thought she'd already been spayed (because I've never known anyone who didn't get their female cat spayed before kicking her outside due to 'allergies' that I'm fairly certain the mom doesn't have), but apparently I was wrong. She's a tiny little girl, barely 14 months old, and was very underweight. I went over and had a chat with the neighbors (they're not from here and are of a culture that doesn't see pets the same way we do). They agreed that the mama needed to be spayed as soon as possible after this litter. I asked what their plans were for the kittens - they said they'd take them to the shelter like they did the last litter.
Now, I volunteered at our county shelter for 8 years - it's run by very nice people who truly do their best for the animals that come in. But it's still a shelter, and many kittens who enter the shelter get sick and/or don't make it out.
I told my neighbors that no way were they taking these guys to the shelter - I'd figure something out. I got in touch with my friend - we volunteered at the shelter together and when she retired, she moved to the country and opened a small rescue. She's the kindest, nicest, most generous person I know. I asked her for advice and she offered to take in the kittens and adopt them out. I was so relieved! I only had to keep them contained and socialized until they were weaned and then she'd get them fixed and find them new homes. I brought my XL wire dog crate over to my neighbors, gave them a bunch of towels I got from the greyhound rescue (I volunteer there and when they learned about the kittens-to-be, they gave me towels), a few cans of cat food, and explained that mama and babies needed to be contained at all times. They seemed to understand, so I left and told them to ask me if they had any questions.
A couple weeks later on September 26, he came to the door and said that the kittens arrived. I rushed over - mama kitty had 4 beautiful little babies! I checked every couple of days to make sure that everyone seemed well. Two weeks after that, the son ran my doorbell at 10 pm and asked if I'd seen mama or kittens. I told him I hadn't and asked why she wasn't in the crate. He said she didn't like it, so he left the door open for her. Mama moved the kittens and no one could find them. I told him to look everywhere and let me know when he found them. I went out the next day and poked around their yard while no one was home, but couldn't find anyone.
A week later, he said they were under his house - he heard the meowing. I told him that was great and that he needed to get under there and get them out and to let me know when he did.
A week after that, I hadn't heard anything, so I asked him again. He said that his parents decided mama must have moved the kittens under there for a reason and that they should leave them be. I would have argued, but mama kitty got a squirrel just then and didn't kill it. It kept trying to bite her so I had him take the cat away and I brought the squirrel to the vet (they weren't optimistic for the poor little guy).
Two days later, on Sunday October 26, exactly a month after the babies were born, I woke up with one thought: "I have to get those kittens today
." I got up, had breakfast, and went over to the neighbor. I told the mom that I needed to get the kittens out from under their house and she said "Okay, whatever." He went under and came out a few minutes later with a fuzzy grey kitten. Her left eye was stuck shut and covered in mud and her nose was caked in dried mud. I cleaned her up and tucked her in my jacket. He went back under and said he only saw one other kitten but he couldn't catch it.
Have I mentioned yet that I'm not a cat person? I've never had a cat and my only experience with kittens was helping a friend who fostered a litter. I say this so you understand just how out of my depth I felt. I did my best picking out the essentials at Walmart. I didn't want to keep mama kitty inside while I was sure there was another kitten out there, so the little kitten and I were inseparable all evening. I gave her KMR when she was hungry and she snuggled in a fleece blanket on my lap while I watched TV. She spent the night in a cardboard box in my room and came to work with me the next day so we could make our morning vet appointment.
She had ulcers on both eyes and a nasty URI. I wanted to call her Carter (after Samantha Carter from Stargate) but the vet insisted on a more feminine name, so I stuck her with Sam. We went home with eye ointment, amoxicillin, a lysine drug, and a trap for the other kitten. As soon as I got home, I put on my yard work clothes and went spelunking under the neighbor's house. I bruised my knees, banged into their vents, and got tangled in a cable, but couldn't find the kitten. I didn't even see a kitten. I set the trap with smelly canned food, brought mama kitty inside for the night, and said a prayer. I checked a couple hours later and the trap was empty.
When I went to check the trap the next morning, I was relieved to hear this adorable mewing before I even saw the trap. I carried the kitten over to my house, checked him out (I did a quick check and guessed boy), and put him in with mama and Sam. I stuck him with the name Dean (because if I have a Sam, I need a Dean, because Supernatural!), reset the trap, and went to work.
No other kitties appeared in the trap - so only two out of the four made it. Sam and Dean and their mom spent the week in my sunroom. Sam bounced back beautifully - her right eye was almost completely clear and her left eye, the one with the worst ulcer, was finally not stuck shut all the time and looked to be healing as well. Towards the end of the week, they started bouncing and playing. On Friday night, they took their first tastes of mama kitty's canned food. On Saturday, the greyhound rescue gave me a bunch of cat food - canned and dry - that they'd received as donations. They have a resident cat-testing cat that helps them determine if the greyhounds are going to be labeled "cat friendly", "cat trainable", or "absolutely no cats" (he's an awesome kitty that they rescued off the side of the road). He's getting fat off all the donations so they gave some to me for mama kitty.
On Sunday, the kittens and mama went to a new foster home and I learned that poor Dean is, in fact, a girl. Oops! The foster family has a huge basement as their foster space and it's like kitty heaven. Mama kitty, of course, wasn't so thrilled - she took off as soon as the crate door opened. But the babies were having a blast exploring. They might get a foster sibling - someone found a four or five week old abandoned kitten and if Lorena will accept it, Sam and Dean will get a friend.
I'd been going back and forth on whether I should adopt Sam or not, and when my friend told me she found a new foster home, I nearly started crying because I didn't want them to go! (They had to, unfortunately - I had a trip scheduled before this whole rescue operation started and couldn't cancel on such short notice.) I asked her if I could put a hold on Sam and adopt her when she's ready and she said I absolutely could.
So that's why I'm here - I'm a complete cat novice. I know absolutely nothing about living with a cat. I've been doing research since I officially placed a hold on Sam and I've learned a lot, but I'm a member of a couple other forums (a rat forum and a greyhound forum) and they've proved to be great places to gather knowledge, so I searched for a kitty forum and found this one. I'll try to upload a few pictures because the babies are just adorable
Sam and mama kitty the first day they were in the sunroom:
Dean (I love her nose!):
Sam is snuggly:
I apologize for the length of this - I tend to get wordy.