Archive for the ‘Kitten Season’ Category


Knowing When to Let Go

March 28, 2011

The most difficult aspect of fostering and working in animal rescue, is the death of a foster or a beloved pet. For all the times that rescuers have to face the euthanasia list and recognize that we cannot save them all, there is additional heartache in saving one, only to have him or her pass away before their time.

I have lost several fosters, some kittens and some adults. With the kittens, I understand that they are weak and very susceptible to diseases and illnesses as their immune systems just aren’t that strong. Often they are orphaned, and have no mother to nurse them, and sometimes their mother is around but is sick as well. Last year I tried my hand with several orphan batches and various mothers, but many were not able to thrive.

How many?

Of the hearty survivors, one guy named McGee, captured the hearts of a couple who lived in Queens and they adopted him along with another kitten named Grey Bear. Sadly, today, I am meeting them at the vet’s for euthanasia as McGee is losing his battle against FIP. He’s not quite a year old.


This is terribly difficult for everyone. And all pet owners, at one time or another, will go through this or something like it. Whether the pet is young or old, they aren’t immune to life – just like us humans, they might get cancer, suffer from accidents, have heart trouble, or any number of feline afflictions.

What is different is that as their caretakers, we have to make the tough decision: when to end their suffering. This is an important decision. It sometimes requires us to make peace with the loss sooner than we are ready to do so. If we wait too long, we run the risk of increasing their pain and not giving them a dignified and peaceful death. When all options have been pursued, when it’s time to end the suffering, all we can reassure ourselves with is that we did the best we could and we loved and were loved in return.



Miracle Birth! Or, not really.

July 23, 2010

Immaculately conceived, or a trick of the light?

When I arrived home on a Sunday night after a World Cup Final blowout BBQ, I saw this little thing sitting in my closet on a pile of stuff. I shouted for my husband to come and tell me what he saw – I literally thought I was hallucinating.

I was not hallucinating as it turned out. Nor was I “having a bad trip.” A newborn kitten was in my closet, sitting pretty, looking for all the world like he had been expected. I set about trying to find the mystery mother by placing a few possibilities next to him to see who reacted in a motherly fashion. I’m careful about spay/neuter, obviously, so it was a real head-scratcher.

Turns out, it is Ella. And she came to me as a foster already pregnant (who knew?) with her first baby in tow. Her other baby, Bella, now four months old, looks nothing like her baby brother.


Unfortunately, Ella does not really want to mother this little baby, although Bella is really psyched about more milk. Miracle man can’t seem to get the nursing thing down properly, but he gets real excited when he’s bottle-fed. Ella insists on carrying him to various unsuitable places and then leaves him lying on the floor. I have tried to explain the concept of nesting and nursing, but Ella is a free-spirit. No doubt Miracle Boy will also be one, unless he develops an unhealthy attachment to his human mom, who is still a little surprised to see him every day.


New Confidential Kitties

June 16, 2010

There are some new recruits in my life, courtesy of Kitten Season. What is Kitten Season? Oh just when all the mothers everywhere give birth to their litters and it’s an explosion of kittens, abandoned, dumped and thrown away.

Dear Joe Public:

Please spay and neuter your pets. If you have an animal on your property, even if it’s not yours, please arrange to have that animal fixed, whether through the ASPCA or Humane Society, or through a Trap-Neuter-Release program. You’ll be glad that you did, and you will save countless little kittens from suffering the brunt of overpopulation.

Thank you.

But that’s not why we are here today. No, we’re here to celebrate the cuteness of kittens.

(L to R) McGee, Grey Bear, Abby, Teddy (in front) and Panda

It’s true. They are cute. Look at those faces! And even when the grow up, they are wonderful, fun companions. I’m not lying because I speak from broad experience. Ha ha, yes indeed!

These guys are from different litters. I was privileged to receive whole or parts of litters and there was a lot of mixing and matching. McGee and his sister Ziva were the actual offspring of LadyKat, pictured below.

Then LadyKat got very ill and went to the hospital. Turned out, she had infected nipples and one had an abscess. Three weeks later, she’s back in my house, wondering who the hell these tiny cats are. Her motherhood has been stripped from her, but between you and me, she’s probably secretly glad. Motherhood is hard!

Lady Kat, a gorgeous tortie calico.

Take the example of Sweets. Sweets is a great mom, but all her kittens died. She and her babies all had upper respiratory infections that turned into deadly pneumonia.

For a while she was unable to nurse her last remaining baby, and he didn’t make it despite our best efforts (and our vets’ best efforts). Eventually she recovered and I thought “oh hey, I need a lactating mother for these other babies.”

So she and Lady shared the duty for a while until Lady went to the hospital and then it was all on Sweets. Quite a merry-go-round for kittens and moms, right?

Sweets isn’t sure where these extra kittens came from, but she’s game. They meep, she meows and it’s a game of “Marco Polo” in my house constantly. And the kittens get to nurse and Sweets gets to be a mom. It’s all good.

Sweets cares for a sick kitten

Now the challenging part. Finding homes for everyone. Plenty of people are willing to take cute kittens, although there are so many in the summer. But the moms can end up unadopted for months, after their kittens have gone. Talk about post-partum depression!

Here’s hoping for the best for all of these good moms, fighting for their health and the babies who just need a little mothering – and now, a good home that will love them even when they’re grown.

Don’t we all wish for that?

To inquire about any of these cats, write to, or respond here on this blog.