Meet our newest foster kittens: Susie Myerson, Sophie Lennon, and Maisel. They are eight weeks old. They were born in late October under a porch on Sheffield Street here in Manchester. When the homeowners discovered Mama Cat (now known as Faith) caring for her brood, they turned to the cat ladies and friends for help. One brought a shelter and advice.
Then came Tara from nearby Brighton Heights to help develop a TNR plan for kittens that were presumed to be a bit older. Once they were all successfully trapped, they realized the kittens were just eight weeks old. That’s when the race was on – Mama and the kittens went to the Spay and Neuter Clinic for ‘the works’ and Tara tried to find a foster home for the kittens. They were still young enough to be socialized into housecat life.
I had been following the story on Facebook and when I read Tara’s request for a home, I just jumped in and offered up our bathroom. Then I called Ledcat to say “Guess who’s coming for dinner?” after texting her the details. Ledcat went with a friend to the symphony, I got the bathroom ready, and Tara left the Pittsburgh CAT foster holiday party early to pick up the kittens.
I want to say here that Tara paid for all four cats complete veterinary bill out of her own pocket – about $600. The kittens even though so young had to be neutered/spayed as well as ear tipped and vaccinated because the default plan had to be releasing them to the community.
Tara and her husband Doug arrived around 9:30 PM with three kitten traps.
After they left, I let the kittens out of the traps hoping for a calm introduction. Ha. First up was Sophie Lennon who is a male DMH brown tabby. Lennon climbed the walls searching for an escape. He finally settled down in a corner surely overcome with exhaustion and terror. Then I set Susie Myerson free. She’s a gorgeous little DLH black female. She’s got attitude for miles and after sticking her tongue out at me, repeated her brother’s circular climbing route through the bathroom.
Then came Maisel, another gray tabby DSH with white feet and markings. She was the most wee of the kitties, but zoomed around the bathroom with the fierce intensity of a whirling dervish. She almost climbed the bathrobes to the transom, but fortunately – I grabbed them first. She was furious and indigant and practically reberverated WTF in every motion.
I held each cat, perhaps the first person to do so while they were conscious (surgery under anesthesia doesn’t count.) They hissed, they pouted, they fought me tooth and claw until my will prevailed and they calmed themselves in my arms, wrapped up ‘purrito’ style. Well not so much calm as exhausted and waiting for the moment I set them free.
They hid behind the cat tree. I left them in peace to examine their paperwork and update Ledcat. When she returned home, we did another round of human holding irritated kitten sessions. It took us awhile to determine gender because of their age and awareness they had just had surgery. To be honest, we still aren’t 100% sure we got it right but that’s okay.
The next morning, we discovered that they had consumed all of the canned food we put out. I set up the nanny cam for 24/7 monitoring. They were still pissy as fuck and not shy about telling us. We held them, we fed them, we plucked worms out of their poop. By the end of day, they were no longer hissing at us but were clearly reluctant to be held. They gravitated to the broom tucked behind the trash can and found safe haven there for some reason. One milestone moment Saturday evening came when Maisel kept popping out to see what I was doing and then ducking back behind her box. Soon after, Lennon came out to drink while I was in the room.
Sunday they made big strides and experienced setbacks. They were still pissy, but discovered that my hand caressing their head and neck felt good. It was such a sweet moment to see them melt into the sensation. They ate like champions. And I caught them playing with a toy on the nanny cam! Oh my heart. Then we caught another clip of them wrestling and chasing the sisal from the cat tree and pouncing on one another. We had also watched the overnight cam footage and saw several hours of them exploring the room and even climbing up one level of the cat tree.
The setbacks were not unexpected – they seem to have developed an upper respiratory ‘thing’ that is limited right now to their eyes, no coughing or sneezing yet. So they are starting a course of eye drops 3x daily. Fortunately, we had the drops on hand from a similar incident with Kinzua in October. If they don’t rebound, we may have to administer oral antibiotics.
We also weighed them today. They had to each have been at least 2 lbs on Friday to be eligible for the spays and neuter surgeries. Susie Myerson is 2 lbs 3 ouces, Sophie Lennon is 2 lbs 2 ounces, and little Maisel was just 1 lb and 12 ounces. Obviously, she had dropped a few ounces since Friday, a loss that could be serious at such a young age. Fortunately, we knew she was eating like a champ so we anticipate her rebounding soon. That means we weigh them each day because we can’t miss a thing with these issues. Kittens can fade quickly. And these guys had such a tough start.
Both the #kittencaboodle and Kinzua had put us through our paces with respiratory crud and viruses. So we know that close monitoring and quick action at the slightest change indicating a downward tick will be crucial.
Fortunately, Pittsburgh CAT took them in as fosters so we have 24/7 access to experienced foster folks and vet techs who will and do often go running to the clinic in Tarentum in the middle of the night to volunteer their time to save a cat. They saw the entire kitten caboodle three times in five days during the worst of their illness last year. Laura sat up most of the night with Artemic, applying cool compresses and exchanging FB messages with a Pgh CAT volunteer. They are good people.
So we anticipate this will be an adventure and add a little twist to the typical holiday magic. They have to be isolated for two weeks and then we can slowly introduce them to the kitten tent and the household critters.
You might imagine that our household critters are quite intrigued by this turn of events. They make not so subtle attempts to get into the bathroom (nope, nope, and nope) and they are super clingy. I have threatened to trade them in, but I’m just kidding. We are counting on them to help with socialization and the importance of imparting kitty wisdom to the young ones.
Simon used to be our ambassador cat, so we’ll have to see who picks up the mantle moving forward.
If you can help us help them, hurrah. Every bit chips away at the vet bills, the necessary supplies, and more. I know that I just asked you to (successfully!) help us raise $2500 for TNR supplies. I know it is the holidays for some and winter is tough for everyone. Budgets are tight.
If you can pitch in a bit, that would be so fantastic. I’m anticipating needing the pricier canned food that’s $28/case versus the usual $14/case, meds, and more. We also want to repay Tara for the vet bills if possible and contribute to Pittsburgh CAT for their support of the winter kittens.
We’ve also set up an Amazon wishlist of some of the basic supplies the kittens will need. If you are able, the items will ship directly to our home.
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