Fosters: From Veggies to Sassafras

Five weeks ago, the animal shelter called to ask me if I could take over care for a litter of four bottle babies. They were about 4-5 weeks old and only a week out from weaning, so I agreed. This is just about the only way I can take on bottle babies, given my sleep disorder and Jason’s work schedule. I honestly wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to take another bottle baby unless they landed on my doorstep in an emergency situation like Shai and Hulud did. It was quite sweet to suddenly have four littles scrambling for their bottle again.

(Clockwise from top left: Sprout, Broccoli, Bean, Okra)

Our Veggie Tails were quite a lot of work. Unlike most cats, it took them weeks to figure out how to use the litterbox properly. They also had diarrhea issues that required four different meds to clear up. Because of their early life traumas (which led them to being orphaned at about a week old), they were extremely malnourished and had a lot of catching up to do in the weight department – especially Okra, the runt of the litter. He weighed only 350 grams when he arrived at our house, almost 200 grams smaller than he should have been for that age, and about 100 grams smaller than his siblings.

Despite all the issues, the Veggies ended up thriving. By their last night with us, all four siblings ended up over 1000 grams, well past the two-pound mark they needed to make for surgery. Our five weeks with them gave us a really good idea of their personalities, too. Sprout was the leader and protector, less cuddly and more independent, so it felt like you were chosen every time she asked to be snuggled and actually started purring. Bean was a lover and preferred to cuddle than to play, and he and Sprout were extremely attached to each other (hopefully they get adopted together!). Broccoli was an explorer and an adrenaline junkie, who frequently stood on her hind legs and waved her arms around to “scare” whatever toy she was attacking. Okra was a total goofball with no spacial awareness – he’d easily roll off a lap or run into a table leg – and a healthy dose of Drama King, the kind of cat who would begin screaming in “pain” during wrestle sessions before he was even touched. All four were as sweet as can be, and we will miss them.

(Clockwise from top left: Broccoli, Sprout, Okra, Bean)

Which brings me to…Sassafras.

The Veggies were the last big litter we could take for the spring, because Elle (Laurence) will be returning home next week for the summer and we’ll no longer have our big foster room. We can foster a singleton or duo in Jason’s room, but it’s a small room so no full litters, and we need a little more time between litters to clean things. (My room, sadly, can’t be used to foster except very short term with healthy kittens because it’s carpeted.) In addition to the change in house circumstances, Jason and I have our upcoming Planniversary vacation, and we can’t take in fosters that will need to be here longer than the intervening time. We also know that sometimes a batch of kittens will need “only a week” of foster, and that week will snowball into a month or more, like with Petunia.

On Monday, a singleton who needed fostering for only a week showed up on the daily email. Her name was Sassafras, and I volunteered to bring her home, even though the timing would overlap with our Veggie Tails by a couple days. When I picked her up, they told me that 1) she’d only come in to the shelter a few hours before, so they knew nothing about her history; 2) she weighed 1.9 lbs so she just needed to gain a little weight, though I also needed to monitor her for any potential illnesses/parasites/etc; and 3) she was extremely shy and a little hissy, but not mean. This last bit ended up being exactly right. Sassafras was terrified of humans and would hiss a little, but not attack. Which meant that our main goal over the week we’re supposed to have her is to get her socialized.

A week is not a lot of time and honestly, I kinda wish we could opt for two weeks. We’ve had to put her in a large playpen because otherwise she’ll hide under furniture and never come out. She’s gotten used to Jason because the room smells like him, so at night she’ll sit beside him a little. She’s also gotten to the point where she’ll purr if we touch her, but she’ll also hiss before we touch her, so she’s just very confused about what’s going on right now. She needs time. However, I have no control over the timing of this. The thing I worry about most is that someone will snatch her up because she’s a beautiful siamese kitten, not knowing that it’s going to take some work to help her feel comfortable and safe. So wish us luck with her, that she’ll either socialize quickly or the shelter will give us more time. One way or another, hopefully Miss SassyPants will be a sweet happy little Sassafras before she hits the adoption floor!


About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
This entry was posted in Personal and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.