fostering

boris and natasha and muffin and patch

oops, i forgot to update: boris and natasha were indeed adopted, straight from surgery. i emailed their mom today to try to get an update.

PSA: if you adopt an animal, please send occasional updates to the people who cared for that animal before you. shelter staff, volunteers, and fosters get very attached to the animals for whom we care. photos and videos are wonderful, but even just a quick note to let us know that the animal is still with you and happy. because that is what we want and what we work for. and most of us have had our former charges die, be dumped or returned, or have challenges in their adoptive homes, so we worry. those little updates are breathe-easy reassurances that at least *this* one is okay.

and if yours *isn't* okay, don't wait until it's exasperating, frustrating, and end-of-your-rope ready-to-give-up kind of stuff. ask us for help and advice. we want you and the animal to be happy together. i've done consults with adoptive families in their homes, via email, via text, via phone, via facebook, via messenger, you name it. i know aspects of the animal you might not yet, i might have experienced issues like yours before and have some solutions to suggest, and i know other people who will if i haven't.

okay, that's today's psa. the new fosters i brought home wednesday are a pair of seven-year-old bonded brothers, patch and muffin. from what i gather from their intake paperwork, they lived their whole lives with one woman (no other people and no other animals), and then she died three months ago. her grown child took the boys in but discovered cat allergies and surrendered them to the shelter.

they are wonderful boys, but they are terrified. in the shelter, the only space for them was a regular cage to share, and they weigh 12 and 15 pounds (so, not small). they were completely shut down. hiding, afraid, and, as i can only imagine, confused. so the shelter hopes that being in a foster home can help them adjust and flourish.

because they are large adults, i didn't put them directly into a cage. the only one i currently have set up in the foster room is the kitty condo, which is great for kittens but isn't really built for large adults to jump from shelf to shelf. i could have used a dog cage, but it's still snug in there and i thought they would be okay with free rein in the room. but it means that they have successfully hidden under the sofa most of the time they've been here. (note: this is *not* the ideal for a foster room. this is why we recommend that adopters and fosters keep the animals in a bathroom, or at least another small room: there can be spaces where the animal can feel hidden and safe but is never really inaccessible to you if you need to get them. we really screwed up buying this sofa for the foster room. it's beautiful [but of course covered with slipcovers and blankets to protect it] and comfortable, but it provides a nice hidey-hole for a cat.)

 

so the first few days of operation muffin patch™, i hung out in the foster room for a few hours at a time just to get them used to me being around and my smell. i keep dry food and fresh water out for them 24/7, but i put out canned food only when i come into the room. and i try to pretend to ignore them as much as i can, so i'm not threatening to them.

with the hiding place, though, they really never had to interact with me at all. they could just wait to eat, drink, stretch, or use the litter box until after i left the room. so i moved into the room again like i had while elvis and priscilla and boris and natasha were here. and it's helping. they've *had* to come out of hiding at least a little while i'm in there. since then, they've become a little less afraid of me. muffin has slept on the back of the sofa

muffin is finally relaxing out in the open while i'm in the room.

muffin is finally relaxing out in the open while i'm in the room.

and explores the room a bit, and today he even came out in broad daylight for the first time. he sat in the middle of the room grooming himself, even when he knew i was awake and facing him. and he ate right beside me, within easy reach. but i have resisted trying to pet him.

i haven't seen patch come out of hiding, but they are faithfully using the litter boxes across the room, so i know he is. i can hear them snoring and stretching under the sofa, which makes me happy. any little sign of progress toward relaxation.

i cry when i think about how confused they must be. missing their human and wondering when she's coming back and why they had to leave their home. and although they are not aggressive at all, i expect that it's going to be a while before they are adoptable. it's fine with me for them to stay as long as they need. they are a breeze to take care of compared with kittens, even easy kittens. i think my only challenge is going to be getting them to their first few vet checks—before they trust me enough to let me handle them, which is a must to get them into their carriers. i'm hoping that i can skip the first one next week and that i can handle them to get them into a carrier by the four-week one. wish me luck.

boris and natasha are almost ready for their forever homes!

I expect that my two adorable, cuddly, playful, litter-trained, three-month-old foster kittens, Boris and Natasha, will be ready for adoption Thursday of next week (August 16). They came to me for foster around June 20 (bad foster mama didn't note the date) to get socialized (SO HISSY) and to recover from upper-respiratory infections and goopy eyes. They are healthy and affectionate now and will be perfect pets for someone. They have spent little bits of time with my barky opinionated dog and my friendly cat and are delighted with both of them. I hope they go together; kittens need to have a playmate at home! They will be adoptable through Humane Animal Rescue (the shelter on Hamilton Avenue at Dallas Avenue). The adoption fee includes the kitten, fully vetted and up to date on shots, microchipped, and spayed (Natasha) or neutered (Boris), plus the toys they've loved while in foster and my lifetime support and advice whenever you need it. If you are interested in both but can afford only one adoption fee, I will pay the other one for the right home.

They are both blue (gray). Natasha is darker, a graphite color, with no white but slightly visible tabby patterning in darker gray. Boris is a bit lighter than Natasha and has a wee white locket (white spot on his throat) and a white tip on his tail. His tabby patterning is more visible and looks like cinnamon swirl (if cinnamon were dark gray).

There are loads of photos and some video on Instagram @wordgirrl and @pghtails. If you're not on Instagram, you can see some on Twitter @pghtails as well!

If you're interested in meeting them, please contact me and we'll set something up! If no one arranges before then to adopt them, they'll go to the shelter Wednesday, have surgery Thursday, and be on the adoption floor Thursday evening or Friday morning.

hooray!

I think that my biggest challenge with Boris and Natasha has been trying to give them meds while also teaching them that human contact is the best thing ever. Being picked up is hard to get used to, and having it end with being held still against your will to have eyedrops plunked into your eyes and a syringe with icky stuff forced into your mouth is just plain rude. They hate it. They fight it. I have to wrap them partially in a little burp cloth to keep from getting clawed *too* badly. And yes, they still need meds. Their little eyes are goopy and red, with the inner lid showing quite a bit sometimes. They sneeze frequently, spraying wet little droplets on me. And poor Natasha has developed some terrible diarrhea. I had to put chux pads down all over the floor, sofa, playpen, and condo so i would have a little less cleanup to do (which had been constant).

I did find a little trick to make it a little easier for them to tolerate me. I keep their food and water in the condo, and that's the only place they get them. I keep the condo doors latched except for one, right by the sofa. When they both go in, if it's anywhere near time for meds (these are twice daily), i stealthily but quickly close the one open door so they are locked in. Then I can prep their meds without them running to hide and then carefully take one out, do the meds, release that one, and repeat with the other. I like this system because it's not teaching them anything negative, like that it's not safe to go to the litter boxes, which are in the playpen, or to be near me (because I never grab them to do meds while they are just out and about in the room).

The hooray for today is that I had to restart the meds after a few days off and had worried that they would backslide into fearfulness after we'd really gotten to a good place with snuggling, petting, and approaching. They've stopped being hand-shy, pretty much, and they both climb on me for snuggles and snuggle up next to me while I'm working. I didn't want that to stop. But I gave them their first doses this morning, and almost immediately after, they were both purring and approaching me for pets. Hooray! I can medicate them properly now (ten days!) and get them well again for surgery so they can find their forever home (or homes).

And yes, that's really the biggest challenge for me: letting them go at the end. I do get so attached. 

Sweetest snuggles

last night one of the kittens—it was too dark to tell which, but I think that the purr sounded like Natasha’s—gave me the sweetest snuggle session when I laid down to sleep. She climbed up tentatively onto my chest and then settled in up against my chin. She was batting gently at my face and my hand when I petted her, flopping over for new positions, and purring like crazy. It lasted for a really long time (half an hour? An hour?) before she hopped up to the back of the sofa for the night. This was the longest either of them had allowed contact, let alone initiated it. Heaven. 

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because it was too dark to get a photo or video, I offer you some photos of them during a recent day. 

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Natasha’s scary day

poor sweetie. They like to play in this area behind and beside the sofa that is full with a radiator, a humane trap, and a big folded fake-grass ramp for our arthritic dog. Yesterday, I heard kitten shrieks and found that she had gotten stuck, head first, between the wall and the radiator; her round little belly was too big for her to slide all the way down, but her paws couldn’t back her back up to the top. Fortunately, this radiator hasn’t been hooked up, so I pulled the top away from the wall and she plopped down onto the floor, upright and physically fine. But she couldn’t seem to just walk out of the tight space at the floor, yet she was still terrified of me. Her face had this “oh shit” expression when she realized that her only hope for freedom was me touching her. So I picked her up and put her on my back, bent over, while I made sure Boris wasn’t under there and put the radiator upright again. She froze there for a few moments before fleeing to hide for a little while. Sweet Boris was calling for her until she finally decided that it was safe to emerge from hiding. She’s been playing and her usual self since then. 

They've both been climbing up onto the sofa to see me. Boris willingly comes and watches me and will let me pet him briefly. Natasha is still hissy if I look at her, but she allows a little more closeness daily. It’s fun to watch, though they are so soft and fuzzy and cute that it’s really hard not to be able to cuddle them. I’m looking forward to being able to do that. 

Natasha (the darker one farther away) even gave me some slow blinks yesterday, and she didn’t hiss when we were this close. Boris is already affectionate, if still a little cautious. They are going to be amazing pets. 

Natasha (the darker one farther away) even gave me some slow blinks yesterday, and she didn’t hiss when we were this close. Boris is already affectionate, if still a little cautious. They are going to be amazing pets. 

progress!

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SO MUCH PROGRESS TODAY!! i am letting boris and natasha roam the room freely again, but i napped on the floor for a while, which gave them a chance to investigate without threat, and then i sat on the floor for a few hours doing the same, and they each scampered across me a few times. and just now i decided that my butt was too sore from floor time, so i moved to the sofa, and they have EACH climbed up (a first, as far as i know) to investigate me and the laptop. right now, one of them is sitting right beside me watching the other playing on the floor. the one sitting beside me i *think* is natasha! and she is touching me. it's so wonderful to finally be breaking through to her. and i got slow blinks from him a little bit ago.

the gray fosters, day 4

boris and natasha, june 2018

boris and natasha, june 2018

(originally written on monday, june 25, 2018, but not published until saturday, june 30)

i know, i missed the first few days here. i posted a bunch on social media, and i'll transfer that stuff over here at some point. but here we have day 4 with the gray fosters (whose names are either koko and all ball or boris and natasha—i'm still deciding, but i'm leaning toward boris and natasha). it's their second day in the playpen. it's also the first morning i've found them sleeping outside the kitty pod, which shows me that they're starting to feel more comfortable. they still hissed at me when i went to pick them up, but of course i gave them eyedrops and antibiotics, so why wouldn't they?

they are scampering and playing in the playpen beside me. i'm sitting on the floor working, and i'll open the zipper door enough to put my hand in there and pretend to ignore them. yesterday i did this, and they approached to sniff me. i like this exercise in any form because it lets them investigate me in a way that lets them feel safe.