Years ago a work friend told me that she was a kitten foster-mom, taking care of baby kittens until they were old enough for permanent adoption; I'd never heard of such a thing at the time. But after we lost Chelsea, I remembered the story, and went seeking fostering opportunities. I met Lisa, the founder of Unconditional Love Animal Rescue, and she started us fostering kittens.
Eventually we became what is known as "failed" foster parents, because I kept wanting to keep them. That's how we ended up with four cats! I think Lisa has us on a watch-list now; I haven't heard from her in years. It wouldn't matter anyway, since we have enough territorial squabbles going on without introducing more trouble.
But it was great fun while it lasted. I miss having kittens around.
Lisa started us off slowly with a pair of kittens I named Ben and Jerry. Ben was a sweet little tabby, but Jerry was a holy terror. By the look of him and his temperament, I think he's part Siamese. We kept them for a couple of weeks, until they could be neutered; then Lisa took them away.
A couple of months later, we got a litter of four. By this time, we had adopted Ginny and she was fascinated with the kittens. She also was a natural mother, cleaning and snuggling the kittens as if they were her own.
This time we did a little more, taking the kittens to a weekend adoption fair. It was a bit weird, dropping them off in the cages and not knowing if we'd ever see them again, but it's something you get used to. I did get to see one of them again; Mimi's new mom kindly sent some adorable pictures of Mimi and her new friend.
Our next bunch of five came along right afterward. This litter had our first two little tortoiseshell girls. They were already pretty big, so again we only had these for a couple of weeks.
Almost immediately Lisa had new kittens for us; the supply never stops, as she visits a kill-shelter daily looking for the most likely candidates to save. This time was a little different, as these kittens were barely four weeks old, our youngest so far. These babies were TINY! In fact, we suspected they weren't even weaned yet, because we had some trouble getting them to start eating solid food. Finally Lisa came over with some extra-smelly venison food and showed us how to essentially force some into their mouths to get the pumps primed; after that, it was full speed ahead.
This was also the cutest and most personable litter we'd had; I couldn't get enough time with them, or take enough pictures. Ultimately we would adopt the one called Rusty, and rename him Peanut. Our first foster "failure".
After we "failed" with Peanut and adopted him, Lisa gave us a break to raise him. Two years later, I got back in touch; I had really missed having kittens. She brought us a litter of four cuties. It's a good thing I have Mike for sanity, because I could easily have kept all four.
The second day we had them, I noticed something was wrong with Max, the gray-and-white boy. He would just sit and shiver with half-closed eyes. So it was off to the emergency vet after a call to Lisa. Turned out to be an impaction and after a clean-out, he was good as new.
Somehow, though, that experience bonded me to him and I was lost. When it was adoption time two weeks later, I just couldn't let him go.
When we took Max's three siblings to the adoption fair, I saw an irresistible little orange girl in a cage all by herself; her name was Penelope and she was bouncing off the bars with energy. Two of our three girls were adopted that day, and when we returned to pick up the leftover, Lisa asked us if we'd take Penny home with us as well. She had been staying all alone with a working single girl and Lisa felt she would benefit from playtime with other kittens.
Fatal mistake. Once she was in my house, I rationalized, Max needed a playmate, right? Right?!? <*crickets chirp*> So this time we, er, I double-failed as fosters, and we ended up with four cats. FOUR cats. Savor that for a moment. (I should let Mike jump in here and write how he feels about it, but I'm not gonna.) Thus ended our short lives as foster kitten-parents and began our long lives as cat-parents. To four.
A very nice couple adopted Max's sister, the one we called Rainbow, and renamed her Sophie. They have stayed in touch and sometimes send photos of how nicely she's grown up.
We did have one more brief fostering experience. One day as we returned from a walk, a block away from our house, I found this poor baby parakeet sitting on the pavement shivering. He must have got away from someone, but who knows how far he might have flown; he was clearly exhausted. I bent down and put out my finger, and he climbed right on: hand-tamed, obviously. He rode home with me on my finger, and we made a makeshift cage from a cat-carrier. We knocked on doors and put up "Bird Found" flyers for several blocks, but no one claimed him.
Fortunately I was able to find a bird-rescue organization to take him; I really didn't feel we could keep him with four cats in the house. I still think about him whenever I pass the corner where we found him. The kind lady who took him sent me this photo of his new digs. She also sent me a short video of him chirping along to her Christmas music, so I know he found a good home.