Reading Dr. Nelson’s latest blog, http://drnelsonsveterinaryblog.com on the foster litter takes me back  to my days as the chairperson for the Cat Placement Committee for the Gwinnett Humane Society in Atlanta.  I fostered many a litter of kittens, some newborns, some a little older.

Many were found abandoned or the mother cat hit by a car. Some just dropped off in a box at the local Petsmart because people knew we did adoptions there.

It’s always a challenge to get these little guys going again after being abandoned, but obviously rewarding when they turn that corner. As Dr. Nelson says in her blog, it’s always touch and go when they’ve gone so long without food and fluids.  I always immediately fed orphans a diet of KMR milk replacement followed by periodic doses of Pedialyte natural flavor.

It’s so rewarding when they’re finally 8wks old or so to be able to place them in loving homes. Often, I would received photos and cards months, even years later, letting me know how the kitten, now a cat was doing.

Such was the case with Hobie, an orphan kitten who lived to a good old age with Phil and Margie Henry.

It was 1994 when I got a call from a woman on GHS’s “trouble line” about an orphan kitten that wouldn’t stop screaming and crying. I could hear him in the background. She was at her wit’s end. She meant well but had been feeding him cow’s milk in an eyedropper.  She explained that when her husband pulled their boat out of storage that spring to put in the water at Lake Lanier (a large reservoir lake north of Atlanta), he found the two=week old kittens in his boat.  Instead of taking them to a vet or shelter, the threw them overboard into the water.  His wife jumped in and scooped them out but all died except Hobie.

I told her to bring him to my place immediately.  She knocked at my door and I grabbed the screaming kitten from her hands, thanked her and shut the door.  Granted I could have been nicer..I regret that, but Hobie was the latest in a string of orphan kittens that summer and I was a little frayed at the edges.

Anyway, I immediately started him on KMR in an orphan bottle.  He suckled that bottle with all his might, resting on my chest so he could hear my heartbeat as he nursed. ( That became his nightly routine before bed, even long after he was weaned.  He would lie on my chest as I watched tv, grab his “baba” with both paws and suck down his KMR milk, batting away the older cats who came to inspect what he was doing. )

This little two-week old had gone three days on nothing but cow’s milk, which cats cannot digest. It causes severe diahrea, which he had.

HobieBaby2Into a dark cozy, warm carrier he went after a bathroom pee with a warm moistened cotton ball over the toilet.  Then a warm cozy dark den in a little carrier on my diningroom table for his naps.  I had a pet warming pad that wasn’t electric. It absorbed body heat and reflected it back, creating a nice warm cozy den. I put in a tiny stuffed tiger about h is same size that substituted for the littermates he lost.

I named him Hobie Cat because of where he was found.  Hobie, a white with tabby patches shorthair, grew and became a healthy happy, rambunctious kitten and my cats hated him.  He would steal their toys, jump on them, sleep in their special beds..he was a brat, but he was adorable and I loved him.

Hobie Dryer

Sometimes a new kitten is accepted, sometimes not.  It was clear Hobie would be a dominate male and my household already had one of those, my Maine Coon Buddy.  So I knew I was going to have to place him.

He went with me to adoptions at Petsmart but I wasn’t advertising him because I really didn’t want to let him go.  Then a 40-something couple walked up to the adoption center.  They were newly weds with no children. We connected immediately. Phil and Margie , he a big burly engineer, she a soft-spoken gal who worked with the elderly, were a lovely couple. They had no pets and no children and both were wanting a cat.

Hobie Stairs2

Phil immediately saw Hobie playing with his stuffed tiger in his cage.  Reluctantly, I took Hobie out to show him.  Hobie immediately climbed up Phil’s arm and sat on his shoulder, nuzzling his ear.  That was that and I knew it.  But I also knew Hobie would want for nothing and be the king of their home.  And for 12 years he was.  He was Phil’s best friend, especially when Phil was working at home on his computer.  Hobie would lay next to the keyboard or monitor. Or sleep in his lap while he read or watched tv.

Hobie and Tabby

Through the years, Phil and Margie and I all moved to other states or parts of the state, but they would send me photos and emails on Hobie and the two additional kittens they adopted so Hobie would have company when they were at work.  We all became good friends and I often visited their home. When Hobie was diagnosed with stomach cancer at age 12, it was a blow.  He lived a few more weeks before Phil and Margie made the tough decision to end his suffering and let him go over the rainbow bridge.

Phil took it the hardest, but about a year later, they adopted another foster cat from me..a year old female Himilayan with a purrsonality that stole their hearts.  Still, there’ll never be another Hobie.   If I can find a scanner, I’ll upload some of the many photos of Hobie and his wonderful life.

Saying all that to say, fostering and placing kittens (or puppies) is one of the most rewarding things you can do.

Well, my friend Jennifer is here ..going to help me finish putting up the cat fencing today.

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