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I never know what to expect when I come home from work.  This is why I keep the bathroom door closed when I’m away, but I forgot the other day.

This had to be Jasmine and Jade’s idea..my Terrible Two.

They only look incident.

Lucky for them, Mom thought it was funny.

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Every summer, whether I look for them or not..and usually I don’t, I end up fostering and placing at least one kitten.  It isn’t something I purposely try to do, it just works out that way.  Spring, summer, and fall in Georgia is kitten season.  Because of the warmer weather, cats can breed longer and have up to two litters a season.  Here in rural Georgia, cats are not valued, except for the few that make a living as a cattle or poultry farmer’s mouser/barn cat.

That farmer mentality regarding cats also means that they are left to breed and live by their wits. The result is a huge cat overpopulation problem in our area.  Our local shelter does a yeoman’s job of placing cats and kittens, many ending up with no-kill rescues in more metropolitan areas.  They also work with the veterinary school at the University of Georgia getting cats and kittens spayed and neutered for free before placing them.

But every once in awhile they get a kitten that they don’t have the resources for or can’t get into a no-kill rescue, and they call me.

Earlier this summer, it was Charlie, a 4wk old black domestic longhair, brought in by a woman who found it, but thought it was too young to keep. She actually ended up adopting one of the older shelter kittens and I took Charlie home.  As it happened, a couple I know in Atlanta had emailed me days before telling me one of their older cats had died of kidney disease and they were ready to adopt again.  So Charlie is now “Mr. Charlie” and lives with two other cats Phil and Margie adopted from me.

Then there was the calico kitten, bottle raised by a young woman who found it in her backyard.  She had raised it to six weeks and was going on vacation. I babysat for the little calico for a week.

When she came back, I was able to educate her on kitten care, vaccinations, low-cost spay/neuter and the importance of keeping the kitten inside. Since it was her first kitten, she was happy to get the info.

Then on Friday, as I stood in line at the local big box store, with a dozen things still left on my “to do” list, I get a call from Amy at the shelter.  “We have a project for you,” she said.  “Really? This isn’t a good time,” I thought.   “A little kitten was just brought in that’s covered in scabs, we think he was burned.  If you can’t take him, we’ll have to put him to sleep,” she said. “Just come look at him.” Since our shelter has no medical facilities, I thought I might as well see what the situation with this kitten was.

When I got there, he was sleeping on Amy’s chest, very quiet, very content. This one is the most calm, good-natured kitten I’ve ever seen.  But the top of his head and his ears were covered in one large scab, like he had been subjected to a burn so bad it left a 3rd degree burn.  The hair was gone and parts were just open sores.  You would have thought he’d be skittish, and shy, but he was just happy to be getting attention.

Needless to say, I took him on.  I named him Moshe (Hebrew for Moses).  He went straight to the vet from the shelter and spent the night there.  The vet removed his scab and cleaned his wounded head and ears, tested him for feline leukemia and feline AIDS, vaccinated and dewormed him, gave him a bath and a capstar.  They also checked him for ringworm and he’s negative.

Through it all he purred..and ate like a horse.   Since he was found on a local college campus by some students who brought him to the shelter, she thought he might have gotten up inside someone’s motor.

Kittens will do that, left outside on their own, looking for a place to hide.  It’s very dangerous. They can be severely burned by the hot motor or killed.   Whatever happened, the vet said he was healing and should be ready for adoption in about two weeks after a course of anti-biotics and antiseptic cream for his head.

Meantime, he spends most of his time in his soft-sided condo, but I do let him out to play and he and Cody my 1yr old kitten are becoming friends as this video shows.   Cody and my other cats are very accepting of him after the usual day of hissing and growling, which will make fostering him easier.  Now we just have to get him adopted.

CrissyAnne1 And I was disappointed to see two four-week old kittens up for adoption at a local Petsmart by a local humane society.  I know the group and they are a no-kill shelter. They have a big heart and are trying to rescue as many kittens as they can and get them adopted.  However, four week old kittens should never be put up for adoption, much less left in a cage at Petsmart for employees to take care of. 

There were two of them and I asked to look a both. No one from the rescue group was there. Every cage at Petsmart had the group’s kittens and cats for adoption.  These were the only two four-week olds.  Both, while fluffy and cute, were underweight.  A kitten should weigh one pound for every four weeks so these kittens should weigh a pound, but they obviously didn’t.  They were in with several older kittens and there was only one bowl of some sort of dry food available for them to eat and water.

Four week old kittens have teeth but still cannot negotiate hard kibble. It has to softened, preferably with KMR milk replacement. It’s not enough to think because they can eat on their own they can be adopted out.  The average person who adopts a kitten will feed it dry food only. So you have a four-week old kitten with a bowl of dry kibble in front of him he can’t eat.  The kitten either starves or is returned because it’s not eating.  Not only that, they’re just too tiny and fragile. 

I can’t tell you how many times as a cat placement volunteer in Atlanta I’d hear people say, “We want a teeny tiny kitten.”  No they don’t. “Teeny tiny” kittens are work. You can’t just leave them.

Well, I adopted one of them not because I wanted another cat, but because it needed to get out of there and that was the only way to do it. I then wrote to the president of the rescue group and told her I’d be willing to foster the other and explained why four-week olds shouldn’t be put up for adoption. Yes, the adoption paperwork listed the kittens’ ages as 4wks.

The kitten didn’t eat at first and had very hard stool, so I’m thinking she was also dehydrated. She was pretty bony yesterday but I made her a kitten mush and used a baby bottle with a bigger than average hole in the nipple and got it down her that way.  Also gave her some nutra-cal, which is a high caloric and is good for jumpstarting appetites in underweight animals. Today, her belly is fat and she’s doing much better.

CrissyAnne3 This morning she was ravenous and has done nothing but eat, sleep, potty. Mostly, she wants to cuddle and that’s the other thing with 4wk old babies…they’re not independent enough from their mothers to be away from them.  They still need a lot of nurturing and normally spend most of their time sleeping, playing and eating by the queen.  They don’t have a real sense of adventure to explore much beyond the queen’s nest.

So, if you see someone trying to adopt out four-week old kittens, take them and offer to foster them for your local shelter or take them to your local vet. Be pro-active. It’s the same for puppies.  Just because someone wants to get rid of the litter as fast as they can, doesn’t mean the litter is ready to be adopted.

"This is fun!"

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