On the afternoon of Wednesday, June 27th 2018, Chris Poole a.k.a. “Cat Man Chris”, popped into his wife Jessica Josephs’ office with a sly smile on his face.
“Want to foster 2 kittens until Sunday when an experienced foster mom will have room for them? They were found at an RV park and just opened their eyes so we’ll have to bottle feed them.”
Shaking his head “yes” through the entire proposition, Jessica laughingly agreed. Earlier that week, 4 tiny kittens, only a little over a week old, were guests in the house. Staying a short 24 hours with the crazy cat couple, the miniature foursome had opened the door, and their hearts, to bottle-babies needing fostering.
Knowing many of these infant kittens are commonly euthanized due to needing round-the-clock care and lack of available fosters able to do so, it becomes impossible to say “no” when you have the means and time to help them.
Chris rushed to pick up the rescued kittens from St. Francis Society Animal Rescue, while Jessica readied the master bathroom, transforming it into the kitten nursery. Nearby, Cole and Marmalade cautiously eye’d the movements taking place in their favorite bathroom. The famous brothers would be kept separate from the fosters. With unknown medical statuses of the young kittens and Marmalade’s FIV, the first priority was to avoid exposing Cole and Marm to anything.
When Chris returned home with a pair of screaming infants, Cole and Marm were quick to retreat and flickers of questioning regret shown in the humans eyes. But dedication and determination won out and the precious lives of the helpless kittens became just as important.
Jessica pulled two filthy kittens from the carrier, eyes partially crusted shut and fleas covering their bodies. The fur-babies were not shy about letting everyone hear their powerful cries.
Applying a warm cloth on their eyes and gently wiping the dirt from their fragile bodies, the frightened duo began to settle down. With newly opened eyes and ears still slightly folded, the neonates were estimated to be about 11 days old, still requiring bottle feedings every 3 hours. They were safely given a ¼ dose of a flea pill crushed and administered with a syringe. *Please note this was ONLY done with medical approval and should not be done freely as it can be dangerous for neonates and young kittens.
There were long days ahead for Chris and Jess, taking shifts to ensure the kittens received the required feedings throughout the night hours. Chris, the early bird would rise at 6:00 am for mealtime and Jess, the night owl would stay awake until 2:00 am for the most sleep deprived schedule adjustment.
The next day, another surprise came!
Another sibling had been found at the RV park hiding in a nearby abandoned vehicle. The third kitten was dropped off, this one tinier and with both eyes crusted shut.
By this time, dozens of dead fleas had fallen off the first 2 kittens and with the new arrival, it was time for much needs baths. Jess gently held them under warm water and rinsed their fur clean. A quick dry and they were left with 3 adorable, MUCH better smelling, fur-babies! Their beautiful fur freshly groomed, there was one gray Tabby, one Tortie and one Torbie; a mix of Tabby & Tortie.
At this young age, it is VERY difficult to determine the sex of kittens but by Saturday evening, it was clear that all three siblings were little girls. So it was time to officially name them.
With their extremely vocal expressions and razor sharp claws, they became The Pointer Sisters.
First, we have Anita, the Tabby. Nicknamed “Niti” as she is the most “needy” and not afraid to tell you when she wants to eat or be picked up.
Next, June the Tortie. Originally she would barrel into her sister and we were calling her “Jugg” for juggernaut. Fortunately June became June-bug became “Jugg”, so the nickname could remain!
Finally, comes Ruth the Torbie. One of singers in the group actually joined later which was perfect since Ruth, or “Ru-Ru” was found the next day.
Sadly, on Sunday morning their new foster mom came to pick them up. Chris and Jess had worked for 4 days showing the tiny kittens a life worth living. They said their good-byes and were promised lots of pictures and updates as the girls grew up.
24 hours later…another call came in from the St. Francis team.
Four kittens had been found, needing medical treatments and experienced supervision…would the CaM household be willing to take The Pointer Sisters back to make room for the others? OF COURSE!!
So the trio returned to the (secretly overjoyed) care of Chris and Jess. After happily having been allowed to return to his bathroom for a day, Marmalade helped appurrove the kittens housing this time; upgraded for their quickly growing little bodies. It was unknown how long the sisters would be staying this stint.
Luckily 1 night away didn’t allow for sleeping routines to return to “normal” so it was back to bottle-baby hours. The girls ate like champs with the most adorable tiny ear wiggles.
You've gotta love teeny kitten ear wiggles! <3#FosteringSavesLives #NationalKittenDay
Posted by Cole & Marmalade on Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Their housing was then again updated, complete with a litter pan which thankfully didn’t take long to be used correctly! They comfortably cuddle together on a feline heating pad with a simulated heartbeat stuffed animal for their extensive cat naps.
Growing up so quickly, the precious little girls are happily playing, running and climbing their mini scratching post just like normal cats. They are about 5 weeks old and still in the CaM household. Eating schedules are about every 4.5-5 hours now and they are being introduced to gruel.
Jugg seems to be the leader in age development stages, then Niti and Ru, as usual, is a few days behind her sisters. Individual purrsonalities are shining through and Niti is still the most clingy, Jugg chills and watches from a distance and Ru is a bit skittish unless she’s doing her favorite thing; playing with her sister Niti.
Fostering is certainly not an easy undertaking and comes with sleepless, worrisome nights hoping your once abandoned charges are healthy and survive. Then comes the task of helping them learn how to “cat”.
But while all this drains your energy and may be heartbreaking when they are finally adopted into their fur-ever homes, nothing makes it more worthwhile then to see your temporary babies bring smiles to the faces of others. Knowing that you can keep helping other felines have a chance of survival is the continuing reminder to yourself to take in the next litter.
If you are considering fostering, or in financially supporting fosterers, please contact your local shelter or rescue group to see how you can help! Spay/Neuter your pets and TNR stray & ferals whenever possible!