Approximately two months ago, the local shelter contacted me in regards to five tiny deliveries to my door. Just shy of one week old, the little furballs were so vulnerable and I was honoured to be considered as a foster carer for these fragile little lives.
The cage which I had in mind was too big for them. How do I know this, you ask? Well, when I placed them into the cage and shut the door, they wriggled out from between the bars without any effort. After retrieving my own jaw from the ground, I quickly retreated into the walk-in robe and grabbed one of the animal transport crates I had used to transport my cats from Australia to Finland.
When the cage had been prepared and they were placed inside, I couldn’t help but wonder how they had survived alone. I knew that I had a heck of a job ahead of me, but would not let them down.
Every two hours, my alarm shook the bed and I took myself into the warm bathroom to bottle-feed, bathe and burp them, while also changing their bedding, kitty litter and more. Sleep deprived, I could barely walk, but I knew that their lives were entirely in my hands and no matter how tired I was, I had to continue with the gruelling schedule of feeding five kittens every two hours, with each feed lasting just over one hour.
My husband started to sleep on the couch. Not used to the bed vibrating and waking him from sleep, he knew that he would get better slumber with our two home cats snuggling up to his head and feet as I continued my routine. At the 4.00am feeding, I would then wake my husband for work, ensure he got up, had breakfast, showered and safely got to work, before I loaded the washing machine with numerous towels and my t-shirts on a daily basis.
At four weeks of age, two of the kittens sadly passed away due to weakness. Fading Kitten Syndrome took them from me as my heart shattered, but I had to continue for the sake of the remaining three. I could not let them down. At first, my heart would break at feeding time, seeing three of the kittens staring up at me in anticipation of their bottle instead of five kittens. I knew, however, that the two kittens who had perished (Sisu and Maa) had fought hard and survived for those extra three weeks because of my efforts. I knew that I could not blame myself for their decline, but my heart still aches.
Now seven weeks old, the three remaining kittens (Ilma, Tuli and Meri) are progressing in leaps and bounds. They have gained an incredible amount of weight without resembling beach balls, as many kittens tend to do. They outgrew their litter tray, outgrew the cage, and now have a cage which is double the size. Initially I would give them play time, twice per day, in a child’s ball pit which sat in the living room. This was great until they also outgrew that – their legs learned to jump right over the side and I was no longer able to keep them separate from my two cats.
Weaning was an adventure in itself, but it is a hurdle I am so glad we tackled successfully. The three kittens do not like milk any more, but I sneak some concentrated milk into their evening feed in order to keep their calcium uptake at a satisfactory level. I have twice had to Paraffin the kittens when their stools stopped. With tiny amounts to each (half of a milligram), they quickly joined the kitty litter brigade once more.
Now their new cage is the entire bathroom/laundry/sauna area, and the only time the kittens are moved back to their large cage is when I am doing the washing or having a shower. My husband is temporarily living with his mother so that I can finish raising these little fur-rascals to the point where they are successfully adopted into their forever-homes.
Although it is not paid work, it is wonderfully rewarding knowing that these tiny babies (which are not so tiny any more) are happy, healthy, love to play and explore because they were given a decent and fighting chance.
I am Deaf and no longer work as a Veterinary Nurse due to the emotional trauma of losing my patients in a fire which wiped out much of Canberra in 2003. In Finland, I am not permitted to work as Deaf people are seen as broken, incompetent and child-like. We are none of these things. I still have my skills which were learned in University (one of my TWO areas of expertise), and while it is not paid work, have finally returned to my calling, working with animals.
Should you have a home which is safe and have time to dedicate to animals in need, I most definitely recommend becoming a foster carer for animals who need a second chance in life. The rewards are immeasurable.
#animallivesmatter #KKY #fosterkittens #savealife #adoptdontshop
Check out some of the beautiful cats and kittens awaiting their forever-homes!