Pet Foster Series: Orphaned Kittens, 6-8 Weeks Old

Welcome back to the pet fostering series! The previous blog was on orphaned kittens 4-6 weeks old, and this blog is on orphaned kittens 6-8 weeks old. Kittens at eight weeks of age, are healthy, and weigh two pounds are eligible for adoption! So this is the last time to foster kittens before they find their forever homes. Kittens at this age are almost independent, super active, and tons of fun.

Two of my foster kittens learning how to climb into baskets!

General Expectations

If you foster kittens at a younger age, when they reach 6-8 weeks old, they are a lot of fun and pretty crazy! If you get them when they are 6-8 weeks old, there is a chance that they will be slightly afraid of you at the beginning. This age group has a lot of energy and will be moving around a lot, so you will want to give them a decent amount of space and an assortment of toys. If they are a little bit afraid at first, you will need to be patient and win their trust over. This will require some socialization to humans.

Time Commitment

Depending on how healthy the kittens are you are fostering will depend on the time commitment. Healthy, 6-8 week-old kittens will need feedings every 5-6 hours, their weight checked, their litter cleaned, and playtime. If they are on the r end, they will need close weight monitoring, and feedings every 3-4 hours. It’s important to evaluate the kittens as soon as you bring them home to see where they are at health-wise and make a care plan accordingly.

Supplies Needed

These kittens would do best in a space where they can run around and play. This may be a closed room or a room with a gate. They would also be fine in a playpen as long as they have ample amount of time to run around and play during the day. For example, in my previous home, I did not have an extra room, so I kept the three kittens in a large playpen, but I let them out to run around and play while being monitored multiple times a day.

These kittens will also need a litter box, non-clumping litter, toys, water, dry food, and wet food. It is important to give them options between wet and dry food, so they can learn what they like the best. I leave out dry food for my fosters at all times and provide wet food during scheduled feedings. You will want to provide water in a low bowl to reduce the risk of them drowning.

Conclusion

In conclusion, kittens 6-8 weeks old are a great mess to have around! They will want to be playing all of the time they are awake, but will still take long naps. They are great for most people who want to get into fostering and it provides a look into the world of fostering kittens. I would highly encourage anyone who wants to foster felines to bring home 6-8 week-old kittens – they are a good learning experience but not as complicated as younger kittens.

The only type of home I would not recommend for these kittens is one that you cannot carve away space for them. Since these kittens are running around, a home with heavy furniture, glass vases, or other fragile things is not the right home for these wild ones. If you do have these items in your home but are willing to relocate or store them away, for the time being, you will be ready to foster these felines as well. Subscribe to my blog for more information on fostering adult animals!

Pet Foster Series: Orphaned Kittens, 4-6 Weeks Old

Welcome back to the pet foster series! My previous blog post was on orphaned kittens, 2-4 weeks old. This week’s blog is on orphaned kittens 4-6 weeks old, also considered the weaning age. In these two weeks, a kitten will have all, or most, of its deciduous teeth, they’re introduced to wet food, and they can get their first booster shots. Kittens at this age will be very active when they’re awake but still sleeping a majority of the day.

General Expectations

Four to six-week-old kittens have a lot of energy to get out, followed by a long nap! They are learning how to climb, chew, knead, run, play, and more. You should expect a lot of excitement and then a very long nap afterward. Kittens at this age are usually sleeping more than 20 hours of the day, which means they are growing. All of their teeth will be coming in, so this will also be a time where teaching them lifelong good habits is a necessity. They will want to bite everything, but as their foster, it is your responsibility rid these bad habits before adoption.

Time Commitment

From 4-6 weeks old, kittens are in the weaning stage, meaning they will be transitioning from bottles to soft kitten food. Sometimes when kittens are learning how to eat wet food, it can quickly turn into bath time. You should always make sure you have ample time to feed them and clean up after them. They need feedings every 5-6 hours, which gives a longer night’s sleep than younger kittens. Kittens will also be litter training which requires regular clean-up.

My foster kitten after a messy meal!

Supplies Needed

When fostering a kitten at this age group, you will need a litter box, non-clumping litter, a heat source, water, wet food, formula, syringes, and bottle supplies on hand. You will also need cleaning supplies to clean up litter box messes, kittens after a feeding, and their general areas. Kittens will also be moving around a lot, so they should be in a locked room or a safe portion of the house with a gate. I keep kittens in a room, and when I am home, I let them wander around my kitten-proofed house.

In conclusion, kittens at this age are so much fun and a joy to have in the home! They do require feedings 4-5 times a day, and you should still be regularly monitoring their overall health. They will be busy in short spurts of time and then need a cozy place to sleep. This age group of kittens would be great for someone who works and can come home on their lunch or works from home, those that are home for a majority of their day, or students that have a break between classes. These kittens would also be a great learning experience for families with children who want to learn about kitten care and be actively involved. Stay tuned for my next blog on weaned kittens!

Pet Foster Series, Orphaned Kittens, 2-4 Weeks Old

My previous blog post was on foster kittens aged 0-2 weeks old. In this week’s blog, we will move forward on the growth timeline, and focus on kittens aged 2-4 weeks old. It may not seem like enough time for changes amongst kittens, but it is! Kittens are now trying to learn how to move around, they may have some teeth coming through, and are learning how to use a litter box. Find out below if this age is a good fit for your home and lifestyle.

One of my foster kittens around 20 days old!

General Expectations

Kittens aged 2-4 weeks old go through a lot of growth. Around two weeks of age, they start opening their eyes and moving around, very wobbly of course, and they can get their first dose dewormer (a necessity for kittens, especially those that were found outside). Moving into three weeks of age, they are becoming a lot more stable in their movement, they can hear a lot clearer, and their first teeth will start poking through. Kittens 2-4 weeks old still need a heat source, but may not use it as much, should be bottle-fed, and will transition to a litter during this time.

Time Commitment

At two weeks of age, kittens need to be bottle-fed every 3-4 hours, and at three weeks of age, every 4-5 hours. They will still need to be stimulated to go to the bathroom, but this is the perfect time to introduce a litter box. You will need to monitor litter box usage and encourage clean litter box habits. 2-4 week-old kittens should still be monitored closely for any changes, but the time commitment is slightly less strenuous than newborn kittens.

Supplies Needed

As 2-4 week-old kittens are becoming more active, they will need an area where they can safely move around. This can still be a playpen or maybe a bathroom or bedroom where you can close the door. You will need bottle supplies, formula, a litter box, non-clumping litter, and a heat source. At this age, kittens will not use the heat source as often, but they should always have the option available to them. Puppy pads are not required but are highly recommended for litter box training as well as keeping cleaning and bathing supplies on hand for accidents.

In conclusion, 2-4 week-old kittens are still an important commitment, but they in a very transitional and fun age, where you may be willing to find ways to make it work to experience it. These kittens are great for someone who works from home and can monitor the kittens throughout the day, goes to school, or works full-time. These kittens would also be a fun age if you are a stay-at-home parent, as the squirming kittens are so cute to watch! Keep in mind, weight and overall health should still be monitored closely, and isn’t recommended to be away for too long in which something could happen. Stay tuned for my next blog post on kittens aged 4-6 weeks old!

Pet Foster Series: Orphaned Kittens, 0-2 Weeks Old

If you are following along with this series, welcome back! In my previous blog post, I reviewed the basic expectations when fostering a pregnant cat or already has her kittens. This blog post in this series will be on orphaned kittens from birth to two weeks old. This age is detrimental for many reasons – this period of time can be fatal, or it can set them up for a healthy, long life.

When a kitten is orphaned, it means that its mother is not around or was not found. This could be for many reasons, but the most common is that the mother cat was feral, and a good samaritan found her babies outside, needing supportive care. You, or the rescue you are working with, should always exhaust options finding the mother, but it is not always that easy. Kittens aged birth to two weeks old are very fragile and are usually referred to as ‘bottle babies.’

Photo via @kittenxlady on Instagram

General Expectations

Orphaned bottle babies are very young and will need a lot of supportive care. They need to be fed around the clock, have a heat source at all times, they need to be stimulated to go the bathroom, and require weight check-ins and general health monitoring multiple times a day. Bottle babies are a super exciting age group as this is when they will learn how to hiss, meow, wiggle around, and will also open their eyes around ten days old!

Time Commitment

If you are working or going to school full time, and not home often, bottle babies may not be the right fit for you. Bottle babies need to be fed every two hours around the clock. This means you are up through the night at 10 pm, 12 am, 2 am, etc. If you work from home, you may be able to take on bottle babies, but please keep in mind, you will be groggy when you’re getting used to being up all night! You may even be able to take on bottle babies if your job allowed you to bring them

Supplies Needed

Young kittens cannot control the temperature of their bodies, therefore, a heat source is needed around the clock. If you have access, an incubator is the best option for neonates, but there are other options like an electric heating pad or a microwaveable disk. You will need an enclosed area which can be a plastic bin without a lid, a small carrier, a small playpen, etc. You will need bottle feeding supplies and syringes, blankets or towels, and cleaning supplies. Another great item to have on hand is a stuffed animal with a heartbeat to simulate the mother being there.

In conclusion, bottle babies may not be for someone who has a lot of other time commitments in their life. A great time to take on bottle babies could be with your kids are on summer break (and you can teach them how to care for neonates!), if you are working remotely, are a stay at home or homeschooling parent, or can bring your bottle baby to work comfortably. Stay tuned for my next blog post on fostering orphaned kittens aged 2-4 weeks old!

Pet Foster Series: Mom Cat and Kittens

This blog series will help you decide which types of animals in need of foster care are the best fit for your lifestyle and home. I will review time restrictions, supplies needed, and other general expectations. I will touch on dogs, cats, and other small animals. The first blog of this series: fostering a pregnant cat or a mom cat with her kittens. Pregnant cats, especially during this time of year, are widely found in need of supportive care.

General Expectations

Pregnant cats, or a mom cat and her kittens, are commonly a somewhat simple first foster for beginners. They can also be a great way to learn the proper care of a kitten. Most of the time, the mom takes care of her kittens, and you are there to provide a clean and safe environment, nutrition, and be there for help if the mom needs support. The mother cat feeds her kittens, bathes them, stimulates them to go to the bathroom, and more.

Time Commitment

Fostering a momma cat requires minimal time commitment in comparison to other foster cases. With a mom, you should be checking in on the kittens once a day for weight, feeding mom regularly (I do 3x per day), as well as keeping her space clean and warm. I clean the space every 3-4 days until the kittens are about 4 weeks old, then I clean every other day. Kittens learning how to use a litter box can be very messy! This means that you would comfortably be able to have a full-time job or be in school while caring for this group.

Supplies Needed

An enclosed space is best for mom and her kittens, but depending on if the mom is feral or socialized, changes how quiet her environment needs to be. Feral cats are usually afraid of humans and do not want help, so a bedroom or bathroom with a door is a good option. With a friendlier cat, you may be able to keep them in a crate or playpen, if you do not have any other animals or young children in the home. Keep in mind, the less stressed the mother is, the better she will take care of her kittens, and less supportive care is needed from you! You will want to provide linens for comfort and easy clean-up, a litter box, and food and water.

In conclusion, pregnant cats or a mom with her kittens, are fairly easy foster cases to take on. They are low maintenance and a minimal time commitment – you just need to provide the home, check-ins, and food and water! Keep in mind that each situation is different, and I have not reviewed any medical difficulties that you may face. Please talk with your foster coordinator before taking on any foster care to ensure that it is the right fit for your home. Subscribe for information on more types of foster animals!

My very first foster, Chrissy, nursing her five, newborn kittens!

Types of Animals Needing Foster Care

Many people get into animal foster care for puppies and kittens because they are cute and tiny! And trust me, I agree, but most people do not realize the time and training necessary to care for these neonatal lives. Puppies and kittens require around-the-clock care, supplemental nutrition, potty training, and dependant on their health, a lot of monitoring. In contrast, there are plenty of low-maintenance animals that need a foster home for a multitude of reasons, and your lifestyle may be the right fit!

In the realm of cats and kittens, there are many different situations where an animal would require foster care. There are single, orphaned kittens, pregnant cats-to-be or with babies, a litter of kittens, bottle babies, injured kittens, and more. For adult cats, we see hospice fosters, injured cats, cats with a monitored illness, ringworm kittens, and feral cats. These needs may be met through foster homes with varying experience levels, availability, and overall attitude about the animals’ situation.

In the world of dogs, you may see litters of puppies, orphaned puppies, pregnant moms, or moms with babies in need of a foster home. You may also see injured dogs, sick dogs, dogs that need help with training, and hospice fosters. Fostering an animal is not limited to a certain age or breed, or even species!

Your work or school schedule, having children or other pets in the home, and space should all considered when choosing a foster pet. I will dive into the types of fosters, what their care requirements would look like, and what their ‘ideal’ foster home looks like. For an overview on fostering an animal, please visit https://resources.bestfriends.org/article/pet-fostering-qa.

These next blogs will be a series designed to help you decide on the right animal to take care of that fits your lifestyle. Before deciding on the type of animal, you will first need to decide if animal rescue and foster care are right for you. Check out https://www.petfinder.com/animal-shelters-and-rescues/fostering-dogs/ for more information. Subscribe to my blog for my upcoming series on choosing the right foster animal for your home!

Work From Home and Animal Fostering

Many people were affected in many different ways by the pandemic in the last year. One of the main changes people have endured is remote work – it seems as though everyone is working from home. As this can be a big change for some, including myself, most people had to find outlets so they didn’t feel like they were always working. An outlet that I found myself even more passionate about, was fostering. With some animals, supportive care is required somewhat often up to every 30 minutes. I will explain how you can work from home and save lives! For more info on supplies needed for your first foster, my previous blog is a great place to start https://kaelinleavitt.com/2021/03/05/get-ready-for-your-1st-foster/!

I have fostered kittens before the pandemic, so this was not new to me, but it was new for me to be at home all day with these furry creatures. I have found that working from home with fosters can be amazing as well as sometimes frustrating. Kittens are cute little furballs until they’re chewing your laptop chargers and ripping up all of the papers on your desk! In contrast, it is amazing to be by them and provide supportive care when needed. Many fosters thrive off of human interaction, which is a benefit of being at home all day. Animals rescues, such as SNIPSA, have used the pandemic to find more foster homes as well, https://www.mysanantonio.com/life/pets/article/Don-t-work-from-home-alone-Local-shelter-15137851.php.

My first set of fosters in the pandemic were what we call “spicy” kittens in the foster world. Spicy kittens are too young to be considered feral, but they do not like humans yet. They hissed, spit at us, and hid for the first few days, but with lots of love and trust, they were the cuddliest kittens in a week. We talked aloud all day long, which helps them get used to and comfortable with your voice, we bribed them with food, and wrapped them up in blankets, called a ‘purrito’ once a day – this is forced love, but they usually take to very quickly. Being home all day, these kittens learned how to love humans in a short period of time.

These kittens started out spicy, with feral-like behaviors, and then learned how cozy a bed and head scratches were!

My second group of fosters was a mom with her three, 5-week old kittens. At around four weeks old, kittens can be weaned from their mother, and right off the bat, I noticed that this was not happening the way it should. The kittens were sucking the nutrition out of the mom and she was becoming malnourished and unhealthy. Being home all day, I separated her from her kittens, give her some alone time to destress, and fed her. We then separated her from her kittens and found her a home. Now the kittens had a chance to become more independent and learn how to be kittens without their mom around.

These three found love and comfort in our homes and later found loving homes of their own.

My third foster was a little 5-week-old kitten who had a severe upper respiratory infection (URI) and ringworm, which I will explain more about in a separate blog. She had a lot of fight in her, and with hourly supportive care, she was able to grow into a healthy kitten, ready for her forever home. She needed food every two hours around the clock, medicine twice a day, and baths for her ringworm. Within four days, her URI cleared up, and we worked on getting rid of her ringworm lesions. In all of these cases, being home helped the process of providing supportive care a lot easier, and I was able to save all of these kittens in the stories above. Like this post for more information on fostering while WFH!

My little ringworm kitted who thrived after some TLC and supportive care!

Get Ready for Your 1st Foster!

This kitten warms up next to a microwaved sock of rice!

One of the most vital steps to be ready for your first foster is making sure you have all the necessary supplies to be able to help the animal. As kitten season is quickly approaching, it is a great time to make sure you have the supplies needed. Depending on the type of animal you are fostering, the items will vary. I will be explaining the items that you will need to foster kittens under the age of 8 weeks old. This age can face fatal consequences if the proper supportive care is not given. Keep in mind, there are a lot more items to assist in supportive care, but I will be explaining the most essential.

The first thing to understand about neonatal kittens is that they are unable to internally heat themselves until they are about 4-6 weeks old. You will need a heat source for the animal and a small, contained space. You can use an electric heating pad, a sock filled with rice, or a Snuggle Safe microwaveable heating pad. A sock filled with rice will be your least expensive option, but they don’t stay warm for long. I use a Snuggle Safe microwaveable heating pad because it stays warm for up to eight hours, and I do not have to be worried about electrical issues.

Another important part of kitten rescue is proper nutrition. ‘The younger the kitten, the closer to formula,’ is my motto. Kittens aged 1-3 weeks old should be bottle-fed with formula or kitten meal replacement. Once kittens can walk on their own, you can move them to ‘gruel’ food, which is wet food mixed with formula and water. Once kittens are about 4-5 weeks old, you will want to give them an option between wet and dry food. Kittens should be on a high-calorie meal, so any cat food labeled ‘kitten’ on it will meet these requirements.

For small kittens, litter boxes are also a necessity. A small box works best because they are inexpensive, and can be trashed once dirty! Once kittens are more independent, you can move to regular plastic litter boxes. You will want a litter that does not clump as kittens are adventurous and will eat the litter, which can then clump inside their body and is highly unsafe. The more supplies you have, the better when it comes to litter box training, so I usually make sure I have multiple on hand when I take in a new litter.

Kittens like to be cozy. Make sure to provide them with a lot of warm blankets, towels, and stuffed animals. Make sure that they are never scrunched up or in piles because the kitten could suffocate themselves. For a more in-depth list of kitten supplies and how to be prepared for your first foster baby, Kitten Lady has a great post on her website – http://www.kittenlady.org/supplies. If you have questions or would like more information on foster supplies, like this post, and I will share more!

Do You Want to Volunteer in Animal Rescue?

The world of volunteering in animal rescue is large, and there is always help needed at a shelter; where do you start? Getting started can be intimidating for some, as it was for me, a 22-year-old college student who had never been involved in animal rescue before. I wasn’t sure where to start, who to ask, and where to go! I will explain how I got involved in volunteering and how you can get started as well.

The first step is to find a rescue in your area where you feel you align with their values and their overall atmosphere. A great website to utilize is https://www.adoptapet.com/animal-shelters – enter your location, how far away you are willing to travel, and what type of animals you would like to volunteer with. It will then give you a list of rescues in your area. Then, I would recommend looking into a few different rescues and find out if they have social media platforms. You will want to research each of these animal rescues, as some organizations are solely foster-based and will not have any shelter needs.

Most rescue organizations will have a website where you can find adoptable pets, ways to donate, and volunteer opportunities. Most of the time, you will sign up for an orientation to get started. With COVID, things have changed a lot in rescues, and they are doing forms of online training, one-on-one training, or other methods. Programs will vary based on the organization you choose, so you will have to check in with their volunteering team to move forward.

These cute puppies were just some animals we brought to a local community adoption event!

The Nevada Humane Society has a very user-friendly portal that you will use to sign up to volunteer once you have gone through orientation. You can find all of the volunteer activities in one spot and sign up for a time slot that works best for you. Fun fact: If the rescue you are volunteering for is a 501(C) not-for-profit organization, they will receive grant money based on the number of volunteer hours they receive on an annual basis. Your time volunteered can also equate to more money for the shelters – it’s a double win!

There are so many amazing animal rescues out there, and I am definitely not an expert at all of them. But, I do have methods which may help you look for the best organization which fits your values and skills. Some people will only work with no-kill shelters and some people will volunteer with any organization that needs their help. If you are not sure where to start, please send me an email at kaelinleavitt@gmail.com and I would be more than happy to help guide you in the right direction. If you are a current volunteer, drop a comment down below and let me know which organization you volunteer with!