If you are reading this and have read my blog, you know that the reason I started volunteering, and ultimately fostering animals, is because I was learning how to cope with survivor’s guilt from the Las Vegas Route 91 Music Festival shooting. On September 27, 2020, my roommate and I picked up more foster kittens in need of care at the shelter. These would be our 21st, 22nd, and 23rd foster animals. You could say that I was on a “high” of having twenty animals survive and leave my home healthy and ready for their forever homes. I was NOT prepared for what was next to come.
On September 27, 2020, we took three, five-week-old kittens home. They were all between 6-12 ounces, Frank being the smallest. For reference, they should be well over 16 ounces (1 pound) at this age. In the first 24 hours, we cared for them around the clock, trying every tactic we knew to keep them alive. On September 28, I lost my first foster kitten. The one little girl, who was about 8 ounces in size, passed away in my hands. Whatever her life before me entailed, it was bad enough for her to leave this world. When kittens come from outside, especially late in the kitten season and colder weather, the odds of survival are a lot lower. I still think about everything I could have done differently, and she may have survived.
Now my effort, as well as my roommates, was completely on these other two kittens and keeping them alive. Unfortunately, five days later, on October 2, another kitten passed away. Being the healthiest of the three from the beginning, I was shocked and heartbroken. He lived his last few days in a warm and loving home, and I am thankful I could give that to him. Dealing with this kind of loss is difficult because even though you have only had these animals for hours or days, they leave such a big impact on you and your heart. As I write this, I tear up thinking about the lives that were lost, and saved, in foster care. The last kitten surviving was little Frank.
Back story: Frank’s name came from Frank Gallagher from the TV show Shameless. I brought Frank to work since he needed food on the hour, and my coworker instantly called him Frank. If you have seen the show, you know Frank is the father who has a drug and alcohol addiction and to be honest, always looks a little rough. And that’s exactly what this little kitten looked like. See for yourself!
Now that Frank was the only kitten I had left, I knew I had to do everything in my power to keep him alive. The vet at the NHS clinic even said that his odds of making it were slim to none. And as I write this blog, he is sitting next to me in his 11 pounds of glory and fluff, knowing we did it. To give an idea of the supportive care that Frank needed to stay alive, I would put him in his carrier and sleep with him on my bed with an ice chest full of formula and food just so he was right next to me to feed every hour and make sure he was still alive.
He slowly grew from 6 ounces to 7 ounces to 8 ounces and so on. Sometimes he regressed, and we upped the supportive care. Then when he was doing a little bit better, I would get a few more minutes of sleep. Needless to say, after three weeks of supportive care, my roommate and myself were exhausted. It was all worth it for Frank to have made it out alive. After he was old enough and in a stable condition, I knew that there was no way I would ever be able to let him go. So that is how I ended up with my first ‘Foster Fail’, Frank.
You know, I never considered myself a cat person. I liked cats, but I always saw myself having dogs. But as soon as Frank pulled through and was a crazy kitten running around my home, I knew he wasn’t going anywhere. Frank is eight months old now, and he is the best furry friend I could ask for, minus the random ankle biting of course.
If you have followed along, you know that the date of the Route 91 Music Festival shooting was October 1, 2017, which means that October 1, 2020, was the third anniversary. The week of the third anniversary was also when I lost two foster kittens. This time of year was already hard for me, and this was the icing on the cake. Maybe Frank was the universe helping me heal, or maybe I just didn’t have the strength to let him go, but I do know that he’s my first fur baby, and I am more than happy I decided to keep him.
Frank is doing great now. He is a large fluff ball who likes to go outside (with his harness and leash, of course), LOVES food, to be held like a baby, to play with the bedsheets when you’re trying to make it, and to steal food off of your plate when you’re not looking. I guess the point of this post is to show you that when bad things happen, good can come out of them. And that animals are the best serotonin boost you can find! Follow along for more content on fostering, the good and bad.