Fostering cats can be an extremely rewarding experience, with the sure knowledge that you are making a difference by offering the hope of life to unfortunate cats that would otherwise be euthanized in kill shelters.
Have you ever fostered a pregnant queen? Was it a cat that showed up at your door, or did you work with a cat rescue group? Would you do anything differently the next time around? Share your experiences for the benefit of readers contemplating becoming a cat foster. Note:This form is not for asking questions or replying to another reader. Think of it as your own mini-article on the About.com Cat site.Share your Experiences
- I took in a pregnant stray in August. She just gave birth on the 23rd. To 3 beautiful little kittens :) as soon as I knew for sure she was pregnant, I started her on kitten food. I'd been giving her canned food already since I brought her in. She was really small. She's in great health, and all 3 kittens are doing wonderful :) they're nursing as I'm typing this. :) all 3 have a good, strong meow, move around good, and eat good. My only advice, is canned food, and specified kitten food for the dry variety. Keeps mama and her babies in good shape :)
- —Guest Jan
A Little Angel-Cat
- About a year ago I sadly had to have my beloved little dog put to sleep because of cancer, swore I would not get any more animals because of the heartbreak, however, a little angel cat came into my life, a ball of fluff, snubbed by her feral mother and her brothers and sisters. I spent many hours on the back porch and noticed her watching me. I soon started playing with her and she responded with love. This little cat needed me as much as I needed her. She has since been my constant companion, was lost for two weeks when we moved, but again returned to me pregnant, barely a kitten herself. We now have a family of five, and unlike her mother, she is the most loving mother cat I have ever known. She is indeed an angel. Although she did not have the benefit of learning from her mother, her instincts for the survival of her own kittens has been a joy to my heart. The love she did not get then, is the love she gives freely now, her unconditional love.
CREATING STERILE CONDITIONS:
- My wife and I run “The Cat Farm”, a self-financed (no contributions solicited or accepted!) cat-rescue mission, and we’ve ended up taking in a number of stray or feral pregnant females. After a few sad experiences with losing kittens to FKS we started using Povidone, an iodine-based scrub and wash. It is available under a number of commercial names and you will probably have to special-order it from your pharmacist. This is the same kind of sterilizing scrub that is used in hospital operating rooms. Any time you touch a “suspect” kitty, you should scrub your hands with Povidone before touching any others. It really works…although not 100% of the time (I wish!)…and we have had a higher incidence of survivors since we started using it. This is NOT one of those suspect hand sanitizers! This is the Real Deal. Hope this helps.
- I was presented with a beautiful girl who was pregnant. She had 4 lovely babes and I fell in love with them all. I managed to re-home 2, which was difficult for me as I loved them, but I have kept 2. Mama unfortunately died on Xmas eve 2012 and I don't know why but I thank her for chosing me to look after her and her babies. I can't re-home the 2 remaining babies as they so need each other since mama died and they are best friends, and I LOVE them. Being a stray she obviously had something wrong but it was as if she waited to see that her babies were in good hands before she regretfully let go. She was such a beautiful little girl and I miss her terribly and I thank God each day for allowing me the chance to make a difference in their lives. God speed Sadie, I know you are looking down and watching your babies and I also know you are at The Rainbow Bridge right now with all the other animals and having a wonderful time. LOVE YOU SADIE
- —Guest Liz
some sad stories, some happy ones
- I have been fostering cats and kittens for years. Sometimes the stories are happy, but sometimes not. Just recently, I had six kittens with a feral mother. They were happy and healthy and I managed to tame the kits. Then, one by one, they died. After the third, I took them back to the shelter, but they could not save them either. This is the second litter I have fostered that all died. One day they are bouncy, active, happy kittens, the next day they are vomiting bile, moaning, and unable to drink or eat. So sad. As for slipping unrelated kittens into a litter, we do that all the time at the shelter here and it works great. Mama cats can't count! They treat them all the same as long as they all smell the same! Fostering is very rewarding, even with the sadnesses. As one commenter said, I get to see cats who otherwise would live short, painful lives, learn to love people and get good homes, and then start over with new ones!
- —Guest LAR
Fading Kitten Syndrome
- My daughter rescued a feral kitten in an alley not long ago and it thrived. B-4 it got fixed, it turned up pregnant and last week, she had 3 healthy, chubby kittens. A day later, she noticed the body temp of one kitten was cooler to the touch so she called the vet. He suggested she put a heating pad on low and tuck it under a thick towel to help the kitten stay warm. It seemed to work for a bit, but the kitten began to cry as if in pain. It died in my hand a short time later as I tried to gently comfort it. Last night, the same story. I noticed that kitten #2 separated itself from the other surviving kitten in the late afternoon. When I picked it up, it too, was cooler to the touch, but wasn't crying. Not knowing what to do, I left it with its mom and begam to monitor it closely. It began crying about bedtime, as if in a lot of pain. Last last night, it too died. My daughter is devastated. There is one left who seems strong. How can we insure it stays this way. Any advice?
- —Guest Freckles
New Fosterer Here
- I just started fostering for the first time, last night. I brought home, from the no-kill shelter, a momma kitty, with five of her own young, and four surrogates that she seemed okay with nursing at the shelter. My biggest fear is that the kittens who aren't hers will receive less sufficient care...though when I arrange regular feeding, she doesn't seem to mind the kitten swap...I allow her to nurse her five and then swap them out for the other four. She's not keen on the kittens being in the bathtub (with heating pad and thermometer to ensure their body temps stay constant), but when she tried to move them under the bathroom sink, she couldn't open the cabinet door AND hold the kitten, so she put it back. My other concern is that the kittens that aren't hers are also a few days younger, and therefore probably didn't get the benefits of colostrum with their initial nursing. Time will tell...this is definitely an adventure!
- —Guest Nikki
- A month or two ago i saw a calico cat on our farm. I started to feed her and noticed that she looked like she had had kittens recently. She was very skinny and scared. After a while i found 3 little kittens in a old hollowed out tree. After they grew a little i found their dad that i still haven't been able to catch yet. I sent all the kittens to my brothers but 1, the littlest one. Now named Lilly.( Still unsure about her/ his sex). Now the kitten is healthy and strong. I have not caught her/ his Dad yet but i think i will soon. Now they all have a happy family.
- —Guest EKJ
Hey There, Delilah
- Last year, my friend's cat had kittens. I immediately said I would take one. I lived half a state away, but when it came time (when his father threatened to drown the two remaining), my sister went to get Delilah, and left as well with her ginger brother, Franky. They are both beautiful cats, but Delilah got pregnant (we suspect to two or three different cats, as one of the kittens looks like our feral, Neville Longbottom, and she already carries the ginger gene, so we'll never know). The four kittens that were born are a source of joy - Sebastian, Sunday, Matilda and the previously-named Susan Sto Helit, who happens not to be a girl, so I think we will call him either Greebo, Death or Tomjon. Terry Pratchett reference, of course. When I move, I plan to ask the protection society in Sydney if they have any pregnant queens that need care, or any black kittens that need a home (sadly, black cats are rarely ever adopted).
- —Guest KittyLovett
Just a little heat . . .
- Dear Prudence, a pregnant stray torti I brought home from a construction site; was set her up in a nice room of her own to give birth to and raise her kittens, but she would still try to dash out to attack our other two cats, Rosie and Charley. To avoid this chase-and-hiss drama, I put a baby gate in front of the door, so when I opened it I would at least have a chance of getting in and shutting the door before she got out. Eventually, when her kittens were old enough, we introduced them to the other cats (with mom still in her room). Aunt Rosie and Uncle Charley took to the kittens, grooming them and playing with them. Pru got used to their smell on her kittens, but still intimidated the other cats whenever she had the chance. About 7 weeks after giving birth, she came into heat and started “putting the moves” on sweet, neutered Charley, complete with butt-lifting, purring, and chirping while creeping close to him. He didn’t know what to think! Pru was spayed right after her estrus cycle.
Blessings and Sorrows
- After fostering for a local shelter for almost ten years, I've gone through more births then I can count. It is so much fun when everything goes right, watching kits open their eyes and take their first steps, but so many things can - and do - go wrong. It pains me to see people wanting to breed their cats (who are often still kittens) to "have the experience" not realizing that many cats do not live through it. I've been fortunate that none of my mother cats have lost the battle of birthing babies, but too many kits have passed because they did not have a proper start to life. People balk at me when I suggest spaying a newly pregnant cat, but I've seen too many little lives come into this world and not make it, and mothers drain their few reserves trying to nourish their litter to not suggest it. When I tell people I foster, they all exclaim they could never do it, that they wouldn't be able to give them up, but in giving them up, I get new kittens and get to do it all again.
- —Guest Foster home
Convenience store cat
- About five years ago my neighbor (who kept telling me I should not take on any more cats) arrived at my door with a very pregnant, very scrawny little tabby. She was a sweet cat and I was happy to feed her and give her a warm bed. The very next day she delivered four tiny "white" kittens. One was still born and two died within a couple of days. The mama cat took very good care of the remaining kitten. When the kitten was old enough, I had the mother spayed. Soon after, she wandered off. I got a call from someone a couple of miles away that they had found her (she had a collar and tag), so I went and retrieved her. She left again in a couple of weeks, never to be heard from again. The kitten, who looks, and acts, like a Siamese is now a beautiful cat sitting on the desk watching me type this.
- —Guest LalahCatlady
Rescued feral moms
- I have been involved in cat rescue for aprox. 20 years now. Most of the cats I rescue have to be trapped either because they are feral or scared strays. It seems that each year there are more abandoned. This past summer was my first experience with birthing. The first was a young 1st time mom who gave birth to 3 kits 48 hrs after catching her. Mom was sociable and everything went well. I found a home for her and all 3 kits. The 2nd was a semi-feral who gave birth to 6 kits - 1 week after catching her. All 6 survived and found homes. She was spayed and returned to her caretaker. The 3rd was also semi-feral from the same area - a little more trouble with her. She birthed 2 weeks after being caught. Lots of trouble. She 3 kits in her litter box instead of the birthing box. I found them in time and had to tie-off and cut the umbilical cords. 5 kits the 1st day then a 6th still born the day after. I had to place them all in foster care and only 2 of the kits survived - very sad.
- —Guest Julie
Mysteriously she arrived!
- I had left a pet carrier outside our door & as the nights grew colder, I noticed a huge pair of eyes looking out at me from the back of it..so in the dark of this nightime, I got a torch and took a look...it was a young black and white young cat. I thought maybe she was put out at night by her owners so didn't start to feed her, but left the carrier there. Every night I would look in it and there she was, but every day it was empty. So it was that one really frosty winters night about a month later, I decided to take a better look at her, and as I tried to coax her out with a little cat food, she enthusiastically came towards me and ate like a starving cat. She was pregnant and quickly adopted us! She had 5 beautiful kittens, who we kept. I had to hand rear them as after only 3 weeks she had to have a serious operation. But she lived :) Now she is my best friend- she never leaves my side, even when I cross from one side of the room to the other, so does she. Truly loyal, dear 'Mystery
- I have fostered several queens but I will share the story of Beauty. She was a neighbor's cat and they did not properly care for her, feeding her scraps and dog food and not vetting her at all. She kept getting pregnant, over and over, and she would bring her kittens to my porch. I fed them all, played with them to socialize them and when they were old enough, I took them to a local pet shop to be sold. Finally, my husband and I got sick of this- Beauty was weak and tired, could not handle so many litters one right after another. We made the decision to kit-nap her and have her spayed after the current litter was born. We kept her for 2-3 months and after she was fixed, we let her back outside to reunite with her owner. They thought she was lost and were surprised when she showed up again. A few years later, we found her dead inside our garage, during the winter. She was thin so we think her owners weren't feeding her. I feel guilty to this day for not keeping her myself.
- —Guest Shawna718