This is from Valerie a foster for OAS: “Last year, I became a cat foster for Oakland Animal Services. The four cats I was asked to foster had been left by a citizen outside the Shelter in a sealed plastic container in the hot summer sun. Luckily, they were found by Shelter staff before they died from heat and suffocation. They were so traumatized when OAS found them that they were in danger of being euthanized if someone wasn’t willing to foster them, until they were socialized and adoptable.
The next day I picked them up the nuclear family of cats – a mom, dad and their two tiny kittens.
The parents were indeed very frightened, but I felt confident that they would relax in a quiet home environment. We kept the family separated from our other cats in their own suite of rooms. I visited them frequently, petting them and talking to them, trying to calm them. Papa cat was the first to relax. He was a beautiful, svelte young grey tabby with enormous sea green eyes. He decided pretty quickly that he liked his new home, and started to seduce my husband and me with his good looks and charming ways. We had recently lost a great male cat, and papa cat, whom we called Griffin, let us know he would fit right in with our family.
Mama cat was more problematic. She was apparently traumatized by her experience in the plastic box, and I suspected she might have been feral. She was a petite little grey and white medium hair with stunning apple jade green eyes, and we called her Amélie.
The kittens were, of course, adorable, and quite lovely, with intense blue eyes; one sister almost white, the other grey. We named them Elsa and Emma after my husband’s nieces.
Griffin came down with a high fever in August. The OAS shelter director thought his symptoms may have been a delayed version of heat stroke from the plastic box trauma. Next Amélie came down with a fever, and then the little grey kitten, Emma, also came down with a fever. Willow, the volunteer “foster coordinator” at OAS and I were transporting cats and medicines back and forth between OAS and our house in north Berkeley for some time before everyone was well.
I hadn’t planned on my foster cats getting sick, but we’d already come to care for them and I didn’t mind the extra work. I’m most proud of little Emma, for hanging in there when she was so sick. I had to dropper feed her and give her two courses of antibiotics before her upper respiratory infection cleared. She started out the runt of the litter, but now she’s surpassed her sister in weight. And she is so loving! Her eyes turned a soft golden green, and both she and her Siamese-looking sister have big fluffy tails.
The kittens were easily tamed, being kittens, but Amélie was another matter. She was terrified of my husband, which hurt his feelings as he loves cats and is always gentle with them. I think Amélie may have been traumatized by her memories of a man putting her and her family into the sealed plastic box.
We still planned to give up Amélie, Emma and Elsa for adoption when they were well. But something happened along the way, and by the time everyone was well we had just grown so attached to the little family we decided in the end to keep all of them!
Something I’ve really enjoyed with this rare cat family is watching the papa interact with the kittens. He’s very sweet and tolerant with them, he licks and plays with them, and sleeps cuddled up with them. I had no idea.
Finally even our feral Amélie has grown tame. Now she lies on my chest and purrs her heart out, and even lets my husband pet her. Griffin decided that the food here was great and has given up his youthful figure for a more filled-out, paterfamilias form. We keep the cats indoors, but one night Griffin sneaked out under my husband’s nose and was out all night, but in the morning he was right by the back door, all big green eyes: All he wanted was to come home to his family. – Valerie
If you’d like to learn about fostering and make a big difference in cat/kitten(s) life like Valerie did, please click here.