Friday, May 12, 2006
Foster Spotlight on: Mother(s)Mother's Day with the East Bay SPCA Foster Program
This is a special Mother's Day for the East Bay SPCA because we have a record number of 14 mother cats raising litters of kittens! The entire shelter staff joins the foster department in taking this opportunity to honor these mamas and their human caregivers for Mother's Day 2006!
(Pictured: Blythe, named after the Foster Coordinator-- by a foster volunteer, not by me!-- with her 3 lively kittens).
These devoted mama cats all have kittens who are too young to be placed up for adoption, so they are living temporarily in loving foster homes until they're ready for adoption.
Kittens need foster care until they are eight weeks old and weigh two pounds. Two pounds is the minimum weight at which it's safe to alter kittens and we can't place them up for adoption until they've been altered. Kittens lucky enough to have a mother cat benefit from her careful attention-- mama feeds her kittens (while they're still nursing), keeps them clean and teaches them how to use a litter box, how to groom themselves and other important social lessons about being a cat. At first, our devoted human foster parents take care of mom and she takes care of the babies. Her kittens will spend most of their time sleeping curled up with her and nursing from the time they're newborns to 3-4 weeks.
When the kittens are 4 weeks old, mom usually begins the weaning process and the kittens become more active (pictured: one of Donna Lee's 5 kittens illustrating how active he is! See previous blog postings for more about Donna Lee and her babies). By the age of 6 weeks, the kittens will probably be eating wet and dry kitten food on their own like little champions! When the kittens are 8 weeks old and weigh 2 pounds, then kittens and their mamas will return to the East Bay SPCA for their spay/neuter surgery and then they will all be placed up for adoption.
Some kittens who are too young to eat solid food come to us without a mother cat and have to be bottle fed by human surrogate mothers. This is a huge commitment on the part of the foster volunteers since the kittens need to be fed every 2-3 hours. (Yes, even at night!) They are really saving these kittens' lives by giving so much of their love and their time.
We also receive lots of kittens without mothers who are old enough to eat on their own, so their human surrogate mothers and fathers play with them, cuddle them and keep up with their unceasing kitten energy and curiosity. It can be exhausting to try to tire out kittens!
Thank you to all our devoted foster volunteers for being such amazing parents to their foster cats and kittens! Although your foster kitties won't take you out for brunch on Sunday 5/14, make you a thank you card or bring you wrapped gifts, I hope they bring you some extra special joy this weekend.
Happy Mother's Day to all our mother cats and their human moms and dads, as well.