For years I’ve been teased about bringing my work home with me. I’m not talking about the columns written at my kitchen table or the phone calls taken after hours; and my work doesn’t travel in a briefcase. What I usually bring home is a crate (sometimes two) of kittens!
I love fostering kittens and have been doing it consistently for many years. I specialize in bottle babies and often take the most fragile since they often don’t make it and I know how heartbreaking that can be. But in all these years this Thanksgiving was the first time I’ve taken my work on vacation!
I’m currently fostering a single kitten. He actually came in with a brother; both severely undernourished and covered with literally hundreds of fleas; which meant both were anemic. Judging by their teeth, they were about 4 weeks old and should have weighed somewhere around one pound. The bigger of the two weighed only 8.5 ounces and the smaller one was just 6.5 ounces. Not a great start and I knew there was a strong possibility they wouldn’t survive.
We immediately went to work, bathing and combing them to get rid of the fleas; giving fluids; and getting them on a regular feeding schedule. They seemed to rally but only the bigger one suckled well, so it was sad but not a total shock when the smaller one crashed on the third day. The bigger guy, though, got the hang of the bottle and suckled like a champion. I was still a fussy mother and worried, especially when he started having diarrhea.
I had plans for the Thanksgiving weekend to go to my sister’s in LA. She, too, is an animal lover with three dogs and four cats; in addition to a husband and two daughters. Her girls, now 20 and 17 years old, often volunteer in the kitten nursery at their local Best Friends’ Shelter so they were thrilled when I asked if we could bring a special “guest” along with us this year. The girls named the kitten “Sushi,” keeping with their theme of rice names (their last name is Rice) – I think they were hoping that would influence their parents to let them keep him!
Taking him along actually proved easier than I expected. I brought a large cage, all his supplies and a cooler for the formula and food. Feeding on the drive down was managed simply enough by getting a cup of hot water at Starbuck’s to heat up the formula, and by using a microwaveable heating disc, he was toasty warm until we arrived and could plug in the regular heating pad.
I have to say that Sushi was definitely the hit of the weekend and received a lot of socializing out of it. He met the dogs and the other holiday guests and was completely fawned over by the girls. I think I set a new precedent – and can see that although my nieces are always happy to see us, it’s nothing compared to the welcome of an adorable kitten! Not sure how I can top that next year!
“Get Them Back Home” Campaign – Every lost pet should have a way to get back home. FREE pet ID tag and a back-up microchip are available to all residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati. No appointment necessary, just come by the shelter during our regular open hours: Wed. 1-6:30; Thurs.-Fri.-Sat. 1-5:30; Sun. 1-4:30.
Fix-it Clinics – Free spay and neuters for cats; and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 lbs.) for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents. Call 588-3531 for an appointment.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at email@example.com.