Kids & Pets
February 22, 2019
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Taking work on vacation

By: Mickey Zeldes
November 30, 2018

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! 

Upcoming Events:

“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