How I Ended Up Fostering Kittens
As of this week, I am not a cat-mum. But only for a short period of time. I’m fostering four kittens and their mum, for the next few weeks and so far I’m loving it! But how did I end up fostering 5 cats?!
My best friend is the manager of a cat cafe and she messaged me a while back asking me if I could foster a pregnant cat for a few months.
At the time, I was quite busy with the post-publication period of What Planet and going back to work in the office. Also, I had never fostered before and had only cat-sat for a few friends for a max of two weeks. As such, I was hesitant to take on a pregnant cat, particularly as we didn’t know how many kittens she was having and I didn’t have the slightest clue of how to help a cat through labour.
However, a few weeks later I got another message from my friend saying that the cat had had her litter and they still needed someone to foster them.
The cat cafe, although happy to take the little family in a few months, are currently inundated with abandoned and surrendered cats and couldn’t take anymore. It appears a lot of people got cats during lockdown, and with the lockdown lifting, it’s not possible to keep them anymore.
They were in a bind and I admit, I had got attached to the idea of fostering, so finally agreed to take them. But only for a max of three weeks – because after that I have travel commitments and I’m back to the office for 2-3 days a week myself.
Setting up home
Before the kittens were ready to collect I set about getting what I needed. The cafe offered me most things like litter, special cat food and milk, as well as toys, a litter tray and a cat carrier.
In addition, I got a small pen in which to keep the kittens in, to stop them from hiding under my sofa or chewing up any wires in my living room. I also got some Dreamies for Bella, knowing how much my cat loves them, some poop scoops, toothbrushes (to brush the kittens with – they love it!) and a scratching post. All in all, everything I got came to about £40. Not much considering I’ll keep most of it for fostering later down the line.
Meet the kittens
I collected the kittens and their one-year-old mum from the cafe on Sunday, and it’s been a week of new experiences so far.
The mum – originally called Milo but now called Bella – is a black and white cat. Her kittens are a mix: two are black and white and two are pure black.
The kittens are about 3 weeks old, with baby blue eyes and chirpy meows. Their mum is very young and skinny but loves a chin scratch and a fuss. If you’re petting the kittens when she’s in the pen with them, she’ll come over and start rubbing her face on you until you pay her attention instead.
The kittens weren’t named when they came to me and it took a little while to decide. But they are now called: Lars, Sigrit, Mita-Mita and Erick. If you understand where those names come from, then you and I can be friends.
Although we won’t be sure of their genders for a little while, we can alter their names if needs be.
What to expect when fostering kittens
Yes, you have to clean up a lot of poop, wee and general mess. The mum potty-trains the kittens, but it’s not until about 5 weeks that they’ll actually start to copy her and use the litter tray.
A lot of meowing. Not only from the kittens, who mostly meow in the morning after being on their own overnight or when their mum is feeding them but from the adult. Bella was very stressed when she arrived and it took her a good few hours to trust me. It took her two days to leave the pen and let me handle the kittens without watching my every move.
As they wean over the next few weeks, she’ll become less attached to them; and they’ll all start to do their own thing. Although the kittens are only three weeks right now, in the space of a week I can see how much they’ve grown. It won’t be long before they’re escaping the pen and getting under my feet! And I can’t wait.
What happens after fostering kittens?
Just to reassure, my family who were convinced I wouldn’t be able to give these lovely kittens back, I’m only fostering them.
In a few weeks, they’ll go to live with someone else before joining the cat cafe at a couple of months old to see if that lifestyle is for them. If it’s not, then they’ll head off to their forever homes.
At least this way they get lots of love and attention. Plus, they can stay with their mummy for the full 8-12 weeks. Bella is adorable and I think she’s starting to get to the lap-cat stage… that’s my goal for her.
Either way, I’ll keep you up to date with my kitten shenanigans. And I’ll let you know if I’ll keep up this fostering hobby after my travels are done. So far, I’m loving it!
UPDATE: Bella now lives with my family and is thriving, whilst the kittens have gone to live at Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium in London for a few years, and I visit a lot. Sigrit was a boy and is now called Lysander. Erick was a girl and is now called Hero. Lars is a boy – as predicted – and is now called Iago. And Mita-Mita is a girl, and is now called Puck.