Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Cute as a.....
Julia Lewis, DVM
Last week, I took on the joys of fostering a kitten. This was not the usual HSSV kitten that required fostering. Button, as I’ve named him, is a “bottle baby”. He was found as a stray and brought into HSSV by a Good Samaritan. Button was about 2 weeks old and weighed 6oz. I happened to be walking down the hall and heard very loud insistent meows and just had to take a look. What I saw was a grey and black striped bundle of fur loudly protesting about how unfair it was that he was hungry but no one was doing anything about it!
One of the privileges of being a veterinarian at HSSV is that I get first dibs on fostering a too-young kitten. Before I, or Button, knew it, I had a bottle in my hand, a can of KMR (kitten milk replacer) and a screaming kitten in my office. Luckily, Jeanne, our VP of Human Resources was also fostering a bottle baby and I ran to her office to get a bottle of KMR that was already mixed and got to the job of feeding Button. It took a little effort, since Button was so hungry and scared, he didn’t know what the thing being shoved into his mouth was, but he managed to drink a little bit of the formula. We then went through the ritual of stimulating him to eliminate and I put him back into his carrier that I fixed up with clean towels and a fluffy blanket (made available through the generous donations that the public brings to HSSV). He took a short nap and woke up screaming again. Briefly, what flashed through my mind was “What did I take on” and “I should have discussed taking on this responsibility with my husband”. Then, the meows drew me out of my worries and I got down to the task of repeating the earlier ritual.
On the way home, I finally called my husband to inform him that I did a very impetuous thing. This was followed by a dramatic pause to allow my husband to think the worse so that when I sprang on him that I was fostering a kitten, it should be no big deal. It worked! We’ve had Button for almost a week now. I’m a night owl so I stay up until 2am to give Button his bottle. Then my husband, who is an early bird, gets up at 6am to give Button a bottle again. I bring Button to work with me where he gets a bottle whenever he wakes up and feels like eating again. So far, Button has just about doubled in weight. He’s had several baths already to get rid of fleas and clean up, and spends about 5-10 minutes playing and purring on his back after each meal. He also has met lots of the wonderful staff and volunteers at HSSV to get him used to new experiences.
In another week or so, we will start the weaning process. That will be a messy affair as kittens tend to walk in and dunk their faces in the food. Button will also start to learn to use a litter box, and that could be a hit-or-miss affair until he figures things out. I anticipate Button getting many baths a day to keep him clean and fresh. Then once he reaches 2 pounds in weight (wow, that seems like so long in the future!) he will be neutered and then made available for adoption after he recovers. So, in about 6 weeks or so, look for Button on HSSV’s available animals site!
P.S. I just started fostering a new bottle baby to play with Button, and his name is Zipper!