|Browncoat Cat Rescue||
If you've adopted (or considered adopting) from BCR, you know that a home visit comes with the territory. One of the things we look for are houseplants, and how toxic they may be.
Here's a short list of common plants we find inhabiting houses near us.
A great plant to have in the house in the event of sunburn, Aloe is a reasonably pet safe plant. The gel doesn't hurt cats, but the "sap" (which is white, instead of greenish or clear) can cause vomiting and diarrhea. I had a pair of foster kittens eat a 5 year old Aloe plant to the dirt with no ill effects. So, be aware, but don't worry ~too~ much about having this plant in your house.
We run into a ton of Jade plants. They live forever, are hard to kill, and don't require a lot of upkeep.
Jade plants are toxic for cats, and can cause vomiting and heart issues. If left untreated, ingesting Jade plants can be fatal to cats.
However, they have a waxy and bitter leaf, and most cats are smart enough to leave them alone.
Kittens who have yet to receive their brains in the mail shouldn't be left alone with a Jade plant.
Declare war on the Peace Lily, and chuck it.
The Peace Lily, or Peace Plant, is very toxic to cats.
Immediately after ingesting the leaves of the lily, you can see drooling, foaming at the mouth, and vomiting. Your cats lips and throat can also swell, impeding swallowing and breathing.
This can abate, or it can result in death.
No lilies are really safe for cats, and Easter, Day, Asiatic and Tiger lilies can cause fatal kidney failure in cats.
There may be a reason we link lilies with funerals...
While Ivy is another easy low maintenance plant, it is also toxic to cats.
The leaves are more toxic than the berries, and if your cats chews in it, expect vomiting, abdominal pain, (can be identified by crying and/or hunching walk) diarrhea, and excessive drooling.
Buy a strand of the fake stuff at JoAnn's, and save everyone some stress.
These plants don't require a lot of water, and they won't kill your cats. Awesome.
Also known as Lucky Bamboo, this is a gigantic grass that is completely safe for pets.
Its the plant that everyone knows is bad for pets!
...Poinsettias can cause vomiting and diarrhea in cats, but they are only mildly toxic, and after your cat performs its own system cleanse, they'll be fine. Sometimes they don't have any signs at all!
These Palms are non-toxic to cats! Hooray!
Most palms are reasonably safe for cats, although chewing on their tough leaves can cause stomach irritation that results in vomiting, even without any toxicity.
If you're looking to buy a palm to make a miniature jungle for your miniature panther, when in doubt, google it out!
This is a non-toxic plant, but your cat will probably want to murder it!
One: It has so many little dangly bits. Those spider plant babies are just asking to be torn off and batted around.
Two: Some studies show that spider plants might help your cat mellow/tweak out, just like with catnip.
Be prepared for drooling, swelling of the mouth, and vomiting.
Rarely fatal, but certainly misery inducing.
If you are fighting the depression that comes from too much darkness, and not enough cat, Boston Ferns are the way to go. They do well in dark spaces, and are non-toxic to cats!
Another easy keeper that won't hurt your cats.
Did you get your Orchid at Wegmans? Odds are it's a Phalaenopsis Orchid, and thus safe for your cats!
Most orchids are considered safe for cats, but if you are a creative sort, with rare flowers, double check before putting them in the same windowsill as your feline friend.
That sums it up for now! As we wander about and meet more exciting plant species, we'll add to our list. But this is a pretty basic catch-all for what we tend to run into.
What happens when BCR gets the call that there are crew members out there in need of rescue?
While the details may vary based on individual cats' needs, our routine tends to stick to these basics. Peek inside the magical world of cat intake! We're using the kittens we rescued from dumpster life as our example here.
One of our foster moms let us know that there was a mom and her five kittens living under a dumpster. Mom would range around, and scrounge in the dumpster, and the babies mostly hid underneath it. That's no way for kittens to grow up!
You can't rescue cats if you can't get them! These babies are about 6 weeks old, but they are already very wary of humans. They would dart back under the dumpster at the slightest provocation. And while we were trying to trap, there were cars and trucks going by, people slamming doors, and trash being chucked in above their heads. As we caught the kittens, we put them in a carrier behind the trap, to encourage the remaining members of the litter to enter the trap as well. Three and half hours later, we had the whole litter! (And an hour after that, we got mama as well.)
Once we have our newest crew members, we snap a quick photo, so we can fondly remember how weird they once were. Aww. Then, we're off to the vet, to make sure that none of our new babies have Feline Leukemia, or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. (FeLV/FIV) While FIV is manageable, FeLV is highly contagious, and bars these kittens from being fostered with other cats. Luckily, everyone tested negative! These kittens all have flea anemia; the blood drawn for their tests was watery and pale. We'll help them strengthen up with an iron supplement. They also get an intake exam to listen to their hearts, and make sure there isn't anything glaringly wrong with them. (So far, so good!)
Once we know they aren't carrying FeLV, all new crew members come to BCR headquarters for their official intake.
First, we deal with the most pressing need...NO MORE FLEAS.
The kittens are given a portion of a CapStar right off the bat. That is a small pill that kills fleas within 30 minute. It's amazing! Because they were living under a dumpster, and infested with fleas, these kittens were in desperate need of a bath. Most of our kittens get their introduction to civilization with a nice warm bath. 4/5 kittens found bathtime calming. ...Eventually...
After everyone is dry and cozy, we continue the war on parasites. These kittens had fleas, ear mites, and big roundworm bellies. Because they are only 6 weeks old, we don't want to overwhelm their tiny systems, so we do smaller doses of everything. They get single drop of Revolution each. Revolution kills fleas, and ear mites. Since fleas in this area haven't build up a resistance to it, it actually works! We kind of adore it. Which is a weird thing to say about poison...
Because of their age, and the mild amount of ear mites they have, we decided against yet another treatment. In two weeks, they will be treated for ear mites with Ivermectin. With the exception of one kitten, everyone has clear eyes and noses! Because they were being fed by staff members, and their mama was taking good care of them, these kittens have nice strong immune systems. Many kittens born outdoors or in neglectful situations have upper respiratory infections. If these kittens were goopy of eye and nose, we would give them a couple of days on Lysine and colloidal silver, to see if that gave their immune systems the boost they needed...and if not, we would utilize antibiotics. Luckily, these kittens are gorgeous!
Once the basic "get you clean and not sharing your friends" parts of intake are taken care of, the kittens are entered into our intake sheet. We record where they were found, any health issues they might have, and what treatments they received when.
We'll continue to support their health with nutritious food, regular de-wormings, and lots and lots of love!
Now all we have to do is figure out what their names are going to be...
Whoo boy. BCR's Captain has had quite the week...month...fuzzy timeline. We are currently on round three of kittens for this kitten season, and have run into some really lousy situations.
There are two ways we can look at this...examples below.
(1) Why did I take in a pregnant cat!? I don't have space for more mystery butts! Mama is kind of weird too...am I going to have to bring her back to her barn, or will she warm up enough to humankind to be adopted? Oh look, she shat in her birthing box. Twice.
(2) I don't even know where that town is!/Over 1,000 miles on my car in one week!? With a teething toddler...what's wrong with my brain?
(3) I only budgeted for 30 feral cats being TNR'd this year, where the hell am I going to get more money for an additional 30?
(4) Death death misery and despair...
(5) Another project? Really? What hours in the day can we use for this, oh fearless leader...
(1) This is the last cat from a barn with 15. After she has these babies, the population there is completely done. And since her last litter was so very ill, its fantastic that these kittens will be born inside, where we can monitor their health from day one. Mama was pretty wild on the farm, and it might just be the hormones talking, but she's got a really sweet disposition. We can make this work.
(2) Word of Browncoat Cat Rescue is spreading further and further...that's more lives we can save! /Wow, productivity! Getting home visits, foster parent support, and feral cat networking taken care of! Now that our summer of rain is done with, its beautiful driving weather. Good thing my kiddo likes meeting new people, cats, and dogs...
(3) Can I really complain that people want to improve the quality of feral cats' lives? Hell no! If they are willing to take that first step, I can scrounge up the funds to make it happen.
(4) While it is devastating losing cats and kittens that we've fought to save, at least their final moments were warm, and loved. We do what we can.
(5) No really, this is a good thing. There will be six months of chaos and stress, and then five plus years of awesomeness. You live in a beautiful and caring community; this is going to be great.
This post is a bit of a rambler...bear with me!
I've been thinking a lot about age lately. About the stages of life that we go through.
Kitten, cat, senior; Maiden, Matron, Crone.
I started bringing home unwanted kittens around the age of four or so.
While volunteering at the local animal shelter in college, the older women would ask me why I wasn't spending my time and money on underwear, nails, and partying. (I never understood why they bemoaned the lack of help and awareness in from "the youth" but kept up a steady stream of encouragement for me to be more shallow and self centered.)
I have dedicated the last 17 years of my life to bettering the lives of feral and unwanted cats; those who slip through the cracks unnoticed and unloved. That's an entire life stage!
The vast majority of the women who do what I do (and the few men that I've met) are all over 60. They are officially crone aged, fitting into the crazy cat folk box quite neatly.
Often people are surprised when they meet me, that I am rather young to have done as much as I have. They expect the silver hair to reflect the decades of dedication.
My maiden stage is behind me, though the wind still tangles my hair.
I have played mother to so many over the years, and have embraced the matron part of my life with open arms!
My daughter is my world, and luckily, she adores cats as well.
But this year, I have realized why we expect crones to do the cat rescue parts of life.
I drive hundreds of miles a week to dispense food to those that need it, to trap cats and improve their quality of life. I do home visits, and behavioral consults. I drive down lonely stretches of highway, looking for that cat you saw out of the corner of your eye. And now, I do all that with a toddler. The only reason I can write this blog right now, is because she's asleep! Beating the laptop with a stick is something that kittens can't do.
Feral kittens take lots of love and time, to learn to trust in people.
Toddlers take time, cover it in peanut butter, crumple it up, put it in their mouths, and then ask you to eat it too.
Crones can have grandbabies, and neighbor's children, but they don't have the constant companionship of their own wee one. They can teach and embrace the younger generations, but at the end of the day, (or the hour) their time is exclusively theirs again.
Such is not the case with motherhood. This has been a bit of a rescue learning curve year!
I've learned that I need more maidens, matrons, and crones to be part of the BCR family and foster, adopt, and spread the good word. Cat rescue has never been something I've done alone, and now more than ever, I need to find those wonderful members of our community who want to help! Matrons are there to nurture their communities, whether there be blood ties or not.
And I love my community! The people I interact with are all striving to make the world a little bit better, in a variety of ways.
Whether you are a student looking to volunteer at adoption events, a mother of three who wants to help fundraise with a bake sale, or an amazing retired opera singer who wants to foster a litter of grody barn kittens until they can find their forever homes, the BCR crew needs you!
Here at BCR, we get a lot of emails asking for advice. And a very common thread is cats and pregnancy. There's a lot of fear mongering out there, about the affects of toxoplasmosis on an unborn baby. While I will never EVER tell anyone not to worry about the health of their child, I can tell you that you can have a cat (or 6) and still have a happy and healthy pregnancy, without the heartbreak of losing a family member.
Let's break it down!
How do pregnant women get toxoplasmosis from cats?
Answer: By eating poop. Seriously. You have to get particles of feces in your mouth to contract toxoplasmosis. Most people I know are cautious enough while scooping the litter box on a regular day, that they aren't flinging poop into their mouths, or eating a sandwich directly after.
The first trimester of my pregnancy, I wore a bandana over my face while scooping to ensure that I wouldn't accidentally ingest the smallest dust particle with a toxic dingleberry clinger.
Because pregnancy brings a little bit of paranoia! Small amounts are healthy right?
During my second and third trimesters, my partner scooped for me.
There were are few factors that decided this.
1: I was getting more and more full of baby. Bending was less and less fun.
2: Some studies have found that your likelihood of contracting toxoplasmosis increases as your pregnancy progresses.
3: Why the heck wouldn't I use the perfect excuse to not scoop poop!?
Let's say that you are a single mom, or your significant other is being a significant jerk about scooping poop for your majestically awesome life creating self.
What can you do?
1: Keep your cat inside. Cats get toxo from rodents. If your cat isn't hunting and eating mice, you have nothing to worry about.
2: Scoop the box every day.
As someone with multiple cats, scooping the box on a weekly schedule, rather than a daily one is a foreign concept to me. However, I know that with only one butt, the litter box can be ignored a little bit longer. Don't do it! The oocysts that cause toxo need 3 days to sporulate. If you scoop the litter boxes every day, or even promptly after a poop, the life cycle is broken, and there is nothing for you to catch.
3: Cover your mouth and hands while scooping the box.
You can use a bandana, or a dust filtering mask. You can use disposable latex gloves, or shmexy purple dishwashing gloves that make you feel like a 50's housewife. If your hands and face don't come into any contact with poop, you're safe. Also, wash your hands. Its just good manners.
4: Bathe/wipe your cat.
Those adorable little bean feet walk in the litter box. You can always wipe down their feet, or go full on spa day, to really feel safe! Granted, unless your cat is leaving chocolate footprints on your pillow, this might be more than you need to do.
There is a blood test that your vet can do to see if your cat is carrying toxoplasmosis. Its in the ballpark of $40. Instant peace of mind!
Moral of the story?
30 years ago, we didn't know what we do now.
Some doctors are giving very outdated advice: Cat, or baby.
This is ...poop.
BCR's Captain had 12-18 cats and kittens running amuck during her pregnancy, and used common sense, and basic hygiene. All was well with the world.
Don't let anyone bully you into breaking up your family.
Do you really want the first thing you do for your baby to be an act of cruelty?
Or do you want to welcome them into a world filled with love and purrs?
What sort of cat rescue blog would this be, without a blog post about the benefits of the indoor cat lifestyle? Here we go!
Browncoat does cat rescue.
That means we take cats from unsafe environments, and move them to a safe and loving environment where all their needs can be met...sometimes for the first time in their lives.
Why should their forever home be less safe? It shouldn't!
Cats are not safe outside.
The main cause of death in the US for cats is euthanasia for abandoned/stray/unwanted cats.
*cough cough people cough*
After that, the highest cause of death is being hit by a car/trauma, followed by Feline Leukemia.
The world is full of natural dangers, such as hawks, coyotes, and other cats and wildlife that carry disease. If your cat stays indoors, they aren't going to get infected wounds, blood borne illnesses, and a high parasite load. They also won't get hit by a car, or poisoned, shot, hung, or lit on fire by your crackpot neighbor.
My friend's neighbor had a massive orange cat who she would let out when she went to work, and let back in when she got home. He vanished for three days, and came home on three legs.
Evidently he had been staking out a birdfeeder a few blocks over, and the birder decided to set a beaver trap under the feeder. That cat was in agony for days, crying for help, until he took matters into his own paws. This was a nice neighborhood, that happened to have someone that prioritized watching songbirds over the life of someone else's family member. Many people see cats as less deserving of basic kindness because... they aren't dogs? After nearly two decades of cat rescue, I could probably talk for an entire twenty-four hour day about the pain and cruelty I've encountered. So much of it can be averted by keeping your cat inside, where you are their world.
Being inside keeps them safe from the dangers of the outside world, and also keeps the local wildlife safe from your cat! Cats are not indigenous to the US; we brought them here. We are responsible for them being here, and so are responsible for their actions. It's much better to have their actions be cuddling in your lap and killing the stick toy, rather than overpopulating the neighborhood, and messing with the native fauna.
Speaking of the native fauna...Who doesn't love a litter box?
I know it might seem like a dream to not have to scoop a litter box...but poop is important! Knowing what is going in and out of your cat tells you a ton about their overall health, even if it seems like poo drudgery. Cats that live inside are also less likely to have disgustingly high worm loads from eating rodents...and their chances of eating a poisoned rodent in someone else's yard and coming home to die drop to nil! If you have a male cat, it is especially important to monitor their lower urinary tract function, since they are more prone to getting blockages. If you can see a change in your cats bathroom habits, because of that wonderful litter box, you can avert spending ALL of your money at the vet to get your beloved boy back on track.
One of my favorite things about cats is the entertainment value! We play fetch, we play tag, they tackle their toys and each other...
There are trillions of things you can do to keep your cat from getting bored!
Having skitter toys, cat trees of various heights and window perches are great ways for your cat to stay entertained when you aren't home. There are motion activated toys, food dispensing toys,and toys that light up and squeak. There's even cat TV! When you are home, you can play games with toys on sticks, with treats, (I like playing hide the treat, to make my cats "hunt" their own food) and with boxes. Nothing is cheaper and easier than a cardboard box castle or maze. Keep it for as long as your cat is interested in it, and then recycle! Cats love stability, but changing up their playspace keeps them from getting too bored and sedentary. (As a shameless adoption plug, two cats are often much happier and entertained than solo cats. Just putting it out there.) You can even teach your cat some basic tricks, and try for internet fame.
What if your cat ~really~ wants to go outside?
There are options that are safer than free ranging.
Harnesses come in a variety of styles, and colors! I like the mesh "puppy" harnesses for kittens, since they are longer, wider, and much harder to sneak elbows out of. Premier also makes the "Come with Me Kitty" harness, which adjusts really nicely to your cats body shape.
Start training indoors, with short and treat filled moments with the harness.
When going outdoors, always pick your cat up and take them out with you...that becomes part of the going outside routine, and makes your cat less likely to develop dangerous door darting behavior. Some cats love the harness, others despise it. Keep all your harness sessions positive, and see if its a good fit for your cat. If the harness doesn't work for you, they do make cat strollers!
My Etta girl is harness trained, and we incorporated a safe word into our walks. Walking in the fields and the woods was safe, we were alone, and could enjoy scoping out the birds and chipmunks together without worry. When we were in town, there was always the potential for a stoopid dog with an oblivious human. So Etta learned the phrase "up up." When she heard that, she would leap from the ground, to the soft sided carrier I was carrying, safe out of harms way. We instigated the safe word after I went to scoop her up to get her away from an unwanted situation, and she vented her feelings on my arm. Understandable, but not enjoyable. With the harness and the carrier, we were unstoppable! Bringing a carrier along for town walks also gave her a safe place to recharge if she got overwhelmed. I'm a big fan of harness training cats, if they have the inclination for it!
Create a safe and contained outdoor space for your cat! BCR has a massive dog kennel outside a window. The cats can go in and out as they please, and the kennel has a roof to keep them in and the sun and rain out. There are a variety of shelves, and milkcrates for climbing and relaxing on.
Winter and Wullie (pictured in both catios, a year apart) also access their catio through a cat door in their family's window. This way they can go in and out as they please. However, if you don't have the ability to do so, you can always create a catio near the house, and walk your cat out there yourself. There is also a mesh tunnel that you can mount to your house! The internet is chock full of amazing things. You know your feline family best, and can figure out what's going to work for you!
Cat proof fencing
There are a few different websites out there selling cat proof fencing. While I know some wonderful women who have fenced in their yards for their cats, we have a pair of red tailed hawks that live nearby, so this wouldn't be the best fit for BCR headquarters. The premise is simple. If you have an existing fence, you add the cat proofing to the top of it, and keep them in. This way, your cat can free roam in your yard, and ~only~ your yard. Other cats can't get in, your cat can't get into fights, or get killed in the road.
The moral of the story?
Keep your cat safe. If you want to create a jungle for your tiny tiger, do it! There are so many options, and all of them are fun! You may find yourself feeling even closer to your cat, since you'll have more time to bond, and less time to worry. Its a win win.
Your responsibility as a pet parent is to be the best person you can be, so your cat can live the best life they can. They were once worshipped as gods. They deserve it.
The number of cats killed on the roads in the US every year is an approximation of 5.4 million!!!!
There is nothing more devastating than an avoidable death. We can't control everything we might want about our cats, like where they throw up, and what interesting little quirks their livers might decide to develop, but we can keep them safe, and entertained, and completely and utterly adored!
I grew up very familiar with the mantra "hardship builds character."
And I firmly believe that to be true.
The more you experience life, the more likely you are to accumulate some bumps and bruises, and to learn about how to navigate through unfamiliar waters.
If you are never challenged, you never need to strive to do better.
If you never fail, how can you know the glow of success?
My life is not convenient. My beloved companion's life is not convenient. (In large part, due to me.)
Our morning and evening (and afternoon) routines revolve around creatures other than ourselves.
There are days where we wouldn't mind a little less on our collective plates.
But at what cost comes easy living?
I won't get into the damage we are doing to our planet to maintain our Walmart prices and our dollar menus. It isn't that sort of blog.
I'm talking about the cost to one's soul; to our communal well being.
How do people walk by the dog cowering in the alley? The kitten huddled at the side of the road?
I've had people contact me about cats and kittens they could have easily gotten to safety themselves, but it wasn't convenient at the time. (And by the time I show up, they aren't always there.)
I cannot imagine a life that isn't devoted to making the world a better place.
Every day, I strive to make my little corner a little kinder, a little brighter, and a little less full of testicles.
It isn't that hard.
Just be kind.
Your life isn't supposed to be easy.
Having two, three or more feline friends all getting along and providing calendar worthy adorableness is a great goal to have. However, sometimes adding a new "friend" doesn't go as smoothly as we would like!
Here are some helpful hints to ensure smooth sailing in a multi-cat household.
Slow is best.
I know you want everyone to be the best of friends, but believe me; slow is best.
Gradual introductions give everyone the chance to get to know each other, at their own pace. By paying attention to your cats' verbal cues and body language, you can best judge how they are feeling, and how to proceed.
Cat A is the original cat. A for awesome.
Cat B is the newcomer. B for Barbarian invader.
Put cat B in their own room to start. This can be a guest room, a bathroom, or a family member's room that cat A isn't possessive of. This lets them get used to being in a new place one room at a time, and it also lets the cats interact under the door.
Watch how cat A approaches the door. Is it a slink? A stalk? A saunter? This can tell you if cat A is feeling scared, confrontational, or confident. Growling indicates a readiness to rumble. Hissing is a sign of fear. Meowing is generally interest, but can also be distress. As your cat's person, you should be able to discern the difference. Large dilated pupils, and pinned back ears show that your cat is not ready to meet cat B. Forward and alert whiskers are generally a sign of interest, and bode well for future interactions.
Let cat A and cat B interact under the door for the first day.
Keep letting the cats interact under the door.
You can also shut cat A in a different room, and allow cat B to explore the house. This lets cat B know more about their new and exciting forever home, and also allows the cats to cross scent trails with each other without a direct face to face interaction. Because slow is best!
While making dinner, or playing board games, or watching TV...some regular family activity, bring cat B out in a carrier, and set them in the room the family time is happening in. This brings them into the house with the family, and allows cat A to interact with them in a safe way. Cat B should feel reasonably safe in the small enclosed space the carrier provides. Cat A has all the power in this interaction. Cat A can approach as quickly or as hesitantly as they want to. They can go back and forth, without being pursued. And, if their kitty panties are in a bunch about having a new cat in the house, they cannot start a fight with a cat that is safe in a carrier.
Based on how the cats are acting with the carrier barrier, you can get an idea on how long it will be before they can have barrier free interactions.
When both cat A and cat B are ready for bed, you can take a sock or t-shirt that smells like their person, and rub it on the other cat. This way cat A smells the comfort of their person along with the scent of the new cat, and vice versa for cat B.
Some cats are ready to make friends in a few days.
Let's say your cats are taking a bit longer. (And that's ok, because slow is best.)
I'm a big fan of the use of baby gates. Its a barrier, but its see through. Invest in a tension rod, ($4) and make it so that there is a curtain/blanket over the top of the baby gate. Because we all know that your standard cat can leap a three foot gate without any issue. Use the top of the baby gate to secure the bottom of the curtain, and the tension rod to hold the top, at least 4 more feet up. If your cat has a favorite treat, or wet food flavor, give both cat A and B that special snack at the same time, on their respective sides of the gate. Make sure to leave a few feet between them, so they don't feel the need to protect this precious resource, but you want them to be able to see each other, to associate this yummy ritual with the other cat. Tell them how wonderful they are. Positive associations are great!
Let's say that cat A is a 6 year old, and cat B is 12 weeks old. Your introduction took a whole 4 days, because cat A has lived with other cats before, and kittens aren't a territorial threat. However, after a while, cat A loses some patience with cat B and gets a little snippy.
Adding vertical space, and additional hiding spaces can really help! Even if you just bring home a couple of cardboard boxes from the store, and put them in different rooms. Feel free to get as creative as you want!
The longest is has ever taken BCR's Captain to introduce an adult cat to a household full of cats and kittens was one month. And she took much less time to adjust to the cats in her forever home when she was adopted. It might take a bit more time than you planned, or you might be pleasantly surprised at how smoothly everything comes together.
Either way, take it slow, and shower everyone involved with love, and life will be good!
Once upon a time there was a kind hearted couple, named Stephanie and Adam.
They moved into their house, and saw an outdoor cat.
Being responsible and loving cat parents, they assumed it was an owned and cared for cat.
They were wrong.
Ladybird was once someone's cat, but lived rough outside for at least 8 months...quite the accomplishment when you consider that she is just a year old!
Stephanie contacted BCR when she found out that Ladybird was a sweet un-owned cat, who also was acting an awful lot like a cat in heat. BCR took her in, but then quickly discovered that Ladybird was in fact a lactating mama.
There were babies out there!
How cool is this!
Every 10 minutes the GPS pings out her current location.
I was geeking out!
The Paw Tracker even tells you when the tracker is stationary, which is exactly what we needed to know... nursing kittens isn't really an on the go activity!
Also, her territory looks quite a bit like a cat's head to me.
Foster Initial Care Tips
**De-stress the cat or kitten**
*Place the cat/kitten in a warm, dark, and quiet room. This will be "his/her room" for the duration of their stay with you. If your kitten has a crate, feel free to put a sheet or towel over it for the first few days. This allows them to feel more secure.
*Give the kitten time to adjust. This may take ten minutes or a full week, depending on the animal's age and history.
*Monitor for signs of illness and correct any health problems that create added stress (upper respiratory infections, worms, fleas, etc.) Kittens will be wormed and given flea prevention before entering a foster home.
*Whenever possible, place cats/kittens together with known siblings or "friends" from the same site.
*Create consistent, positive associations with you as the caretaker
*Keep up quiet, gentle kitty-talk while you are working with the new kitten.
*Feed on a regular schedule (2-3 times per day), and remain in the room, as close as possible to the cat/kitten while she eats.
*Gradually introduce touching, at first quickly and lightly, then increasing in duration and pressure until you can pet all over the kitten. If your kitten will not let you use a hand, try touching them first with a feather or a toy lightly until they settle. Once they seem comfortable with it, gradually replace it with your hand until they are comfortable with that.
*Gradually introduce play, reinforcing appropriate play behaviors and always keeping in control of the play situation. Always use a toy to play with the kitten, rather than your hand. You want to discourage kittens from scratching and biting your hands, even during play.
*After the kitten is comfortable being petted and played with, you can begin to pick her up, always supporting her with both hands. If the cat still seems to be uncomfortable, try making sure that all 4 of its paws have some surface supporting them (i.e. your hands, arms, or chest). Pick a time when she is relaxed, like after an exhausting play period or around naptime. Holding two kittens at one time who are used to each other can make them feel less stressed, not separated from the group.
*Practice gently touching the paws, ears, tail, and belly. This will make future trips to the vet less stressful.
*Always stop any play or petting just as you notice the kitten acting stressed and end with praise! (signs of stress include dilated pupils, hissing, seeking a hiding spot, or swatting away attention)
*Remember that your goal is to socialize kittens to people, not necessarily to each other.
After the cat is completely at ease being handled, played with, and cared for by you, gradually introduce the stresses of everyday life, providing hiding outlets for stress/fear reactions.
*Introduce typical house cleaning movements one at a time, stopping between motions to praise and pet the cat/kitten. (Oh how much fun we are having with the vacuum cleaner right now!)
*Gradually introduce new people; at first only passive, quiet presence. Allow the kitten to approach the stranger in her own time, and make sure the stranger pets gently and speaks quietly for reinforcement.
Once the cat/kitten is confident approaching strangers, you may introduce more abrupt or aggressive "pet the kitty" types.
Since these kittens are coming from an unsocialized environment, they should be kept indoors at all times, as they are fearful and might make a dash for it. They will be coming with their own litter box and scoop, which should be kept separate from any litter boxes belonging to already existing house cats. (Do not share a litter box scoop.)
Important: If anything happens to your cat/kitten in the middle of the night (illness, accident, escape, etc.) please contact BCR. Do not wait until morning!
Remember to always work confidently and quietly with the cat/kitten. They pick up on any anxiety you may have, and equally on your sincere desire to help them feel comfortable, secure, and happy in a new home.
Obviously, some kittens will progress more quickly, and half these tips won't apply. But since we focus so strongly on feral kittens, and some of them are such little fear filled nutter butters to start, they certainly can't hurt!
The Captain of Browncoat Cat is a self proclaimed crazy cat lady. Of course, we're all mad here...