Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, but my family did not go out to the bar or wear green (I think I might’ve been wearing green actually, but it wasn’t on purpose). Instead, we did something much more exciting…
We rescued two little baby kittens. Two little precious parcels of cuteness.
And I do mean rescued.
By the way: I normally schedule blog posts to come out about a week in advance, but this is an INTERRUPTION OF REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING BECAUSE KITTENS.
Backstory – Why We Wanted Kittens
I mean, besides the fact that they’re adorable.
As you may know, we have two cats – one 16 year old black boy and a 2 year old orange girl (click here to learn all about them!). We got the 2 year old exactly 1 year ago to keep our old boy active. That works out fine, except that he does not appreciate the company and only tolerates her. It’s good for him to have another cat around, but he doesn’t really appreciate having another cat around.
Hess, the orange girl, was a year old when we got her from the local pet store, but she had the energy of a much younger cat. And a year later, she hasn’t really calmed down at all. Despite daily play sessions and tons of solo toys scattered around our house, we felt that she wasn’t getting enough activity – especially since we go away to work all day!
So obviously, we needed another cat – a young one with plenty of energy.
It seemed like the perfect opportunity to get a kitten. Matt and I both grew up with cats, but neither of us had ever experienced a true kitten.
On top of that, ever since my college roommate (a vet student) fostered two baby kittens, I have wanted to have two kittens at once. I remember literally skipping class to hang out with her kittens when I was cat-sitting for her. And y’know what, I don’t regret that one bit. Nothing I could’ve learned in class can possibly compare to cuddly little kittens!
We decided to start looking for some new babies to add to the family.
Why We Rejected a Traditional Animal Shelter
In the past, our families have gotten their cats from local animal shelters that hold adoption events at local pet stores. The cats at these shelters have all been vaccinated, and are well taken care of in foster families. They don’t allow kittens to be adopted out until they are 12 weeks old, to make sure they receive their shots and have plenty of time to get socialized with their litter-mates.
This is great, and I support the work they do. However, the kittens at these shelters get snapped up almost instantly. It doesn’t feel like much of a rescue, because they are practically guaranteed to get adopted.
On Saturday, we were told a litter of kittens had just turned 12 weeks and would be at an adoption event. When we went to look at them, they were surround by a mob of people who wanted them…and when I checked the rescue website two hours later, 3 of the 4 kittens had already been adopted.
It was clearly going to be difficult to find sibling kittens this way, and it didn’t feel like much of a rescue. Since we were taking two, we had the opportunity to get kittens that were younger than 12 weeks – really too young to be leaving their litter-mates – and make sure they were properly socialized and taken care of. It seemed wasteful not to use that opportunity.
Enter: Craigslist and the Trailer
We turned to Craigslist to see if there were any ads for free (or really cheap) kittens. We didn’t want to spend much for non-shelter kittens, since we would need to get them all their vaccinations and a full vet check up. That stuff gets expensive!
We found three litters of kittens within an hour’s drive, and contacted them. The first people to respond were only 30 minutes away, so we opted to see their kittens first. They had three nine-week-old kittens available – two white, short-haired boys and a brown & gray long-haired girl.
We drove down and found their address in a trailer park. The trailers looked nice and new, and we were hopeful of nice conditions where we could meet and play with the new kittens.
The people met us at the door holding the kittens. They were young – they couldn’t have been more than 20, and might have been younger. They invited us in and…
Oh boy. You know that TV show about the people who hoard animals? I don’t watch it (or really any TV show….), but my Dad used to occasionally turn it on.
Well, the SINGLE WIDE trailer looked kinda like that.
There were 5 large dogs in crates in the kitchen where we walked in – and by large, I mean Siberian Husky sized.
And then the living room was…full of cats. There were 9 or 10 cats that we SAW, and we didn’t walk through the house. We just stood in the entry way, meeting the kittens.
The trailer smelled pretty bad, and there was junk everywhere. The young couple told us that they were sorry about the kitchen being ripped up (it didn’t have a floor – just a subfloor). They were redoing the house, they said, in order to sell it. You’ve gotta fix all the holes in the walls before you sell the house, y’know?
On the plus side, the kittens – and all the cats that we saw – looked reasonably healthy. The people didn’t vaccinate or spay/neuter any of their cats (obviously…), but their coats looked healthy and there were no obvious signs of disease. The people did tell us that they have worms – they had been trying to deworm them, they said, but the kittens needed a few more doses of dewormer. I imagine it is difficult to keep worms out when there are 9+ cats living in a single wide trailer.
We decided that we didn’t want to look at any other kittens. We wanted to rescue THESE kittens. Specifically, we chose the little tabby girl, who clung to me the minute I picked her up and purred. We also chose one of the white boys, opting for the larger, more robust-looking of the two. He didn’t show much interest in being held, but wanted to run around and play – perfect for a playmate for Hess!
We loaded them into the cat carrier and began the drive home. The tabby girl, who we named Bella, just sat in the carrier and looked around with big, wide eyes. The little white male, who we named Giblet (think Giblets and Gravy), tried to paw his way out of the cage, mewling. He finally gave up and cuddled with his sister. It was adorable.
When we brought them home, Shadow and Hess were conveniently sitting by the doorwall, so we showed them the kittens through the glass. Shadow showed no interest, but Hess perked up her ears and tried to sniff them. When we brought them in the house, she came running up to the cage – a good sign!
Below are some photos that Matt took on his phone of the new babes. Better pictures are coming…after they receive their clean bill of health and we let ourselves get attached (as if we haven’t already…)
Of course, we couldn’t let Hess get too close to the kittens. Even though she has had all of her shots, we don’t want to risk her getting any illnesses from the new cats. They look healthy, but they could be carrying Feline Leukemia, Feline Aids, Distemper, or other diseases. We need to get them checked by a veterinarian before we risk introducing them to our current cats.
We set up a little isolation room for them in the bathroom. The bathroom may seem like a cold, dark, sad place for kittens…and it is. However, the bathroom is a place that is very easy to clean, in the event that the kittens have a disease or fleas or any other issue. It’s also easy to clean up any missed litter box attempts. Since the kittens are only 9 weeks old, and do have worms, we weren’t sure if they would be proficient at using the litter box yet.
They were scared and shivering when we first let them out of the carrier, but it only took a few minutes for them to start exploring their new environment. We put down old (clean) painting sheets over the tile floor and made them a cardboard box bed to sleep in. We also put a nightlight in the room with them, so they are never completely in the dark.
Bella seems like she is going to be quite the cuddler, as she already loves to crawl into our laps and purr. Giblet is the more adventurous of the two kittens, and I think that he will be extremely playful once he settles in.
How To Isolate Cats & Kittens
It’s super important to isolate any strange cats or kittens from your current cats, until you can verify that the new kitties are healthy. Here’s some things to be aware of
- Wash Your Hands After Handling. After we touch the kittens, we wash our hands thoroughly with soap and water. This will prevent you from spreading disease to your other cats.
- Special Clothes. We are keeping a special change of clothes in the bathroom with the kittens. We leave our regular clothes outside the bathroom, and put on the special ones before holding the babes. This is a precaution against Feline Distemper, which is extremely contagious and can live on surfaces for a very long time.
- Separate Equipment. None of the bowls, litter boxes, or toys in the kitten’s room will be used for our other cats unless we can verify that they are completely healthy. If they are not, those items will need to be fully sanitized before they can be used by another cat.
- Separate Litter Boxes. This will be a longer lasting system, since the kittens DO have worms. Cats spread worms by using the same box, so the kittens won’t be allowed free run of the house (and all the litter boxes) until they are worm-free.
We have an appointment at the vet’s office tomorrow afternoon, where we are hoping to get the kittens a clean bill of health, and treatment for their worms. After that, we will probably need to bathe the kittens (although cats are naturally clean, their environment was pretty awful and they are sorta stinky right now). Then we will start introducing them to our other cats. I’ll be taking nice photos and blogging about that process, to help you guys introduce new cats in your household.
Just do me a favor: ALWAYS spay and neuter your pets. Don’t contribute to horrible, cat-filled trailers and endless litters of kittens that need a home.
I’ll also include a (short) update about these little guys in later posts this week. They won’t be the focus of those posts, but I won’t leave you hanging!
Here’s hoping and praying that these little buggers are healthy and can quickly integrate into our home. 🙂