Here are my latest group of foster kittens. These are the first of 2009- which is pretty cool right there- very little need for foster homes until April! The kitten season is getting later and later, each of the three years that I have fostered kittens, mainly due to increased spay/neuter, particularly by the feral cat program at AHS. The pipeline of homeless animals is being narrowed. Many of the places that adopt out animals are taking in animals with more problems that in previous years they would have euthanized for space, because there are fewer animals available. So it is a good problem to have, and one that will continue to evolve as spay/neuter, increased education, and legislation all come together to tackle this overpopulation problem.
One downside in keeping older or younger animals, or animals with multiple or more severe problems, is that the success rate can be lower. A point in fact is there are six kittens in the picture above with Lumpy Dog. There are now only four kittens. These six kittens were turned in via the night box at TLAC, five together and one singleton. They were about a month old, at or a little less than a pound. Most kittens are still nursing and just experimenting with solid food at a month. Who knows what happened to the moms- killed, sick, abandoned the kittens? In years past, kittens less than 1 lb without a mom are immediately euthanized because they require more than a month in foster care, increased need for medical care, and lower success rate due to illness. Because this year there are fewer kittens and more foster homes available, they decided to give these guys a chance, and I was available to take them.
I picked them up last week and got them settled in the kitten room. I took them to the ranch over Easter weekend, as I have in years past, and the two smallest kittens broke with tarry diarrhea on Sunday. In the space of about 3 hours, despite force feeding, both were dead. I suspect Panleukopenia, which the feline version of Parvo. With immediate SQ or IV fluids, antibiotics, and intensive nursing care, these two may have made it. Or maybe not. Maybe there was too much stacked against them- too young, no mom, stress, change in diet, etc. So far the other four kittens are doing okay, but I can't help to keep staring at them and thinking "when are they going to break with it?"
It does make you think that pet owners are the craziest people of them all. We get so attached to these animals, knowing that they are going to die. If everything goes exactly as it should, even the best case scenario, we are going to out live our pets. Why do we do this to ourselves?