Fostering: How tiny kittens can have a big impact - BC SPCA
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Fostering: How tiny kittens can have a big impact

November 2, 2023

The photo of these impossibly fluffy kittens is just too much! Mom came into the BC SPCA’s care pregnant, part of an animal protection investigation that took place earlier this year. Gnocchi, as named by BC SPCA staff, gave birth to four kittens at one of the community animal centers. Staff soon became attached to the little ones named Fusilli, Ravioli, Rigatoni and Ziti (notice a theme?). Mom and babies have been thriving with one of the BC SPCA’s wonderful volunteer foster families since the kittens were three weeks old.

So, what has it been like taking care of this furry family? Tess, their foster mom, says it has been an amazing experience for the whole family. “When they first arrived, they were little balls of fluff. Their eyes were open, but so small.  They couldn’t move far from mom on their own,” she says.

In fact, Gnocchi took a lot of the pressure of having to care for the kittens off Tess’ shoulders. “People may be a little intimidated at taking in a mom and her kittens to foster, but the mom takes on so much of the work,” she says. “She feeds them for the first weeks and takes care of almost all the cleanup. Then once they are a bit older, they eat the same food as her.”

Tess adds that they had to give some meds to the kittens because they were ill when they first arrived and they needed to make a couple of trips to the centre for check-ins and other medications, but the centre staff was communicative and helpful around scheduling.

In terms of litter training, the easy part about kittens is that they often instinctually start using the litter box when they are ready, although there’s lots of scooping to keep it clean by the time, they are bigger. “Other than that, it’s just cleaning a bit every day,” says Tess.

Tess says so much has changed since they first arrived. “In the beginning they were adorable but really didn’t do anything but eat and sleep. Now they are adventurous, curious and playful. Anything new that is brought into the room they all run to check it out.”

The kittens have begun to mimic adult cat behaviors, and the distinctiveness in each one’s looks and personalities shows through a lot more now. “Fusilli is the entertainer of the group. He is the most adventurous,” says Tess. “They are a very well socialized litter but some of the others have moments of caution or concern, he just throws himself at life.”

Tess’ kids have benefitted so much from helping care for the animals who come into their home and so have the pets! “It’s such a win-win. It is a wonderful opportunity to teach your kids about the proper care and treatment of animals and they get used to being around children which gives them more options when it comes to suitable forever homes.”

The best part of taking care of a litter of kittens and their mom? “There is nothing better than walking into a room and finding a pool of five sleeping cats all curled up together. You can instantly feel yourself relax when you’re around them.” Tess adds that she misses the days when her 15-year-old cat was a kitten and she gets to revisit that. Will it be hard to say goodbye? “I have been a foster fail in the past, but I know that all of these cats are going to go on to have amazing lives with their forever families.”

Find out more about fostering!