Thursday, November 12, 2015

Wuthering Heights and the Joys of Foster Kitten Intake

So, intake is not my favorite part of fostering kittens. Many of our kittens come in as strays and from feral colonies, so they are not in pristine condition when they arrive. The reality generally is that you open a carrier to find a bunch of filthy kittens that are infested with fleas, have swollen wormy stomachs and stink of urine and feces. Yay! They are also generally terrified which makes the process of intake even more "exciting".
Last night I did the full intake for the new Wuthering Heights Kittens, thankfully with the help of several friends. Doing an intake by yourself is hard. It is also way more stressful. Having someone you can hand off the kitten to when you finish bathing it is really, really helpful. They can dry the kitten and you can dry yourself.

So, here's a bit about these kittens and then an overview of my intake process for new foster kittens.

On the Naming of Cats: The newest fosters are a litter of three kittens who don't look like they go together. Approximately 7 weeks old the new kittens are:

  • Heathcliff: Orange and white male tabby. Very active. Not food aggressive, but very vocal while eating. Some stray and feral cats growl while they are eating, not as a sign of aggression, but more as a sign of enjoyment. This can really freak people out because they make some crazy sounds. He was hissy and growly at first, but is socializing nicely.
  • Catherine Earnshaw: Brown medium hair tabby female. She's gorgeous and very floofy. Slightly timid at first, but now when I open the sliding glass door to the Kittenarium, she is the first one trying to jam her way inside. She has a very wildcat look about her. 
  • Linton: All black male with some medium length fur. He's the most timid of the bunch but is well mannered and fairly gentle. This kitten is very observant and is very interested in human activity. He currently has a bit of a limp and may have a sprained or strained ankle. If it isn't better in a day or two, he'll get looked at by a professional.

Here's how intake generally goes:
  • Step 1: Get the kitten. Fish a squirming kitten out of a box or carrier without scaring it overmuch and without too many new wounds to yourself. Do not smell the kitten.
  • Step 2: Triage. Give the kitten a brief triage style exam, looking for obvious problems. Mostly, I call it checking the holes- checking the status of all openings that are supposed to be there and looking for openings that at not supposed to be there.
  • Step 3: Make a plan. Based on triage, what does the kitten need.
  • Step 4: Bath time. Bathing a kitten that has just been received is a process that can be rewarding in the end, but is often pretty revolting and stressful. There will be a lot of stuff on the kitten that shouldn't be there and needs to be washed off. The kitten is not down with water. I usually recommend having a human buddy for the first bath. I try to keep my goals simple: don't drown the kitten, rinse until the water runs clear, use water temps that won't cause hypothermia or scalding, try to keep the kitten in the sink, try to get soap on most of the kitten and try to get soap off all of the kitten when you are done. Additionally, keep flicking fleas that are climbing onto the kitten's head to avoid water into the drain. 
  • Step 5: Dry kitten and administer forcible loving. Wrap that kitten like a burrito or swaddle it like the Christ child. Keep all legs inside the towel. Rub gently, snuggle often. Aim for purring and a mostly dry kitten.
  • Step 6: Medicate. Apply flea treatment and dose with Tape Tabs, Pyratel for worming and Marquis Paste to prevent Coccidia (protozoa that causes diarrhea).
  • Step 7: Naptime. Put the kitten into a nice clean place with a litter box, food, water and a den for sleeping and hiding. The kitten will likely partake in all of those activities immediately.
Paint me like one of your French kittens


  1. "Forcible loving." Heh. Is that last photo Catherine? I love floofy kitties! Our Edmund is floofy.

  2. That is indeed Catherine. She's a beauty. Floofy and a bit wild looking, like the Scottish Wildcats.