His heart went out to the tabby with a bit of white on her chest—and then he thought of her five young kittens.
Mark had first noticed the stray mother cat five days prior when he went out to the garage to get the lawn mower. The mother cat was fearful and ran away whenever Mark or his wife, Marybeth, came near.
Since the kittens were just two weeks old and the mother appeared to be feral, the couple’s plan was to make sure the kittens were safe and protected in the garage for a few weeks until they were weaned, and then call the Kentucky Humane Society for advice.
But that plan went out the window when he found the mother cat dead on the street.
Mark parked his vehicle and went in to the garage. The kittens were curled up together on a tarp.
“I saw them and thought, what do I do? They could barely walk – they were so young.”
Marybeth called his sister, who had cats, for advice. She said that the kittens would need a special milk formula.
“The first thing I did was Google ‘kitten formula.’ I saw that Walmart sells it, so I went out and got it. They also had little syringes for bottles,” he said.
Feeding the Kittens
Mark returned around 10:30 p.m. With Marybeth’s help, he held each crying kitten and offered them formula. But the kittens had never eaten from a syringe before, and feeding them was difficult.
Marybeth is extremely allergic to cats, and her hands swelled up from handling them. Mark offered to do the rest of the feedings by himself.
Mark had read online that kittens this tiny needed to be fed every three to four hours. He set his alarm clock for 3 a.m. and dozed on the couch until his alarm clock went off. He gave the kittens their second feeding, and this time he had better success: just two resisted, but the others were hungry and accepted the food.
He set his alarm again for 6:30. This time, all five of the kittens ran towards him and eagerly drank the milk.
Coming to the Kentucky Humane Society
After breakfast, Mark brought the kittens to the Kentucky Humane Society’s Main Campus on Steedly Drive. Thankfully KHS had room in our kitten foster program and could accept them immediately.
Camille, the KHS admissions clerk, asked Mark if he wanted to name the kittens. He called the biggest kitten Chubby. The two other striped kittens he named Tiger and Tabby. He called the little brown and black kitten Grumpy. And the cream and gray kitten he named Jasmine.
“The lady at the front desk was tickled they looked so healthy,” said Mark, pleased that his internet searches had led to the right information.
The kittens are now being cared for by a KHS foster caregiver who is experienced with “bottle babies.” Kittens at this age are very fragile, and they require constant care. The kittens will remain in foster care until they are old enough for adoption.
“This time of year, we see so many kittens coming into the shelter,” says Kayla Saylor, KHS Foster Coordinator. “Some have been orphaned like these little ones and need to be bottle fed. Others come in with their moms and or just need a few weeks to grow. For all of them, we rely on foster caregivers to provide them with nutrition, love and socialization.”
Interested in fostering?
If you are interested in becoming a foster caregiver, please contact Kayla Saylor, KHS Foster Coordinator, at [email protected] or call 502-366-3355 extension 2260.
Foster caregivers typically care for animals for a few weeks. Many KHS foster caregivers work full-time and have animals of their own. KHS provides all necessary training, food and supplies, including crates and litter boxes. You provide love, socialization and a temporary home. Once the animals are ready for adoption, they return to KHS.
“Fostering is so rewarding,” says Kayla. “You get to see the animals grow and develop, and it’s so satisfying to know you are helping a shelter animal get ready for their forever home.”
Our foster program is generously supported by the Petco Foundation and the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).