For the last two weeks I have had the pleasure of hosting several three-night sleepovers. As with all good pajama parties, I got comfy in my robe and slippers, gathered up soft blankets, squishy pillows and lots of snacks. Then I settled down to enjoy a late night gab-fest with a good friend. Oddly enough, my friend was mostly interested in the food and had little to say other than the odd squeak. I did most of the talking and none of the eating. I did watch a little BBC news on my phone and read a little of my current spy novel. Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? Well, let me disabuse you of that notion!
My sleepover pal just happened to be a six day old orphaned ginger kitten who came to us at the Center from a good Samaritan who just could not say no to the person who asked, “Hey, can you take this kitten? We are going to leave it in that field!” Not being experienced in caring for newborns, and having two grown cats already in the house, our kitty rescuer came to us. Meet Apollo, or Appo, as I call him. A tiny bundle of charm so young that his eyes were barely beginning to open and his ears were firmly folded close to his fuzzy little head. Ginger in color with faint darker gold stripes; tiny whiskers like silken threads; claws so new that they felt more like rubber than the needles that they quickly developed into, this kitty was filled with desire—for cuddling, gentle stroking and MILK! That tiny body consumed what must translate into gallons of kitten formula at each feeding. He could not get that nipple into his mouth fast enough! Any delay was met with scrabbling feet, a large, pink open mouth and an assorted symphony of squeaks, chirrups, and clicks. It has been quite a few years (to understate a bit) since I have had the pleasure of night-time feedings, and I was unsure as to my ability to get up, hold up and feed up. However, I must say, it was fun, and so heartwarming. I began to look forward to wake-up time and to repress the urge to wake Appo from his very sound, if twitchy, naps just so I could cuddle and play with him.
On switchover days when I returned him to Mona, his other mother, I felt a sort of empty nest syndrome. Nice as it is to have unbroken sleep at night, I will miss my kitten-mom days. Appo is growing so rapidly that I know in a few weeks he will no longer require this specific kind of care. Those will be good times too, what with leaping, pouncing, stalking and the abrupt collapse into sleep that is typical of the very young. But not the same! Much of my foster experience has been “Fospice”—fostering adult cats who are in need of end of life care. I have deeply cherished those experiences, but I have learned that the beginning of life is very similar. The love and care and attention to physical needs are very similar on both ends of the spectrum. If you have the time, energy and desire to witness either the very young or the very old, foster care is for you. So many local organizations are crying out for volunteers—especially in “kitten season”. I cannot more sincerely recommend the experience. A final thought…if you would like to save 100 cat lives, spay or neuter one adult cat. Those are real statistics and there are spay/neuter programs available in all areas. Come and visit Appo and his cohorts, feline and canine, at the Center Tuesday through Saturday from 10-12. See you there!