Why 50 Kittens
A few years ago, Martha saw a newspaper ad seeking volunteers willing to foster abandoned kittens for our local animal shelter. We love animals and felt like we had the kind of lifestyle and house arrangement that could accommodate such a gig (especially because Ted works from home), although we had no idea what was involved. So after attending a training course at the shelter (which left us confident, but still clueless), we fostered our first litter in late 2005.
We've continued to foster kittens since then. And although Ted always says that the kittens aren't substitutes for our own children, the fact is that caring for them provides a bit of an outlet for our otherwise unused parenting skills (without the worry of a college fund!) As the litters came and went, the notion of building a website to track our foster kittens occurred to us periodically. When our third full season of fostering kicked off in April 2008, two things finally gave us the initiative to start building the site:
First, we realized that we had reached the 50-kitten threshold, and were no longer clueless. While our 2005-2006 litters taught us the basics like bottle-feeding and weaning, the 2007 season threw the works at us eight-kitten litters, simultaneous litters, subcutaneous saline injections, cocktails of prescription meds, and round-the-clock monitoring of our sickest charges. We learned some things the hard way, and other things by talking to vets and our shelter's animal techs, or by picking through Google listings and thumbing through the few short books we found on raising orphaned kittens. Posting our own experiences and insights on a website began to seem like a good idea, both because it might be useful to other kitten-fosterers and because it would force us to think about and document what we've learned in our self-taught Kittens 101 class.
Our second motivation was sentimental. We realized that we were starting to have trouble remembering all of our foster kittens. Although it's easy to think about the feelings of love and pride and even grief that we've experienced, our memories of the kittens as individuals were blurring (not that we're getting old or anything!) Was that Yuri or Zappa who like to hide under the edge of the bed and ambush passing siblings?
When we bring them to 50K, the kittens are usually unnamed little fledglings that can barely walk. They wobble around on toothpick legs, mew plaintively, poop everywhere (!), and look like tangled mats of food and fur. Then (if we can keep them healthy), they gain a little strength, confidence, and character each day. By the time we put them up for adoption, they're sleek and strong, with distinct personalities ready to take on the world. We want to remember our experiences with them, so taking pictures and posting entries seemed like the best way to do it. And we had to get started while we could still recall early fosterlings like Sally and Jeff.
Finally, we wanted to pay tribute to the kittens we cared for that didn't survive long enough to find a permanent home. This website is dedicated to them.
Using this Site
There are three sequential components to this site: entries, kittens, and hijinx. Clicking the "entries" link at the top of any page takes you to the latest entry. From there, you can move backward (and forward again) through the sequence of entries, or go straight to a specific entry if you know its number.
Clicking the "hijinx" link at the top of any page takes you to the latest hijinx image and caption for the current litter, from which you can also scroll back and forth through the series for that litter. Or you use the select element to view the hijinx for a different litter.
Clicking the "kittens" link at the top of any page takes you to a page showing a thumbnail image of each fostered kitten, and clicking the name or thumbnail of the kitten takes you to the Bio page for that kitten. From there, you can move backward and forward through our sequence of kittens.
The reference page provides an alphabetized list of kitten-related terms you may encounter on this site, along with a simple definition of the word or phrase, based on our understanding and use of it.
Where do your foster kittens come from?
We live in the Washington, DC area, and the kittens we foster are given to us by local rescue organizations, who receive them from a variety of community sources. Some are the abandoned offspring of feral cats, some are taken from cat hoarders by animal control officers, some are turned in by owners of unspayed adult female cats, and some come from nearby animal shelters that don't have fostering programs.
How long do you keep your foster kittens?
We keep our foster kittens until they are healthy and weigh at least 2.5 lbs. When they've met those criteria and have received their FVRCP vaccines, they're ready to be adopted. So far, the shortest period we've fostered kittens for was two days, and the longest (yes, that would be you, Peaches) was 4.5 months.
Isn't it hard to give up your kittens after fostering them?
It's not that hard, because by the time are kittens are adopted, they've usually outgrown the space we can offer them at 50K, and because we know they're ready to find their forever homes. And giving up our fosterlings means we have room to take in a younger litter. The incoming kittens always look like they need a lot more help than the ones we're giving up.
How long do your kittens usually wait to get adopted?
Not long, since they're generally very social after spending time at 50K. Sometimes our kittens are adopted within a day or two of being listed with their sponsoring rescue organization.
Why are there advertisements on your site?
The advertising we run on 50Kittens.com generates a few dollars per month, which we use to buy L-lysine powder for our foster kittens.