a stepping-stone to adoption for abandoned furballs





about 50K

This One Goes to '11 –
The Year in Furballs


Everybody likes Big Yellow!

As the year opened, we were still plying miracle-kittens Oggi and Gigi with lysine supplements like Viralys and hoping that their clouded left eyes wouldn’t scare away potential adopters.

Oggi and Gigi were regulars at the breakfast table…

…and joined us for bubbly once in a while…

…before they sailed homeward on a long-awaited graduation day.

The Flying Nuns flew into 50K around Valentine’s Day.

And at the end of a short, hard-fought life on the streets, a once-powerful cat we renamed Taj spent his last few days sunning himself next to the 50K playground window. He purred when we fed him chicken baby food by hand.

Spiff and Moe joined the Nuns’ Flying Circus for a few days before heading home together.

And after Nicky and Natasha graduated, Natalie and Nanette romped around the back room…

…and took their regular seats at the bar.

By mid-March all the Nuns had flown the coop, and the Knights and their “older brother” Rex arrived.

We were never quite sure whether Percy was a true sibling, but all the Knights treated him like one.

With Rex and the Knights in the villa, mom-cat Georgia Ann and her Bottle Caps kittens landed in the bunkhouse. GA had a horrible URI and wasn’t eating, and three of her four kittens weren’t nursing.

The Knights strutted their stuff for a few days at PetMAC in downtown DC.

When Martha left for Africa, Ted syringe-fed Bottle Caps Alex, Ovi, and Nick. After a day or two they started fighting the syringe, which usually means imminent death from pneumonia. Another kitten-fosterer showed Ted how to tube-feed, but that couldn’t save Nick or Ovi. Alex deteriorated every day but somehow survived until Martha got back from her ten-day trip.

We dumped the tube and went back to syringe-feeding Alex for a few more days until he died, leaving us drained and depressed.

Over the course of three weeks Georgia Ann slowly recovered and eventually started nibbling dry food. And amazingly, her fourth kitten Tamara nursed away happily during the weeks when her mother sneezed and coughed and her brothers shriveled up and died.

Guinevere and Lancelot found homes, but Rex and Knights Nee, Maurelle, and Percy came back to 50K.

The Knights spent a few more days at PetMAC and were adopted, and sibling mom-cats Diamond and Dazzle set up shop in the villa with their combined litter of seven healthy kittens, who we called the Gems.

Having a healthy mom (or two!) makes all the difference in the world to young kittens. The Gems were weaned early and had no litterbox issues.

Even with a nestful of gray siblings, Pewter found room for a striped orange friend.

Sole surviving Bottle Cap Tamara grew bigger and stronger in the bunkhouse, which she continued to share with mom Georgia Ann.

And Diamond and Dazzle kept nursing and eating and teaching in the villa.

The Gems were gorgeous, but it was sometimes hard to tell Galena and Pewter apart, and it was impossible to tell Opal and Agate apart without a scale.

Mica was the first to come down with what we called Gem Fever. He vomited, stopped eating, lost weight, spiked a fever, and lost coordination in his back legs. We gave him subcutaneous fluids and syringe-fed him for three days, and were greatly relieved when he started eating again and recovered fully.

Over the next ten days, Mica’s six siblings all came down with Gem Fever and needed to be hand-fed. Luckily they did it one or two at a time, and all the Gems recovered completely.

By the time Lost Dog offered us four more bottle-baby kittens, Tamara looked bulletproof and Georgia Ann was much improved – and still nursing. We rolled the dice and put the bottle babies in the bunkhouse, calling them the Rally Caps.

After letting them nurse for a day or so, GA turned off the taps. But the Rally Caps stayed healthy and had a big fat mom-cat to snuggle with...

…and a bratty older sister to keep them in line.

Since GA wasn’t willing to nurse them, we broke out the bottles for Xander and the Rally Caps.

With Gem Fever in the rear-view mirror, Pewter and the Gems grew into gorgeous super-kittens.

And the Rally Caps grew bigger and stronger in the bunkhouse.

In the villa, Agate enjoyed a mom-cat sandwich between Dazzle and Diamond.

Adopters began inquiring about the Gems six weeks before they were ready to go home. First on everyone’s list: Galena.

Long after the Knights had gone home, our old pal Rex was enjoying life at PetMAC, where he met his orange BFF, Buster.

One of 2011’s longest-playing acts was GA nursing Tamara in the bunkhouse. The two of them graduated to another Lost Dog foster home in mid-May, and were adopted separately weeks later.

Agate was the last of the Gems to head home, and her death six weeks later was the saddest 50K story of the year.

Agate’s adopted sister was named Katie, and she shared the 50K playground with Agate for a few days before they went home together. Because Katie kept eating, food disappeared from their shared dish, and Agate’s new mom never noticed that Agate had completely stopped eating due to a URI.

We opened the bunkhouse door and gave the Rally Caps free rein over the 50K playground.

They quickly found the best hangout spots…

…but still headed back to the bunkhouse for meals.

All of the Rally Caps looked great, but Pucka’s classic looks stood out.

Prowling the landing outside the playground, Pucka and Xander fell under the sway of the fosterling who never left.

As Lost Dog kittens, the Rally Caps couldn’t attend adoption events until they’d been spay-neutered, so we took them down to Washington Humane’s low-cost spay-neuter clinic. All went well, and we set them up in the villa to recover.

Xander and the other Rally Caps turned into purring peep-cats.

In mid-July we got a call from a technician at the animal shelter in King George County, who told us a family had five two-week-old kittens that needed a foster home. We drove an hour south and the family made a longer drive north to meet us and hand them off. The Tour de France was underway at the time, so we named them the Peloton.

From the start, the Peloton kittens were healthy but quite messy, and Bobke and Cowboy could be relied on for comic relief.

After their second adoption event, Soxy...

…and Xander went home together. Twinkie went home a week earlier and Pucka a week later, both to families with another young cat.

Cowboy and the Peloton took to bottle-feeding right away.

Bobke had trouble keeping clean, so he got regular butt washes in the bunkhouse sink.

Wheels leap-frogged Cowboy and Bobke to become the biggest and strongest Peloton kitten.

Dinner guests of ours with far better skills and cameras captured Skoda on an after-dinner march.

Back in the bunkhouse, Skoda demonstrated his eating habits.

The Peloton practiced aerodynamic riding formations in the bunkhouse. LTR, Bobke, Skoda, Cowboy, Paris, Wheels.

We had an unexpected reunion with Moochers kittens Lincoln and TJ (who were born in the 50K villa) after noticing them listed on the Homeward Trails website. Unbeknownst to us, their family had returned them to HT a year after adopting them. When an HT foster home opened up, Ted drove them around the Beltway to Silver Spring.

The Peloton outgrew the bunkhouse, so we transferred them to the villa, which Paris and Bobke found comfy.

And we received a few always-welcome e-mails from our alumni network with updates on their awesome grown-up cats. This big guy, for example.

In the villa, the Peloton fun and games continued. Cowboy rounded up stray tubes...

…and a shy singleton named Smoky Joe weighed in and joined the party.

Smoky Joe gradually gained confidence and stopped hiding under the futon.

Skoda finally gained weight and closed the gap with this bigger brothers.

And Smoky Joe turned on the charm for potential adopters, which landed him a home with Paris.

Then more bottle-babies arrived! Three of them had little Zappa-style patches, so we named this group the Hepcats.

Miles, Dizzy, Maynard, and Yoko were off and rambling right away.

Like many kittens, Yoko and Miles thought the litterbox was a hip place to hang out...

…but Mom’s lap was even better.

We weren’t able to wean the Hepcats in the ten days before our vacation, so we passed them to another HT fosterer…

…and headed off to Spain, where we backpacked in the Pyrenees.

When we got home, we picked up the Hepcats and installed them in the villa…

…and read our backlog of e-mails, which included more great alumni shots, like this one of Pele and her adopted brother Bandit…

… and this one of Mica and his canine pal Zeke…

…and this one of Skoda and his peep-bro.

Skoda and Bobke landed a sweet gig at their forever home.

We were sad but not surprised to lose 50K staff dog Chase in mid-October. He was almost 14 and had had trouble breathing for six months. He lived a good long life, and we miss him every day.

In the evenings, we started to let the Hepcats chill with us in the back room.

Yoko and the boys welcomed shy big-kitten Orion to the villa during their last couple of weeks at 50K.

Miles turned into one good-looking Hepcat.

Kitten season is usually over by late October, but a family in Arlington found six newborn kittens in their backyard. The mom-cat was a neighborhood stray who’d been scared away by the family’s dog. We agreed to pick the kittens up and foster three of them. We transferred the other three to another HT foster home.

We called our three the Sluggers, since the World Series was underway, and we named the orange guy Albert.

When we pitched Albert a bottle, he took a big hit right away.

So did his dilute tortie sister, who we named Molina.

And so did his 3.8-oz sister Cruz.

The Sluggers spent their first week with us napping in a carrier in the 85-degree nursery, emerging every 3-4 hours for a meal, and napping again.

Dizzy, Miles, and Orion graduated from 50K and spent a few days at PetMAC before transferring to another HT foster home. As of today, only Orion is still looking for his forever home.

Yoko stayed at 50K along with Maynard until they were ready for their third vaccination.

As soon as Cruz, Albert, and Molina learned how to crawl around…

…they started suckling each other, as tiny orphaned kittens often do.

During their last few days at 50K, Maynard and Yoko were quite a contrast to the tiny Sluggers.

The Sluggers opened their eyes, gained traction…

…and got sick, as orphaned neonates usually do. We gave them antibiotics and their appetites quickly returned.

After Willow’s littermates Ash and Oak died, we brought her to 50K and reunited her with her surviving siblings.

As with the Peloton, weaning was a slowly-acquired concept for the Sluggers.

Cruz was the first to say goodbye to her bottle…

… and commit to eating like a big cat. Albert followed her lead but still occasionally squawks for his bottle.

And Molina’s slower-than-normal growth has meant supplemental bottle-feeding sessions for her.

The Sluggers settled into the villa…

…where Albert kept an eye on straggler Molina…

…and Cruz became the tomboy ringleader of the pack.

When Molina was feeling good, she leapt right into the games alongside her bigger sibs.

A few days before Christmas, we were asked if we could foster a couple of two-month-old kittens for a night or two.

They were healthy and friendly and had just been dropped off at the Prince Georges County shelter.

But when the vomiting started the next day, we learned their appearances were deceptive. They must have picked up a virus during their short stay at the shelter.

Bonnie stopped eating on her first full day at 50K, and Clyde followed her lead a day later. After only a few hand-fed meals, Clyde felt better and started eating again. Bonnie had a tougher time – we syringe-fed her 20 meals over five days.

Molina was on an upswing in the villa when Bonnie and Clyde arrived…

…but the Barrow Gang virus found its way to the villa, and within a few days Cruz, Albert, and Molina were skipping meals and barfing up the small amounts they ate.

When Bonnie finally beat the virus, we knew the Sluggers wouldn’t be far behind.

And all it took to get them eating again was a little help from the bottle.

Chairman Clyde presided over the back room…

…until we let the Sluggers join a couple of play sessions, which triggered some predictable hissing and growling. We relocated Bonnie and Clyde to the villa, and most of the Sluggers were fine with that.

But as 2011 wound to a close, Cruz still wasn’t rolling out the welcome wagon for the Barrow Gang. She’ll probably cave in and join the festivities by the time we pop the corks tonight.

Thanks for following our eventful year in furballs, and for offering your encouragement and suggestions – we really appreciate it.

Martha, Ted and staff critters Khola, Reggie, Mia, and Yogi wish you all the best for 2012!

filed by: TS



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