Brooke Berlin of the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin Medical team holds a tiny ball of orange fluff, a two week-old kitten making shockingly loud sounds.
Berlin grasps the small kitten with her left hand and gently inserts a syringe into the baby’s mouth. The baby kitten is quiet for a few seconds while she drinks the kitten milk replacement, or KMR.
The tiny kitten is one of a litter of eight, two-week old newborns. Berlin will repeat the feeding process with all seven of the other newborns crawling around in the blanket-lined cat carrier.
In two hours, she or another med-tech will feed all eight kittens again with syringes, and then all eight kittens will be fed in another two hours, and then again in another two hours around the clock.
This batch of eight newborns will go to one of the shelter’s baby bottle foster homes where the care and feeding will be taken over by a loving volunteer.
Lori Taylor is a foster parent, specializing in bottle babies and or orphans.
“I love being able to provide them a safe place until they find their forever home,” Taylor said. Taylor was the foster mom who took in the eight, two-week old kittens and continued caring for them.
Taylor and other foster families typically keep the kittens until they are eight weeks old or two pounds when they can eat on their own. When asked if it’s hard to give them up Tyalor replied, “I cry every time I turn them over.”
At that time the small kittens are returned to the Humane Society where they will be spayed or neutered, given age appropriate shots, and micro-chipped. Bonus, the micro chip will be programmed with the new families name, address and contact information.
Volunteers and foster families are the backbone of the Human Society of Southern Wisconsin, allowing help to be provided to more animals.
Everyone who volunteers and or fosters receives training and support, food, toys; everything a family needs to provide a loving, safe environment for the furry babies.
Adopting two kittens is always better than adopting one. The young kittens are less naughty, plus there is a $40 discount when adopting two at a time—two kittens do not need to be from the same litter.
The fee for double kitten adoption is $190; the single kitten adoption fee is $115.
Kitten season begins as temperatures warm up in the spring. Litters of kittens are found everywhere.
If you were to find a stray kitten or a litter of kittens, the first step would be to look carefully at the kittens; the mom cat may be nearby. If the kittens are quiet, clean and warm, mom is most likely in the area waiting for you to leave. If the baby kittens are crying, dirty and cold, most likely mom has gone and it’s safe to take the kittens to the Humane Society.
Or call the Humane Society at: 608-752-5622.
A good rule of thumb is to wait 24 hours to see if the mom cat shows up. If she doesn’t, it’s a pretty safe bet she’s gone and the kittens will need help to survive.
Folks at the Humane Society emphasize that you should never hesitate to call or bring in found or abandoned kittens.
Some kittens are found with their mothers. If mom cat and all her kittens can be safely captured, it’s ok to bring them to the shelter. If you are not able to catch them all, it’s best to leave the animals where you found them.
Once kittens are weaned, around 6 to 8 weeks of age, it’s OK to bring them into the shelter without their mom. Always feel free to call if you’re unsure of what to do or have any questions.
Foster folks come in all different types and range in age from 18 to 80. Some foster baby kittens only for a short time. Due to life circumstances, some need to take a break and stop, starting up again at a later date when they are able. Some fosters are rock solid who can be counted on no matter what to take in a new batch of kittens.
Teachers are a special breed of foster folks. A teacher’s time off typically coincides with kitten season. Used to caring for many, some teachers welcome kittens needing foster care into their homes during the summer months.
Some teachers extend their foster care into the school year. A French teacher from Parker High School in Janesville had her students read out loud in French to the foster kittens she brought to school.
“New foster folks have come out of the woodwork during the COVID pandemic,” says Amy Warrichaiet, Volunteer, Foster, and Transport Coordinator. “There can be up to 120+ new kittens in foster care at any one time.”
Fostering is an option for anyone who wants to help. Adoption is not necessary. Temporary homes are always needed for younger kittens; not all kittens require bottle feeding. “Fostering is good for the humans too, providing companionship and the undeniable feeling of appreciation that comes from helping,” says Social Media Marketing & Events Coordinator Hannah Hathaway. The Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin, founded in 1910 has a tremendous track record of finding new homes for pets in need.
Taylor’s husband calls her a “kitten whisperer.”
“I didn’t know I would love fostering as much as I do. I think it’s actually my calling,” said Taylor “I’m in it forever. It’s very, very rewarding.”
Want to see if fostering animals in need is the right fit for you? Call the Humane Society of Southern WI at: 608-752-5622 or check out their website: www.petsgohome.org.
You may begin as a foster parent. If you were to fall in love with the animal you’re fostering and decided to keep it, that’s called a “foster fail.” It’s a win-win-win for you, the animal and the Humane Society.