Our first orphaned foster kittens of 2015 were found alone in a sawmill and brought into the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA) operations center, where a volunteer named them Spruce, Sitka, and Sequoia.
These enormous kittens were described as semi-feral, but they proved to be incredibly gentle. Given their size, I wondered if I should throw on some oven mitts before pulling them from the carrier, but they never once attempted to scratch or bite, even when frightened.
Spruce, the largest and friendliest of the bunch, was quick to trust, and he set a good example for his siblings. Sitka, a gorgeous tabby who looked like the sort of wildcat you’d find roaming the African savannah, was the next to come around. Sequoia was the shyest of the bunch, and she required a lot of coaxing, but when she did decide to trust us, she became an affectionate little lap cat.
All of the kittens enjoyed being held and liked to sit with us. All were quick to purr, learned to come when called, and never needed to be told more than once not to do something.
We were a bit concerned about how our resident cats would react to the newcomers, as this batch were older than the kittens we usually bring in.
In the past, we’ve fostered orphans between 6 and 12 weeks of age, but this bunch were on the verge of adolescence – around 16-20 weeks – and might be perceived as threatening. Fortunately, these kittens had no interest in challenging for a higher place in the feline hierarchy. They were easy going and preferred to make friends rather than trouble.
With this foster litter, each of our resident cats got his or her own mini-me. Smokey, our big strong panther, found his shadow in Spruce, the laid back, goodnatured alpha of the foster bunch. Sage, our handsome tabby, found a near-match in Sitka, who had equally impressive markings and an equally tolerant temperament.
Freya, our sweet-natured, cautious, and highly intelligent little female found her mini-me in Sequoia who, in addition to being another black cat, shared various of personality traits with Freya, as both cats are thoughtful, wary, watchful, and sensible.
Sitka was adopted as a companion to his new owner’s resident cat, and he settled in and made friends quickly in his new home.
Spruce and Sequoia went as a pair, which was fortunate, as it would have been challenging for shy little Sequoia to adapt to a new environment without a familiar friend.
There isn’t much of a story to tell about these kittens because they were so little trouble compared to the younger orphans we’ve fostered in the past. Kittens who lose their mothers early often suffer from psychological and physical problems, and in many cases, they have accidents outside the litter box and poor grooming habits, though they usually get better over time.
Because the mini-me kittens had obviously stayed with their mother until an appropriate weaning time (at least 8 weeks, and preferably 12 or more for best results), they had impeccable grooming and litter box habits and no tummy troubles or special feeding requirements.
The difference between these kittens and so many of the others we’ve fostered provides evidence for the fact that kittens should never be taken away from their mothers too early.
People often adopt kittens before they’re ready, and this can cause serious health, behavioral, and psychological problems. For more information about why kittens should stay with their mothers for at least 8 weeks and preferably 12 or more, see How Old Should Kittens Be Before They’re Adopted Out?