Last weekend, the Bottle Baby Team trained a number of new Fosters who will care for our bottle babies in their homes. This is one of the most important and rewarding volunteer opportunities available through APA!
Fosters are required to attend one 90-minute training session that will prepare them for kitten setup, feeding schedules, documenting weight gain, and overall care.
They also learn about the developmental milestones for the babies so they can monitor their growth and development. Watching the babies grow is really an amazing thing. Development milestones include:
Kittens weigh about 3 to 4 ounces at birth (90-110g); they should double their body weight in the first week.
Eyes open at 7-10 days (and will be blue until kittens are 6-7 weeks old)
At about 3 weeks, they will start crawling around, but can inch around in as early as 4 days.
At 3½ weeks, the ears will start to stand up.
At 4 weeks, they'll start to play with each other and develop teeth.
At 4-5 weeks they will start weaning & be ready for "gruel" (a combination of water or formula with canned kitten food).
At 5-6 weeks they will start using the litter box.
At 6 weeks they will get their first vaccinations from APA!
At 8 weeks and 2lbs. kittens can be spayed/neutered & are immediately ready for adoption.
What's even more amazing is having firsthand visibility into the sweetest and innocent moments of the kittens in your care.
And it's okay if you have other animals in your home. After an initial period of isolation to keep kittens safe & healthy, many fosters carefully introduce older kittens to the other family members.
Fosters have access to vet techs to assist with answering questions and tending to any medical needs at no charge to the Foster parent. All APA! Fosters are also assigned a "mentor" who will check in periodically, answer any general questions, send reminders for milestones and vaccination schedules, and consult with fosters on the adoption process when the kittens are ready to find their forever homes.
It's important to note that Fosters can take kittens at any age. This means if they are comfortable & equipped to handle feedings every 2-3 hours then they might want to foster the youngest ones, but if they are more interested in fostering kittens that are 2-3 weeks old (or older) they can certainly do that.
As referenced in other blog posts, fosters can also take on pregnant and nursing mother cats, who might serve as surrogates if litters are small. We are also training volunteers to feed at our Bottle Baby Trailer on S. Congress for those who cannot foster. We always have semi-permanent residents there, and those kittens benefit from frequent visits by our volunteer feeders.
Bottle Baby Fosters can purchase a few supplies at a discount from the Bottle Baby Team, and have access to the APA! website listings and adoption events when the kittens are ready to find homes. (Unfortunately, APA! has not raised enough yet to cover all of the supplies for fosters.)
Any expenses fosters incur for a rescued pet is tax-deductible. If you are interested in becoming a Foster or a Foster Mentor, please complete the online foster application. If you want to volunteer to be a Bottle Baby feeder at our neonatal trailer, complete the volunteer application.
(The Cream & Orange kittens shown in this post are the Bottle Baby "M" litter, 5 boys: Mosi, Matagot, Mandu, Max & Morris. They went to foster on 3/30/10. The "H" litter kitten, Harlowe, shown with her foster mom's dog, has been in foster care since she was rescued from the shelter. The Black & White momma & litter have been in foster since 2/3/2010 and will be adoption ready next week!)