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Old July 20th, 2009, 08:48 PM
zoofoster zoofoster is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: near Montréal
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Question Fostering queens (pregnant cats)?

Hi all,

I've been looking for a while for a foster forum, and I finally found one...

I recently started fostering, not as a way to ease into adopting, to see if I'm sure I want a new pet or to see if "I really want that dog", but to volunteer.

I want to be an almost 24/7 foster. Well, 24/7 isn't the right way to put it, more 365/year, since when you foster, it's of course 24/7!

Since I live pretty far from the nearest shelter, SPCA included, I wanted to focus on pregnant cats... not only did I know those cases were harder to place for them, but it meant less times driving for me... and more time between the drives for the cat(s).

Instead of staying only about 1-2 weeks in a rhino case, the pregnant cat stays at least 2 months, as do the kittens!

But I had 2 cases, and both times, I had to return a kitten-less cat.

First time, mom didn't have enough milk, as the vet told me when I got there after one kitten died... I had to feed them myself, but to no avail. The sturdiest survived up to 3 weeks, but that was it.

Second time, mom had no maternal instincts whatsoever, I had to teach her to stay with her kittens, one stillborn, and all others severely underweight at birth... All dead within 3 days...

Both moms were thin when I got them, both had poor maternal instincts (second one was much worst though), none ate the placentas or severed the ombilical cords, I had to do it both times (don't know if it was a sign of any kind)...

My question is : has anyone had experience with fostering queens?
How was it?

Are those kind of troubles the norm?

Is it with the SPCA?

Was I just sooo unlucky? (I tend to be...)

The SPCA foster program girls told me it was just bad luck and it's normally easy... but would they lie to me just hoping I continue to help? I truly don't think so... But I'd really like to hear about others who fostered queens...

I know it's not something I did, I didn't have anything to do with the first one not having enough milk, and I didn't have anything to do with the second litter kittens not being big enough... Plus, I had done my research on what to do or not...

But I'm very curious.
I knew there could be deaths, I was ready for a stillborn, even one death along the way... I'd be OK (sad, frustrated, but OK), even losing up to 1/2 the litter... knowing what the queen went through and all... But not all the litter, twice in a row!!!

For now, I'm not fostering, I needed to take a break. Simply put, it had been hard emotionally but more than that, my health couldn't take it either, I have been bedridden since then, and I just couldn't take a foster and not take care of it!

But also, next one won't be a pregnant cat... Probably small kittens, too young to adopt... Or maybe even a rabbit or a ferret... Really wish I could take in a dog, but I don't have the health to walk one. I could take in a puppy, or a small litter of real young puppies, but they don't seem to have any!

So please, help me learn... will I ever take the chance again?
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 11:48 AM
edwina's Avatar
edwina edwina is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 855
Second time, mom had no maternal instincts whatsoever
Alot of times that happens with young mothers or first time litters. I have had mothers that dont wash them either, and i have had to clean them. They grow with experiance , but nobody want them to keep having many litters just to learn how to take care of there kittens. :sad:

First time, mom didn't have enough milk, as the vet told me when I got there after one kitten died... I had to feed them myself, but to no avail. The sturdiest survived up to 3 weeks, but that was it.
This can happen with a real young mother, and a senior cat also. Unfortunetly its hard to raise them from birth unless you can be there at all times for feeding, etc. :sad:

The SPCA foster program girls told me it was just bad luck and it's normally easy... but would they lie to me just hoping I continue to help? I truly don't think so... But I'd really like to hear about others who fostered queens...
It can be easy if you get a female that has had kittens before and isnt too old
but every pregnancy can have complications. I have never lost kittens if they were 3 weeks or older, till recently. No matter what i did, i just couldnt save him. Unfortunetly that is how it is, you never know what your going to have till you get it. :sad:
I would try to keep fostering if you can, it can be very heart braking, i have several good cry's a summer because of losing kittens, or problems with stray mothers that come in the area. But i still feel like i am helping, so it may be worth it.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 12:03 PM
BenMax BenMax is offline
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Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 10,187
This has happened to me..... so you are not alone.

Any shelter setting is very stressful for most animals in general, but they do play havic on the ones that are pregnant, old, and of course ill.

You provided them with the best chances of survival. Because they were not viable - this is not anyone's fault. It was nature's way and not preventable.

The girl at the MSPCA was not leading you astray. You hit bad luck. But I will tell you that not all kittens survive and therefore you must be prepared for this fact.

I would start all over again and maybe consider taking in young kittens that need your help. They will be a little sturdier and their chances of survival will be better. What you need to get you back into the saddle is something positive. Try fostering a cat that is young but not too young and fragile.

If your health is not great - don't go for a puppy. My health is just fine but the pups completely exhaust me. As cute as they may be - they are handfuls.

Please continue to foster. It is a very difficult job but very rewarding.

Best to you.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 12:41 PM
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Love4himies Love4himies is offline
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I have been lucky so far and have only lost one kitten to a congenital defect (thank goodness, because one was enough). Both queens have been experienced mommas. It is not that rare for young, first time mommas to not be successful with thier kittens, usually they are just kittens themselves :sad:. All my other fosters have been without a momma and 4 weeks and older.

Luvmylabs has had alot of experience fostering queens, she should be able to give you some more insight.

Please don't let this discourage you from fostering. It is so important for these cats to have a peaceful place to raise their babies as a shelter is so stressful.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 12:53 PM
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CearaQC CearaQC is offline
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Location: Great White North
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Puppies are HARD work. Kittens much much much easier. Kittens don't go around gnawing on door frames and chair legs. But I guess they could climb curtains instead.

I think you just hit bad luck.
Sandy Belle Sheeba - born 11/14/07 at 12:30 pm Linx Jasper
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 08:12 PM
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lUvMyLaB<3 lUvMyLaB<3 is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Brandon, mb, Canada
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Sadly this happens. Usually kittens can be cared for very successfully without their mother. I have done this and had no troubles. I have lost kittens due to genetic issues, young sick mothers.

There are things that can cause a mother to have low milk supply, but if she was not in good hands previosly, nothing can be done when it is too late, other than large amounds of fluid, good healthy food..
AS for not having a motherly instinct, that has happened too, Usually they are young and scared. Sometimes being in a new strange environment that the cat is fearful of will be the cause of this.

I have been lucky enough to be chosen as the one to take care of these cats, each of them have a permanent place in my heart forever. Most rewarding thing you can do. Don't be discouraged.

These situations are not the norm, and feeding kittens without the mother can be tricky there are alot of things you have to do just right, but it can be done very well.

It is sad that this happened to you, but don't give up. The second mother was probably young, and scared, and confused. If one was stillborn they could have been sick. None of the troubles are your fault. So I say give it a go again. There will be nothing that can replace what it in your heart after you send some babies off to a loving forever home.

Also, a queen with kittens usually will stay for more than 2 months.. I don't know how your SPCA does it, but I wont wean before 12 weeks, and I never take all the kittens at once, one kitten every 4 days. I don't like the idea of grabbing them from her and running out the door, the mother then cries and cries and looks for them, sometimes into a panicked frenzy..

Good luck! If you do get another momma there is lots of help here to guide you through! If you ever have any questions I am here, I have not seen it all, but close! Good luck!
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death, foster, kittens, pregnant, queen

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