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Humane Society of Greater Rochester

A tiny family arrives at the shelter

foster kittens
When the kittens first arrived at the shelter, they were malnourished, and covered in fleas and lice.

It was late one night in October just before the shelter was getting ready to close for the evening when a litter of four tiny kittens was brought to Lollypop Farm. They had been rescued from a nearby barn. Just three weeks old and unable to eat on their own, these kittens needed round-the-clock care.

Luckily for pets at Lollypop Farm, when foster care volunteers are unavailable, or when rescue groups are unavailable, our staff step up to the plate. Bethani L., a Veterinary Assistant in the clinic, offered to take the kittens home for the night so that there would be time to find foster or rescue the next day.

The next morning when the kittens were brought back to Lollypop Farm, our veterinary team discovered that not only did they all have lice, they were severely malnourished. With all of the kitten foster homes already full, and rescues unable to take them, it was again the end of the day at Lollypop Farm and the kittens needed to go somewhere where they could receive round-the-clock bottle feeding. Yet again, a staff member stepped in to save the day.

Kittens find their way to foster

Kelly W. (Lollypop Farm’s Donor Relations Manager) and her wife Gabi are no strangers to fostering -they’ve taken on numerous litters in their home, even bottle-feeding 24-7 to keep tiny kittens alive. But this particular litter proved to be a bit different from their usual houseguests.

Kelly with kitten
For the first few weeks in foster, the kittens would have to be in quarantine, both at home and in the shelter.

Because of the lice, Kelly and Gabi had to quarantine the kittens in one of their spare bathrooms. To interact with them, they had to wear protective gowns, gloves, and booties, as to not spread the lice throughout their home and to their own pets. The kittens were quarantined in this way for two to three weeks to ensure that their infestation was completely gone.

“We had to feed them every two hours, and it was a few weeks before they totally ate on their own. Learning to eat is a messy job! We had to teach them everything, how to eat from a dish, how to use the litter box, everything!” – Kelly

Bathing foster kitten
The tiny kittens had to be bathed frequently and syringe-fed.

Kelly and Gabi had to wash the lice, fleas, and crusted blood off of the tiny kittens several times during the first few days in their homes, and then quickly blow them dry with a hair dryer, so that the kitten’s body temperatures wouldn’t fall too low. Because of the blood loss from the parasites, the kittens were anemic, and needed to receive fluids and medication for their first few days in their foster home.

Kelly brought the kittens to work with her so that she could care for them throughout the day. In the mornings she set them up for the day in the cat quarantine room with everything they needed to be entertained and comfortable. And not just her own foster kittens – since Kelly had to suit up in a gown, gloves and booties to go into the quarantine room anyways, she would clean the cages and change the litter for every single other cat in the room (twice a day!) to help the shelter staff save time on their daily rounds. In addition, Kelly donned the full quarantine gear on average 4 times during the day, on top of her normal responsibilities, to make sure the kittens were cared for.

Celebrating the end of quarantine


Foster kitten party
After a longer-than-anticipated quarantine, the whole family enjoyed a quarantine release party!

Unfortunately, during the kitten’s two-week-stay in quarantine they were potentially exposed to a communicable disease, and remained in quarantine (at the shelter and at home) for another full two weeks. By the time their quarantine period ended, foster parents Kelly and Gabi were so happy for the kittens they threw a quarantine release party! Not only did Perch, Moo, Cricket, and Tig get to celebrate, but their dog Harvey joined in on the fun as well.

harvey celebrates
Harvey celebrated the end of quarantine, too!

The family grows!

Finally, after weeks spent in their foster home receiving round-the-clock care, Perch, Moo, Cricket, and Tig were ready for adoption. Kelly was thrilled to see them healthy and ready to find homes, but after all of the time she had spent nursing them back to health, she felt that bringing this litter back to the shelter for adoption would be more difficult than usual. She had grown particularly fond of Moo, the black and white kitten who was the smallest of the litter and who’s health had been touch-and-go throughout the foster period.

On Halloween, the litter had officially become available for adoption. Secretly, Gabi came to the shelter and adopted Moo. She surprised Kelly with him – tiny Halloween costume and all! This little feline friend, and all of this siblings, joined incredible families, all thanks to the time invested in their care through fostering, and the support that comes from animal lovers in our community.

Kelly and kitten
Thanks to time spent in foster care, the whole litter found loving homes!

Because of her dedication to the care of these kittens (and so many others), Kelly was recognized as the Employee of the Quarter at Lollypop Farm in early November.

“It was amazing to watch these kittens heal and get stronger each day,” Kelly said. “Fostering is one of the biggest joys of my life. We open our home and our hearts to litter after litter and love each group as if they were our own. Then we bring them back to Lollypop Farm and know that they will find amazing homes. We have fostered over 60 kittens in the last few years and know that those are 60 little lives that we’ve helped.”

You can be a hero, too!


foster kitten in a towel
Fostering saves lives!

Have you ever considered welcoming foster pets into your home? You can make an immediate and lasting impact on the life of a homeless pet as a Foster Care Volunteer with Lollypop Farm.

Click here to learn more about becoming a foster care volunteer.
Click here to support kittens in need. When you make a gift now through the end of the year, your dollars will be doubled (so, $1 = $2!) thanks to the generosity of a local animal lover.