New Foster: Mama Amiga

posted in: Education, Fostering | 0

We took in a new foster on Monday, an adorable tabby/calico named Amiga. She came into SPARC as a stray and they had a feeling she might be pregnant. They performed an ultrasound and sure enough, kittens! I got a call asking if I could take her in and after figuring out where to have her stay safely while Coriander and Saffron are still here, I said yes and drove over to SPARC to pick her up.

Coriander and Saffron go back to SPARC Saturday afternoon for their spay/neuter surgeries and then to their “furever” home after that. Once they have moved on (sniff, sniff) I will deep clean the back room and move Amiga back there. For now, she is in a playpen in our daughter’s room (she’s living out of state for college so we have a little extra space on our hands). Amiga is probably not due for a few weeks, so we will just let her relax and keep her well-fed and well-hydrated. She’s very affectionate and friendly, and I am looking forward to getting to know her personality better.

If you’ve wanted to foster but didn’t think you had the room, these playpens can be very helpful. An extra bathroom, den, or bedroom works too! I like setting up these clear panels that can be found on Amazon for my fosters, but for several years I used the playpen until I felt the kitties could roam safely in my laundry/craft room.

Welcome, mama Amiga! Can’t wait to meet your kittens. 🙂

Mama Amiga, our newest foster

July Update

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With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increasing in Ventura County we continue to watch and wait for a safe time to open the lounge. It would not be considered an essential business and as a non-profit organization, we need to be fiscally responsible. So, we wait. We have had some success with various fundraisers, raising about $300 since our last blog update. It is normal for donations to slow down once our immediate friends and family members have made their donations and our goal now is to grow our base of followers and supporters via Facebook and Instagram. The Facebook account has almost 130 followers and the Instagram account has a little over 170 followers. We’re sharing updates on fosters, thanking donors, showing off our cat-related clothing (#fridayfelinefinery), posting about new fundraisers, and more.

In terms of fundraisers, we have all kinds of handmade items for cats in our shop: bow ties, large kickers, mini kickers, felt toys in the shape of Scottie dogs, ladybugs, squirrels, and even fortune cookies, and more. We have 7 shirt/sweatshirt offerings and a Cassie’s Cats branded mask in the Bonfire storefront. Soon we will have a set of four watercolor notecards. The artwork is courtesy of one of my students from Oak Grove, a rising senior named Anna, and her paintings are beautiful. We can’t wait to get the notecards into the shop!

Thank you as always for your support. If you have any questions or would like to get involved, please feel free to reach out. 🙂

An Update for June

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I thought it would be helpful to followers and supporters to know a little bit more about what has been happening behind the scenes at Cassie’s Cats. In January of this year, we filed for federal tax exemption, and in March we received our determination letter stating that we were an official 501 (c) 3 organization and that all donations to us would be tax-deductible. That was an exciting day! From there we filed for state tax exemption and filed other required paperwork. We also got listed with GuideStar and made sure we could be found in the Amazon Smile program and Facebook fundraising program (via Network for Good). We established a local bank account and from there were able to set up a PayPal account for nonprofits. We took advantage of Google’s offer of free Google Suite accounts for nonprofits so that we could make full use of email, shared docs and sheets, and more. We set up an Amazon account and created a wishlist. We ordered logo stickers from Sticker Mule to hand out to anyone who donated at least $5. (I have one my car and on my water bottle now, too!)

Once we had all of the legal things in place we were ready to start soliciting donations and holding fundraisers. We’ve been selling handmade cat toys (kickers and felt toys, both with catnip) as well as running a t-shirt and sweatshirt campaign on Bonfire. We have had financial donations come in as well as in-kind donations of kitten formula, cat litter, wet food for kittens, and kitten kibble. We have two more shirt designs waiting in the wings to launch later this month.

Since the beginning of April, we have raised about $1300 from fundraisers, straight financial donations, and in-kind donations.

So what’s next?

We continue to scout for places to lease for the lounge and adoption center. Ideally, we would like to find a place in midtown Ventura. There are several possible options available now, ranging from about $1500-$2400. With Ventura County slowly reopening, we are waiting to commit until it feels safe both from a health perspective and from a financial perspective. Once we are ready we will need to secure appropriate insurance as well as city permits (plus utilities and WiFi). How much work we will need to do to be ready to open will depend on the place that we finally lease. I have started a multi-store registry – think wedding or baby shower, but for cats! – and once we know we’ve got a place I will share that list so that people can send gifts for the cats we will soon be hosting. And speaking of cats: for now, I plan to work with VCAS and SPARC, but I have my eye on a couple of options in Los Angeles too where most shelters seem to be much farther from a no-kill status compared to our shelters here in Ventura County.

If you would like to get an email when we are opening you can sign up for that on our Reservations page. If you would like to volunteer (now or in the future) you can fill out the volunteer application. Word of mouth goes a long way, so if you’re excited about having a cat lounge in Ventura and know others who will be too, please tell them about us! Share our website, our Facebook page, and our Instagram account.

Thank you so much for your support!

Bottle-Feeding at Night

posted in: Education | 0

One of the hardest things about taking care of neonatal kittens, or bottle babies, is that they need to eat frequently, and they need to eat around the clock! For the first week that will mean every 2 hours. By the end of the second week, you should be able to stretch it out to every 2.5-3 hours during the night. Will you be a little sleep-deprived? Perhaps. Part of it depends on how much sleep you need and how quickly you’re able to go back to sleep in the middle of the night.

For my two current bottle babies, I’ve set up a system that works for me and gets me back in bed within 10 minutes of the alarm going off. As long as I can fall back asleep fairly easily, I’m not all that tired the next day. Am I a little tired? Sure! But it’s manageable.

Before I go to bed, I make sure I have everything ready. I heat up water and fill a thermos. I grab a small cup and a larger tumbler. I put some blue ice in an insulated bag and put 1-2 bottles in it (already filled with formula). When it’s time to feed, I pour some hot water in the small cup and put the bottle in it to warm the formula. While it’s warming I help each kitten go to the bathroom. Next, it’s feeding time. As long as you have kittens that are latching well, this doesn’t take long at all. Then I put the bottle back in the lunch bag, pour out the used water into the large tumbler, wipe off their faces, “potty” each kitten one more time, tell them they’re good kittens and that I love them, and go back to bed.

My nighttime feeding supplies

Of course, there are going to be times when it’s not this easy. If someone has a potty accident in their bed you’ll need to do some cleaning up. If someone isn’t latching quickly you’ll have to be patient and wait for them to remember what to do (more tips here from Kitten Lady). But when the kittens are eating well and otherwise healthy, middle of the night feeds don’t have to take too long!

So You Want to Foster Kittens?

posted in: Education, Fostering | 0

Most shelters will do some sort of foster training and orientation before they bring on new fosters. Because of the coronavirus and sheltering in place orders, most shelters are not able to do this now. But the need for kitten fosters is always present, now more than ever as fewer spay-neuter surgeries may be happening due to clinics operating at reduced hours.

The following is a list of instructional videos from Kitten Lady that you can watch to start learning how to be a kitten foster. When I took in my first litter of kittens, they were just found outside and I did not have a shelter to help me. I did as much research online as I could and tried to learn what to do (and what NOT to do) in order to save those four tiny lives. It worked. I have learned more since then but the basics in neonatal kitten care are still the same: keep them warm, keep them fed, and keep them eliminating!

Here are my suggested videos for an essential education in kitten fostering. There are plenty more videos to watch on her site and elsewhere on the Internet but these will get you started!

  1. Bottle Feeding
  2. Syringe Feeding
  3. Stimulating Kittens
  4. Diarrhea
  5. Constipation
  6. Fleas
  7. A comprehensive list of supplies

Your local shelter or veterinarian can help you with vaccinations, upper respiratory infections, and other medical issues. Rule of thumb: if you have a concern, reach out for help! Most shelters have a network of fosters who are passionate about saving kittens and are happy to help new fosters.