So my all-time high of six cats and a dog, this past August, kept me constantly shaking my head and wondering how people do it. There are people who have that many pets — and more!
At first, the kittens had to be bottle fed every four hours and it took about half an hour to feed them. I quickly managed to stretch the night to six hours, so I could get something of a normal sleep. (Except that I am an eight or nine hour person!) Just about everything else fell by the wayside.
Even after they started on solid food, I was (still am when possible) feeding them four times a day. The week I was home (thank god) from work, this was a typical day:
6am — get up and feed kittens, change their litter
7am — feed adult cats (three different locations, two different kinds of food), scoop litter (x3)
8am — play with/snuggle kittens (socialization)
8.30am — wake up Bella (dog), go for walk
9am — feed Bella
9.30am — wash everybody’s dishes
noon — feed kittens
12.30pm — walk Bella
2pm — play with kittens
4pm — walk Bella
6pm — feed kittens and Bella
7pm — feed adult cats
8pm — play with kittens
8.30pm — wash everybody’s dishes
10pm — feed kittens, walk Bella
10.30pm — give kittens a bottle to fill them up a little bit more
11pm — go to bed!
In between I had to shower and feed myself, do housework, run errands.
And then there were the days, before and after that week, that I was going to work. So everyone (kittens and Bella) had to be packed up each morning. And settled/set up when we got to work!
Of course I had some help. My cat-sitters (and their parents) were a huge help, even taking the middle of the night feeding when we all went to the cottage. And my co-workers were happy to help, with the kittens and with giving Bella attention/walks.
Through all of it, I worried every day that the adult cats were being neglected. Especially Storm. My guys will come and demand affection when they need it. And they mostly come for a cuddle at bedtime. Storm didn’t have those routines so I tried really hard to give her some quality time every day as well.
This is in no way meant to discourage anyone. The kittens are adorable and rewarding. But I went in with my eyes closed (though, in fairness, my foster coordinator tried to warn me) and anyone interested in fostering bottle-fed kittens needs to realize how much work it is.
Even now, when it’s much easier — no bottles and they eat kibble between meals — I still feel like I’m constantly opening cans and washing dishes.
Of course, no one has to foster kittens. There are plenty of adults who need to find their way to a forever home. They are generally much less labour-intensive. Most of them just want a quiet place to sit and sun, some quality food, and a few toys to play with.