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'Tiny acts of grace' -- the fine art of kitten fostering

David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

LOS ANGELES — Oh, please, not another dead kitten.

My wife, Ikuko, and I exchanged looks. No words were necessary.

The roughly 1-week-old kitten we'd just picked up from a Los Angeles shelter was much smaller than we expected from the online photo, about the same size as our last foster kitty.

And that one, despite our best efforts, didn't survive. It never got the hang of bottle feeding and grew steadily weaker. After six days, we rushed it back to the shelter for veterinary care. It died a few hours later.

We'd successfully fostered about a dozen kittens before that. Losing one — well, statistically speaking, it was inevitable. About half of bottle-fed kittens don't make it. But knowing that doesn't make it any easier.

"Should we take it back?" I asked, gazing nervously at the fragile, bird-like creature, so new to the world, it could barely open its eyes.

 

"No," Ikuko answered. "Let's give it love."

So we bestowed the kitten with a name — Lupin. And we gave it love.

Fostering baby animals is hard, I won't sugarcoat it. You may be awake much of the night handling feedings. There'll be messes. You're constantly watching to make sure the little one isn't underfoot or in danger.

But every little milestone — first feeding, first step, first poop — is a tiny act of grace in an otherwise jaded world.

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