I say it often, but, only because it’s true. Kiwi is a pretty high maintenance, sometimes all-around difficult little animal.
Last year, when Phil and I came back to Michigan for a visit, my friend Jeanette looked after Kiwi. We thought that it might be good for her to stay at Jeanette’s so that she could keep a pretty constant eye on her. It also provided an opportunity for Kiwi to have a little play date with another cat, Jeanette’s very friendly cat B.B.
Understandably, Kiwi didn’t really care for this idea. Fair enough–I can understand how being in a new place would be stressful. But, did you need to pee all over her apartment, Kiwi? (And did you need to keep up this habit during the following months?) Yeah, that was embarrassing. I sent my friend a check to cover the cleaning fees, but I still to this day feel awful about it.
On top of the mess, Jeanette ended up resolving to take Kiwi back to our apartment so that she could be most comfortable. This, of course, required frequent drop-ins to feed Wiz, clean out her litter box, socialize and play with her. Kiwi likes to play and cuddle–both exclusively on her own terms, of course. Because of Kiwi’s need for attention, I think Jeanette ended up staying over at our place for a night or two.
It’s strange because she wasn’t always like this. Back in 2009, while Kiwi was living with me at my parents’ house, she loved interacting with new visitors and while she did play a little rough with my parents’ elderly cat and dog, she still got along and interacted with them.
At some point in the last year or so, though, she’s become pretty anti-social. Phil’s theory is that the cleaning crews with vacuum’s have traumatized her. She hides when people come over (even if she has met them before) and she seems to get very flustered when she’s introduced to a new animal. While I think a little brother or sister would be good for her, all of the above has made it difficult for me to even consider getting another pet.
But recently, I’ve been feeling a strong need to do some good. I volunteer from time to time, but, I find that I often get handed a clipboard or a sign and end up collecting signatures, selling T-shirts, directing people where to go during events or doing administrative-like work. Not that these things aren’t important, but I actually want to interact with and be a part of the team that physically cares for people or animals. I’ve never fostered a pet before and I thought that this might be a good time for that.
That’s why the other day when I saw that Best Friends LA desperately needed foster families for a bunch of kittens who were recently born, I got excited. Phil was a little nervous about caring for another animal at first, especially with Kiwi having so many of her own little issues, but he eventually signed off on it. Phil likes to act like he doesn’t care either way when it comes to small, adorable animals, but I know he’s got a big place in his heart for all of them.
It only took a day after I filled out the application before BFLA contacted me and asked if I wanted to look after a four-month old kitten for a few months, until it’s time for him to be neutered. So yesterday, after work, I went and picked him up.
He had only been at the Best Friends LA headquarters for one day and it was immediately clear to me that this little guy was going to need a lot of TLC. He is the tiniest kitty I had ever seen, small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. He has a little issue with his eye in which goop will collect in his tear duct and make it hard for him to keep his eye open.
Apparently, this was the “reason” a man living in South L.A. decided to take the tiny kitten from his son and “throw him over a fence.” Luckily, the kid who was caring for the kitten kept a close watch on the little guy and did what he could to contact someone who could help. Because the shelter was going to put him down he was brought to Best Friends. (I was told that shelters euthanize all small animals with any kind of infection.)
The tiny kitten also had had fleas probably since he was born, causing him to show symptoms of Anemia.
Xander staying warm in a “sweater” that Saralyn and I “made” for him with a sock
It took awhile for Destiny, the person in charge of the kitten foster program, to go over all of the instructions I would need to follow in order to ensure that he was properly cared for. I was happy that my friend Saralyn came along to help me keep it all straight.
-Keep his eye clean of goop with a warm wash cloth
-He doesn’t have his immunizations and he hasn’t been dewormed, yet. Keep him away from Kiwi.
-Give him liquid vitamins with a syringe
-Keep an eye on his stool. If it’s liquidy, mix the special powder she gave me with his food.
-Make sure he always has food nearby and that he’s eating often. If he’s not eating, feed him a couple of drops of corn syrup.
-He’s anemic so make sure he stays warm. A heating pad in his crate will help him to stay comfortable and healthy.
-He’s really fluffy and recovering from fleas so he needs to be brushed often.
-He’s too little to wander around by himself.
BFLA had been calling him Moe, but I decided before I left the headquarters that I was going to call him Xander after my favorite “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” character. I thought this was quite fitting–he’s a scruffy little guy who struggles, but he’s got an incredible story arc ahead of him. He doesn’t have any kind of magical abilities and so he has to fight harder than the rest of the Scooby gang to slay demons. There’s also that whole eyepatch storyline/eye issue thing to take into consideration. What’s funny is that after I made this decision, I saw a little of four kittens who were named Buffy, Angel, Spike and Oz. Destiny said that because he’s a loner, when Xander comes back to be neutered, he can be kept with the other Scoobies.
Kiwi didn’t even get close to Xander, but it’s clear that she’s afraid of him. She’s been hiding accordingly. This is probably a good thing, seeing that we need to keep them apart until after the little guy gets all of his shots.
This morning when I woke up to check on him, Kiwi kind of lurked in the shadows and watched me handle him, feed him and play with him. She cried out to me when I picked up one of her toys and rattled it in front of him. I may have imagined it, but I think that her eye twitched when he tried to make a dive in her water bowl. I think somebody’s just a bit jealous.
I plan to pay a little extra special attention to her so that she doesn’t feel so left out.
Phil and I have been cuddling him lots. Because he does like to be warm, I like to hold him at my chest and kind of wrap him in my shirt. He curls up and goes right to sleep.
Phil’s caption: “Tiny Animal perches on my shoulder like a sidekick pet.”
Because Phil works from home, he’s keeping an eye on Xander. Phil has to make a living, so he can’t give the little guy his undivided attention, but it does mean that Xander won’t be by himself very often. If all of his Facebook photos and Twitter updates are any indicator, I’d say that Phil is already in love.