I’ve never been a cat person. Nor do I know anything about taking care of cats or watch those funny cats videos online. After volunteering at the Austin Animal Center for 5 months and receiving those SOS Please Help Adopt Kitten emails, I finally opened one of them. The third listing caught my eye. Four kittens for adoption – Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, and Strozzi. I gave myself a week to think it over, and bought a bunch of cat stuff from Amazon. After discussing it over with my roommate (who loves cats), we took a trip to the shelter.
Two hours later, we brought home not one kitten but all four. I figured, how hard could it be? It was hard.
We couldn’t find anything on Strozzi so we renamed the furriest kitten to Bach. I helped foster all four kittens for 7 weeks and it was a learning process. Here’s what I wish I knew about taking care of kittens.
Also the photo above is an ACTUAL photo of them. Not sure why I got some many questions if this was a photo of my kittens. The photo has been brightened but the kittens are not photoshopped in.
1. Designated area.
I bought a playpen with the intention of keeping the kittens separated from the rest of the home and Basil. You’re suppose to keep your pets separated from foster pets for the first week in case the fosters have any illnesses. But of course, the kittens had their own plans and climbed out of the playpen in five minutes. I then decided to move the playpen in the downstairs restroom and turn that into their new home.
From the photo above you can see the kittens followed me everywhere. Upstairs, downstairs, into the restroom – having an audience for 4 kittens watching you on the porcelain throne was interesting.
2. Introducing the litter box
We bought a simple litter box from Target and a box of Arm & Hammer Odor Control cat litter. The next morning when I opened the restroom room, I almost died. There was bloody diarrhea all over restroom walls, floor, and kittens. This happened three days in a row.
On the fourth day, I couldn’t take it anymore. I found one of Basil’s old crates in the garage – it was way too big for the kittens but at least it would keep them boxed in with nowhere else to go potty but the litter box. Thirty minutes after lunchtime, HALLELUJAH.
Waking up and coming downstairs and seeing beautiful, solid poops in the litter box literally made my day. #proudmom
3. Kitty litters are not all the same.
I tried all of them and they suck. Super smelly to the point where I would have to throw out the entire box every two days. You could smell the stench through my open windows. I was going through cat litter like nobodies business. Keep in mind, I did have 4 hungry kittens.
My neighbor was super nice to drop off some cat toys and told me her favorite cat litter. Fresh Results, a self clumping cat litter made of natural corncob for $5.99 at HEB. Seriously, the best stuff. Has a natural pine smell that suppresses the stinky smells. I only had to scoop every two days and change out the cat litter every week.
4. Kitty litter gets EVERYWHERE.
Especially if you have hardwood flooring, it’s a nightmare. The cat litter was scattered throughout my downstairs, on the carpet upstairs, and on my bed. I tried using pee pads to reduce the tracking, and bought one of those fancy non-tracking cat litter mats – no dice.
I came across the Modkat Litter Box while researching new litter boxes. They sent me a unit to try and I couldn’t be happier! Beethoven immediately jumped into the Modkat after I unboxed it. I’ve had the Modkat for 2 weeks now and I can’t smell any stinky litter, and there’s no scattered litter on the floor! I also love that the scoop hangs on the side of the litter box. I highly, highly recommend the Modkat if you have cats at home.
5. Different personalities
Every kitten has their own personality. Mozart loved sitting on my boyfriend’s shoulder and watching him do work on the computer. Bach enjoyed hanging out in my potted plants and digging them out. Chopin was the most playful and would tackle anyone that was nearby, while Beethoven was the gentle soul who just wanted belly rubs.
6. You’ll get scratched, and it’ll hurt
If you looked our legs, you’d think we went through some sort of war zone. My poor boyfriend’s legs were the worst since he worked from the downstairs dining table – optimal location for the kittens to treat his legs as a scratching post. For me, the kittens would claw up my pant legs whenever it was feeding time. I also suffered scratching wounds around my neck – they loved pawing at my shiny necklace. The deep scratch marks on the palm of my hand made my manicurist raise her eyebrows, and didn’t seem too convinced that I wasn’t intentionally hurting myself.
The kitties loved sticking their paws through my ripped jeans.
To prevent unwanted scratching, you must keep your kittens occupied and entertained. Luckily I had four of them to play, wrestle, tackle, and chase each other. If you only have one kitten, make sure you have the time to play and keep them entertained! I heard fish bowls are great entertainment until I caught Chopin trying to get Sashimi (my fish) out of the tank.
8. Used cat toys are the best
I bought a bunch of toys from Petco/Petsmart and they played with none of them. The kitties loved playing with this random fortune cookie, my lost hair ties, hair clips, and lip balms. I asked the neighbors for used cat toys and cat scratching posts and to my surprise, they loved them! Apparently kittens are attached to items scented with other cats, so ask your friends/neighbors for used toys instead of buying new.
Cherish these moments – the two to three hours of peace and quiet before the chaos starts up again. The kittens all found their favorite napping spots in the house – in my closet, buried in piles of clothes, in Basil’s bed, curled up next to Basil, and on my bed. But their favorite spot was when they discovered they could rip a hole underneath my couch, and crawl into the couch. RIP white leather couch. No hard feelings – I got a new microfiber one from my IKEA home makeover!
11. You get to watch them grow up
And there’s nothing more gratifying than watching your little ones grow up. From the first day they learned how to use the litter box, to when they discovered the power of crying for food and attention, to when they learned to groom themselves, developed personalities, and to when they leave home.
10. You’ll get attached.
But don’t let this stop you from fostering from your local shelter. It’s natural to get attached to the furry ones that you help take care of, whether it’s over a couple of days or weeks. I took tons of pictures from day one so I could pass them along to their permanent homes later on and for myself. Even started an Instagram for them!
11. Finding permanent homes.
Isn’t easy. I thought people would flock to their Instagram pictures and my Facebook posts. My last resort was Craigslist, which proved the most effective.
I met with every single person and family that was interested in adopting the kittens and invited them over to play and meet them. Mozart and Bach both went to a family of four, Chopin was adopted by a close friend, and I ended up adopting Beethoven!
From the first couple of days when we brought the kittens home I knew Beethoven was different. All of the kittens were sweet and cuddly but Beethoven made an extra effort to not scratch or claw. He would also nuzzle my face and lick my nose!
You’ll be seeing a lot more of Beethoven and Basil on their Instagram!
Looking to add a new furry friend to your home? Please check your local shelter! Adorable dogs and cats are dropped off every single day. Not ready for a commitment? Help foster! Any love that you can give is more than what they can receive at the shelter. Sometimes the dogs only get to go out to potty once a day. Feeling stressed from work? Volunteering at the shelter is a great way to relieve stress by playing with the cats or walking the dogs.