Tuesday, November 15, 2016

3 tips for hissy, spitty kitties

Eartha the foster kitten in a towel

This sweet face belongs to Eartha Kit-Kat--a 6-week-old kitten that's bunking in the Menagerie until the middle of December. My task during that time: To transform this hissy and spitty kitten into a trusting and family-friendly cat that's ready to move into a home without a lot of hassle or stress.

I'll be honest: This is a tall order.

Little Eartha grew up in a feral cat colony. Her mother was afraid of humans, and she passed that on to her wee little baby. So when she came to me, Eartha was terrified of me.

This isn't behavior we can allow to continue, as it might keep her from getting adopted. As her foster mother, I have to make this little one trust.

Here's my 3-step plan.

1. Kitty goes where the humans go. 

Eartha is most comfortable in her nest home base. But it order to learn more about how wonderful humans are, she needs to meet more humans. And that means she needs to go to the places I go.

Eartha Kit in my lap in the car

Eartha has been to the grocery store, to the shelter, to the pet food store and in the neighborhood. Where I go, she goes. I can't say that she enjoys these trips, but they are important for her. She needs to get out and meet people. These trips are vital.

2. Kitty has a safe space.

While I am exposing Eartha to a lot of new things, I want her to feel safe everywhere she goes. That's why I use a sack when I take her out. This sack keeps her close to my body, so she's warm, and it allows her to bury her head if she's overwhelmed.

Black cat in her sack

3. Kitty goes from hand to hand.

Who doesn't love to pet a little kitten? And who wouldn't love to help a kitten in need? Nobody, that's who. And every nice person that Eartha meets is an ally of mine. They all help me with coaching.

Eartha kitten in a towel

I have no qualms about pushing my kitten off on people I meet when I'm in the store or the pet shop. They pet her and cuddle her and love her and noodle her. She doesn't purr with all that attention, but it seems like a matter of time.

Having a foster kitten is a big responsibility. Make no mistake. But it's so wonderful to make a big difference in the life of a teeny kitten. All of the work I am doing can help to ensure that she has a bright future in front of her. And that's wonderful work, right?

Love to hear your thoughts on foster kitten work. Have any readers done this work? Any tips for me? Share them in the comments.

And have you signed up for my dog cookie giveaway? It's going on now!

Enter and you could get a big bag of treats like this!


  1. a good plan. two of the girls earlier this summer were the same way. and they wanted NOTHING to do with mom. so every time canned food was served, she sat on the floor with the dish almost in her lap. if they wanted the canned stuff, they had to deal with her. she would slowly pet them as they are and they learned to get over themselves. and they were picked up and carried around too...

  2. Yes, I've fostered but it never occurred to me to take the feral kitten out of the house. I invited people over for playdates, but really not enough. Lots of treats were used. Unfortunately she stayed shy but her adoptive family loves her anyway. I'd love to hear how you are doing with Eartha. Great name, by the way!

  3. This is a great approach with fostering a feral. Eartha is adorable.