A very dog-like cat!

While my time, thoughts, and heart (and now lots of food!) were being gobbled up by Beans, the rest of the family was falling in love with Daisy. 

Daisy was a unique cat.  To describe it succinctly, she was very much like a dog!  And while we totally love our feline fosters, we are, at the core, dog people.  Daisy loved to fetch.  When a toy was tossed, she would dash after it and then bring it back!  After about 20 retrievals, she would plop down on the floor panting…just like a dog!  She also loved a good tummy rub.  When picked up, Daisy would flop loosely in our arms purring just as content as could be.  Watching the kids and my husband playing with her, and delighting in her, warmed my heart.

Daisy was 10 weeks old and well over the 2 pound weight necessary for a spay surgery.  She was keeping Beans company, however, while he gained weight through syringe feeding.  After three weeks of dedicated help, he was ready to try eating on his own again.  If he continued to play and grow for a week while eating on his own, they both could go back to the shelter to win the hearts of their forever families.  But they had already won our hearts. 

My husband could be heard saying every couple days, “if we ever adopted a cat, I would want it to be one just like Daisy.”  The kids agreed. 

I loved Daisy too, but personally felt super attached to Beans after nursing him back to health and growth.  The sound of John’s voice (the home inspector for the foster program at the Humane Society) saying that he had me pegged as a foster failure by the third case (and this was the third case!), echoed in my mind. 

Should we adopt Beans and Daisy?  I tried to imagine life with two kittens (and soon, cats) in the home.  Would we still be able to foster the next kittens or dogs who needed a helping hand and resting place on their way to adoption if we had more resident animals?  Their date of return was scheduled for December 27th.  We didn’t have long to decide. 

Daisy and Beans playing

I was still following the Humane Society of Huron Valley’s facebook page closely for news about our foster dog, Morgan when I noticed a fellow volunteer seeking a Siamese mix kitten.  This was the impetus our family needed to discuss the reality of adopting kittens.  We talked and decided that while we certainly loved these babies, we were ready to let them move on with their lives…and what better placement for our beloved Daisy than with an animal loving Humane Society volunteer?!  I sent Daisy’s picture and some of her story to the volunteer.  While Daisy was probably more Ragdoll than Siamese, she was still exactly what the volunteer was looking for.  Serendipitously, she intended to name her next white feline Daisy, after a former beloved pet!

So, syringe feeding is more difficult than I imagined…

I started separating Beans and Daisy for meals four times each day.  They started becoming a lot more time consuming.  And a lot more mental energy consuming! 

Daisy would polish off her meals with gusto.  Beans would lick his but not consume that much.  Agh!  I would put a little on his mouth and he would clean himself but then walk away.  He was still not gaining weight.  Additionally, he was slowing down a little.  He was not lethargic, but definitely of lower energy than Daisy or his former self.  My time with the kittens became consumed with consumption (good thing we have four kids who were still available to play and cuddle!).  My time away from the kittens became consumed with the worry about Beans.  It was time to syringe feed.

Syringe feeding seemed like it would be easy.  Insert about 15cc of wet food into the kitten 4 times each day. 

Complications I now know about syringe feeding that I didn’t then:

  1. It is more difficult to get the wet food into the syringe than one would think.  Some wet foods are softer and easier to suction up than others (Royal Canin’s Mother and Baby Cat formula and Recovery are the easiest to suction).  But regardless of how soft and juicy it starts out, once you have suctioned from a can a couple times, it becomes tricky.  I was spooning little bit by little bit into syringes, sometimes even resorting to getting it in there with my fingers (okay, gross, I know! And the smell of wet cat food on the hands takes a few washes to remove, for sure!).  Daisy usually got the remains of the canned food that I couldn’t get into a syringe for Beans.
  2. Kittens do not always cooperate with being syringe fed.  Beans was not interested in this feeding style AT ALL!  He would not open his mouth easily.  I had to insert a finger into the corner of his mouth to get him to open up and then slip the syringe in.  He would try to run away and play at each opportunity.  I started setting him up on a stool while feeding him to reduce his escapes and, while it did reduce them, it definitely did not prevent them.  Most of the resources I found suggested swaddling the kitten for easier administration, but I think that must work best for younger kittens, because Beans was out of his “purrito” in seconds! I needed four hands! While the kids were always eager to cuddle and play with the kittens, they were less excited about helping with the litter box or the now arduous task of feeding.
  3. Syringe feeding is MESSY!  Wet food does not always come out of a syringe in a nice, even fashion.  When Beans had a bite that was too big, it would dribble down onto the floor, over his chin, often on me…  When he felt done (which was usually before we reached the amount suggested by his vet), he became messier.  When wet food smears dry, they are crusty and difficult to remove, from fur, from clothes, even from tile floors.  I tried to be deliberate about tidying up after a syringe feeding session, but there was always mess somewhere! 
  4. Even with a measured syringe, it is difficult to know exactly how much food a kitten is consuming.  Food often dribbles down and sometimes there is air between the chunks of wet food in the syringe, so it can be a guessing game to know precisely how much nutrition a kitten received even when one of the main points of syringe feeding is to know!  Between feedings, I would commit myself to measuring carefully, reducing air by packing the syringe tightly, and then feeding so slowly that there wouldn’t be any waste.  But Beans would sometimes have other ideas! 
  5. So many extra steps are involved in syringe feeding.  I needed to help Beans eat (this usually took about 10 minutes), then clean up (another 5 minutes), then weigh Beans, then cap the wet food and store it in the refrigerator, then clean the syringe.  This extra time was in addition to cleaning the litter box, changing the bedding, freshening their water, and playing with the kittens (mandatory!).  I was spending more time with these fosters than I had with our other ones. 

Beans never grew to love syringe feeding.  As a consequence, I didn’t either.  If he had been gulping down the food eagerly, I think I would have been just as eager to offer it to him.  But I felt like I was torturing him and I started dreading the syringe sessions.  Of course, there were times when syringe feeding Beans went well.  Hey, maybe it went well more often than it didn’t even!  But it definitely wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

Syringe feeding redeemed itself though…Beans was growing!  With the appropriate nutrition, Beans was packing on the weight.  He was also full of energy again!  Within a week of starting syringe feeding, Beans was back to the weight and energy perfect for his age.  I was thrilled!

But I was also second guessing myself.  Without the visit with genius vet Dr. Julie, when would I have noticed that Beans wasn’t gaining weight?  I never would have considered that a healthy kitten would just not eat enough to thrive.  I was impressed by Dr. Julie’s knowledge and expertise, but also embarrassed by my own ignorance and inexperience. 

The greatest uncertainty of all crept in:  Am I doing this right?

Something is wrong with Beans

After an enjoyable couple weeks with the foster kittens Daisy and Beans, I took them to the shelter vet for their 6 week vaccinations (they were now nearly 7 weeks old).  While there, the vet noticed that while Daisy had gained about half a pound in her time with us, Beans had not gained any weight.  This news was surprising to me.  We saw Beans eating along with Daisy at each feeding.  He was a lively and playful kitten.  How was he not gaining weight?  Foster guilt (a feeling with which I would become more familiar case by case) crept in when the vet asked me to estimate how much Beans alone was eating each day and if I had weighed him in the past couple weeks.  I only knew how much the two kittens ate together and had not been keeping track of their weights. 

A mysterious illness?

I was convinced that something was terribly wrong with him.  Did he have a parasite consuming all his extra calories away?  Did he have some metabolic disease?  (I would later wile away quite a few hours snuggling Beans and researching what could be plaguing him.)

Dr. Julie weighs in

Then the vet, Dr. Julie, explained to me that some kittens just do not naturally eat enough to gain weight and need some extra attention and encouragement to do so.  She sent me home with several different kinds of kitten food, including some cat junk food, the cheaper kinds of cat food that some cats prefer.  Dr. Julie advised feeding Beans separate from Daisy and keeping track of how much he ate.  If he wasn’t eating at least half a can of food each day, I was supposed to start syringe feeding him. 

The plan

Syringe feeding is basically using a syringe (no needle) gently inserted into the kitten’s mouth and inserting a little bit of wet food to get them eating.  Syringe feeding can manually deliver some nutrition and often kickstart a kitten into eating more on his/her own. Included in our supplies was a small kitchen scale for weighing Beans.  I was instructed to separate him from his sister while eating, monitor how much he ate and track his weight daily. 

Homeward bound, I was determined to get that baby to GROW! 

The break between fosters

After Shadow and Midnight were lice-free and back at the shelter, we had an empty house (okay, well, not exactly.  We still had six people, a dog, and a bearded dragon!  But no foster animals!).  After about 24 hours, the kids started asking about when we could foster next.  I was eager to jump back in as well. 

A foster request email arrived!  There were two kittens needing a simple growth foster period; they had been weaned and were needing a place to grow for a few weeks before they were old enough/big enough to be sterilized and ready for adoption.  Yes!

We picked up the two kittens excitedly and opened their carrier in the master bathroom, where they would be spending their time (please, please let all the bleach I used have killed all the feline lice!).  I had told the kids that the kittens would need some time and space to warm up to us, much like Shadow and Midnight.  I was wrong!  These two, one a little white fluffball female, the other a white and tabby male, were the friendliest, most attention seeking kittens we had ever met!  They immediately ran up to us.  They wanted to play with whatever toys were on hand, get whatever pets were offered, and then curl up in any warm lap!

Andrew and Mae had named Shadow and Midnight, so it was Dane and Nora’s turn to name a foster.  Dane picked Daisy for the white female and Nora named the tabby male Beans.  These two looked so different.  Were they really part of the same litter or just two similarly aged kittens paired together through circumstance?  Who were their parents and what events had led the two of them to our house?  Who had taught these babies that humans were the next best thing after a mama cat?!  Had someone bottle fed them or snuggled them endlessly?  Beans and Daisy came with their own set of unknowns.

We were so happy to have such sweet, playful kittens to end our first foster break.  The house had felt empty.  And now it was full once more.  Beans and Daisy seemed like just a fun, easy foster need (it felt almost like cheating to have this volunteer work be so fun and easy!), but it would turn out to have its own challenges just like those before…

Learn more about volunteer opportunities at the Humane Society of Huron Valley in Ann Arbor, Michigan! Or search your local animal shelter and see what you can do to help…

The most difficult part about fostering animals

For me, the most difficult part about fostering is the uncertainty.  I am such a Type A, planner personality, so all the unknown variables involved in fostering can be preoccupying. 

Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. We don’t know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don’t know

Pema Chödrön

A few of the common unknowns:

  1. What each animal will be like.  I often do not know much about an animal before I accept it for foster.  I rarely know the history.  Where did he/she come from?  What were his/her experiences?  What are his/her preferences?  What set up and routine would be best?  In the case of dogs, do they get along with other dogs and children and how sure of that can I be?
  2. When to call the vet.  Many of the animals we care for have some medical need, from diarrhea to eye infections to failure to grow to the sneezes.  It can be difficult to know when an animal needs intervention or when they are just having a symptom due to stress of a new environment.  Also, most animals need a vet check and/or vaccinations during their stay with us.  We typically do not schedule these visits until pretty close to the necessary dates and the dates/times offered are limited.  Anticipating these visits but not knowing when they will occur is an unknown that messes with my obsessive sense of order!  During deliveries, if anything deviates from the textbook norm (as it often does!), it can be hard to know when the animals will need intervention versus observation.  I do not want to waste the resources of the shelter or stress an animal with travel unnecessarily, especially as I gain knowledge and expertise, but I prefer to err on the side of caution with our more fragile fosters.     
  3. When a pregnant animal will deliver.  I like to be nearby when a mama cat or dog delivers its babies.  There can be complications that can be averted by a careful assistant and many animals appreciate the company.  But knowing when an animal will deliver is tricky.  Not all mamas follow the classic nesting/not eating patterns.  And there is rarely accurate dating from the pregnancy confirming radiograph.  I have spent many hours researching animal deliveries and the signs of impending labor and I am still left in anticipation each time we have a pregnant cat or dog in the house. 
  4. When the animal will be ready for adoption.  While there’s often an anticipated return date for an animal when I pick them up for foster, the exact date varies depending on the animal’s heath or growth.  Sometimes the animal will be adopt out of foster, so they go when a potential adopter picks them.  I like to fully prepare for an animal’s departure, and prepare the children, so it can be tricky not knowing when that will be.
  5. When the animal will be adopted.  After a foster cat or dog has stolen our hearts, each day they wait at the shelter to be united with their forever family feels like, well, forever to us.  The puppies and kittens tend to go quickly, and then we wonder who has them and what their lives are like.  The mamas are sometimes there a while, and we wonder when they will be picked and by whom.  We obsessively track the daily Facebook postings for news of their adoptions and often visit them while they are there, but the waiting and not knowing strains our hearts. 

These are just a few of the many unknowns surrounding a foster experience.  While they are probably a contributor to the excitement of fostering, they can also add to the challenge.  I think each foster family has a different perspective on the most rewarding and the most difficult parts about fostering, but for my own Type A personality, the unpredictability is the most difficult!

5 things I didn’t know about fostering

  1.  Every animal is different and requires something different of me. 

I thought that once I had my “cat setup” and “dog setup” figured out, and I ironed out the kinks in our arrangements, I could just use the same format for each foster.  I thought I would never devote as much time and mental energy to subsequent fosters as I did to the first.  As it turns out, I am constantly problem solving to figure out which scenario works best for each individual animal. 

How high of a gate does each dog require (we have fostered some really athletic dogs!). Where will they be the happiest (quiet room to themselves or in the middle of the action?).  What is causing this diarrhea and how can I make it go away?!  What food do they like?  What kinds of interactions do they like?  Can I trust them to interact with the kids?  Where will they choose to deliver babies?  How much exercise do they need?  Where is the best place to put the food/water bowl and the litter box? 

Livie with a foster dog, Gerralynn.
  • 2. The mess is constant.

I have cleaned up SO MUCH POOP!  Foster dogs do not come with a housebroken guarantee.  Actually, a foster dog is much more likely to have some accidents than not.  And when the accidents are diarrhea…  Needless to say, I own a steam cleaner and put it to regular use. 

Even cute, innocent kittens are messy to the extreme.  They love playing in the litter box, wrestling each other and spraying litter EVERYWHERE!  They do not always master the skill of eliminating in the litter box right off the bat and there is often poop in surprising places (really, the bathtub?!).  Much like young children, they leave their toys everywhere!

Puppies are probably the messiest creatures alive!  They each poop frequently and large litters of puppies can make a poop disaster quickly.  I often deep clean the puppy pen only to return an hour later to poop everywhere (and of course they want to run through it to get to me and then show their love by jumping all over me!). 

Sometimes foster animals are sick and quality cleaning is of the essence during their foster period.  Linens must be washed in hot water or discarded, bowls need daily disinfecting, waste must be disposed of immediately. 

The laundry!  The paper towels!  The repainting of rooms (yes, you read that correctly!)!

Prior to fostering, I didn’t know how much of the time I spent in this endeavor would be cleaning.

  • 3.  It’s a whole family affair.

While I was eager to begin fostering myself, and hoped my family would enjoy it and take pride in it as well, I didn’t realize how much it would affect the whole family.  The foster animals become part of the household and family pretty quickly and our routines adjust with them. 

Kittens in the bathroom?  That’s where the kids head after school to visit.  That’s where they want to bring their friends when they come over to play.

Puppies downstairs?  When can we take them outside to play?! 

Dog in the house?  Let’s all go out for a walk. 

What’s that smell?!  Watch out for poop!  Don’t step in it AGAIN! 

We have all had joys and frustrations.  We have all shared in the labor and pride of a job well done.  We have all reached our limits.  And, of course, each person makes a bond with certain animals as they come and go.  Each of us has had our hearts broken by several animals that considered us theirs.  We have all loved and lost. 

The family. Devon (me!), Mae, Dane, Andrew, Nora, and Ryan
photo cred: Melanie Reyes
  • 4.  I fall in love with each and every one.

I didn’t realize before fostering that I could develop a deep bond with soooooo many living creatures!  I thought I could keep emotions more or less out of the equation as I labored for the benefit of animals as a stopover to their true home.  I know each and every time that this is not an animal that is mine; not an animal that I am even considering living with forever.  But I think with each new foster I have, during the course of their stay, daydreamed about what life would be like if they stayed.  What if I just adopted this one?  Or that one?  The one with sad eyes that took forever to win over?  The one that sleeps best in my lap?  The one that wags all over when I walk in a room?  The one that constantly looks up at me on walks?  The one that purrs like a motorboat when I scratch the spot?  The one I nursed back to health through many long days and nights? 

I knew I loved animals.  I didn’t know my heart could be so full and so broken so many times.

  • 5. It is sad and happy to return each animal.

I could not have anticipated the feeling of returning an animal from foster to the shelter to prepare for adoption. 

Each time, my heart is heavy.  I have known from the beginning that our time together was temporary, but the animal has not.  I feel like I am betraying them.  As I hand over the leash or the carrier, I always have second thoughts.  Am I doing the right thing?  Is it wrong to love them and leave them?  Is it worse if they never knew that love or care?  How will they feel in the coming days?  No, I know and I shouldn’t let my own thoughts torture me.  The moment I turn my back on them and walk away is devastating. 

But then there’s some happiness too that I also could not have anticipated.  It feels good to have completed a job and to know that I have done it well.  Here is an animal ready for its forever home whereas before, for one reason or another, it was not.  I was the link between the not ready and the ready and I know that the animal was well cared for and well loved in between.  I feel pride in that.

And then I go home and clean (clean like crazy!) the areas where that animal lived.  Then there is a freshness, a newness, to the space and it is so clear that it is a space waiting for the next animal in need, the next foster. 

Learn more about fostering opportunities at the Humane Society of Huron Valley.

Shadow and Midnight are adopted!

Shadow and Midnight

The kids and I went back to the shelter to visit with our first feline fosters, Shadow and Midnight, several times during their stay there.  They were stationed in the kitten room in a cage together.  They looked a little bewildered, but would stick out a paw to play.  There were many kittens in the cages on either side of them, and below them (there are two rows of kitten cages in the kitten room).  Adopters would have their choice of kitten colors and temperaments.  Would these slightly older and more shy kittens stand a chance of snagging an adopter in this sea of cute kittens?! 

After a two week shelter stay, Shadow won the hearts of his adopters!  I was checking the shelter’s facebook page nightly and I was so excited to share the news of his adoption with the kids. 

As the days passed, I worried for Midnight.  How was she doing all alone without her brother?  At three weeks, she had been in her cage at the shelter as long as she had been at our home.  One day, when I was at the shelter volunteering, I went by to visit her and saw an orange adoption pending card on her cage!  She had been picked and was going home!  The next day, the facebook page announced her adoption; it was official!  The feeling when a foster is adopted is amazing!  I knew that we were one, very important, step on their way from homeless to loved. 

Goodbye

“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

After two lice treatment dips, one dewormer dose (went about as well as the lice dips which is to say the kittens didn’t love it, but it was easier than expected!), and countless hours playing and cuddling with our first feline fosters, it was time to say goodbye.  I felt like I was betraying them as I loaded Shadow and Midnight into the carrier they had arrived in almost three weeks earlier (with fresh bedding, lice-less, of course!).  They were more social, chunkier kittens (and parasite free!) after their time with us, but I worried they would be terrified at the shelter and maybe have trouble winning over adopters.  What if someone didn’t know that Shadow loved to be scratched under his chin?  Or that Midnight needed some quiet time exploring her space before she felt comfortable enough for pets?

I set their carrier on the bench in the intake area.  I said my goodbyes (a brief one through the carrier door since I had known this moment was coming and had said my actual goodbyes back at the house).  I went over to the main shelter entrance and signed in as a volunteer.  Working for the benefit of all the shelter animals gave me time to process the emptiness I felt.  I definitely did not want these two kittens to be mine forever (I wanted to keep fostering!), but I felt a pain and guilt that was unexpected.  I had known from the beginning that I would be loving these babies for a set amount of time and then I would bring them back, improved and having known love, to be adopted.  So why was I so sad?  I realized that while I had always known the plan, the kittens had not…and that betrayal of their trust and love in return was what was twisting a knife in my heart.   

Later that day, I cleaned out the bathroom where Shadow and Midnight had lived.  I washed the bowls and toys, washed the linens with hot water.  I wiped down the counters and mopped the floor.  (And then I got down on my hands and knees with a paper towel and got the little bits of litter out of EVERY CORNER of that space…so much litter!)  An hour later, when I was done, I looked around the space with mixed feelings.  The room looked empty and I was missing our kitties…but it also looked ready for some new fosters!

Following up with Morgan

I continued to feel super guilty about having taken Morgan back to the shelter.  I had wanted to offer her a safe haven, a place of peace in which to heal.  She was my very first canine foster and having it turn out so poorly made me question if I could ever successfully foster a dog.  The more I reflected on what I could have done to make things go more smoothly long term with Morgan, the more I was drawing a blank.  Maybe Ann’s reassuring words were right:  they can’t all work out perfectly; we just have to keep trying and hoping for ones that do.

Morgan at the shelter

The next time I went to the shelter, Morgan was in a kennel in adoptables.  Her surgery site was mostly healed and she didn’t have her cone on.  Maybe those few days and two nights of being with me constantly had helped the initial healing; maybe her coup of Livie had kept her busy enough to prevent further self-destruction.  Small victories?!  She was happy to see me, but she probably would have been happy to see any kind volunteer. 

I tracked the Facebook page for the shelter, hoping each day that Morgan’s name would join the ranks of adopted animals.  But day after day, it wasn’t there.  For a few weeks, Morgan was in her kennel when I would visit the shelter.  But then one day, she wasn’t.  I was hopeful that she was back in foster care being the only dog showered with love and attention (and full access to the couch!).  I was scared that she had gotten sick though, and was back in isolation.  I was new to the fostering scene and didn’t want to bother anyone with my questions about a dog that I had not been able to successfully foster.  I learned the lesson quickly:  no matter how long (or short) an animal is with me, they leave with a piece of my heart forever. 

Things go wrong…

The next morning, I walked Livie and Morgan and then set about preparing the children’s snacks and lunches for the day.  I could tell the dynamic with Morgan had changed.  Instead of wandering around the house on her own exploring everything like the day before, she was now right at my flank, matching my every move.  She was comfortable and was making herself at home and after our night of cuddling together on the couch, she was taking her position as my dog.  Livie was unsure about things.  By my side was her spot.  But Morgan was older and was shooting Livie looks that clearly told her to back away.  Livie stayed in the doorway of the kitchen and watched. 

Morgan followed me upstairs and waited on the bathroom rug while I took my shower and waited in my doorway as I dressed for the day.  She followed me to wake the kids and to prepare breakfast.  All day, Morgan was by my side and Livie gave her some distance. 

Then, that evening, after our walk, Morgan was following me from the front door to the mud room to hang up the leashes.  Livie was right beside her.  In a flash, Morgan turned to the side and bit Livie on the neck.  Livie squealed and ran away up the stairs.  Morgan stayed right by me while I hung the leashes.  Ryan asked what had happened and when I told him, he went to check on Livie.  She had a bite wound on her neck that was about 2 cm long and of uncertain depth, though it was bleeding profusely.  Ryan cleaned it and we had a long talk. 

Poor Livie!

If Morgan was wanting to be the dominant dog in the home, would Livie now back down and stay clear?  Would Morgan bite again?  What would happen if one of the children was walking between the two dogs?  I knew that we weren’t the right foster fit for Morgan.  She wanted to be someone’s only dog.  She wanted to sleep on the couch, be right by someone’s side, be adored and showered with love (I mean, who doesn’t?!).  She had wonderful house manners and someone without a dog wouldn’t need to crate her at night or when they left the house.  I sent the email to Ann.  I felt like a failure.  But I knew that taking Morgan back to the shelter and hoping she got a better foster fit was the right thing for her and Livie.  Poor Livie.  She was sitting on the landing of the stairs refusing to be anywhere near Morgan. 

I spent the night on the couch again with Morgan.  I stroked her fur.  She slept peacefully. 

In the morning, I took Livie to the vet where she got stitched up with a drain inserted.  Then I took Morgan to the shelter.  The front desk staff welcomed her enthusiastically and allowed her to hang out with them for the day.  Ann assured me that she would find another foster for Morgan, no problem.  I left relieved but still feeling regretful that our first dog foster had not worked out.  Which signs had I missed?  What could I have done differently?  How could I tweak my dog set up in the future to ensure this never happened again?  Could I ever host another foster dog with confidence?

Livie was happy to have me to herself again.  She was exhausted after having had to work out the power dynamics with our house guest and was happy to get all the pets to herself. 

And we still had two kittens, Shadow and Midnight, who needed love and care…and another lice treatment dip soon!