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Saturday, July 30, 2011

About our foster care

At our Love Kuching foster home, we aim to provide the best care possible for the rescue cats in our custody. Here are some of the aspects of our foster care that we adhere to to ensure quality of care for the kitties!


Threshold 

Our foster lounge has 3 pens: the Suite, suitable for older kittens or for an adult cat; the Penthouse, suitable for younger kittens, and the ICU, suitable for very young kittens. We also have a kindle of free-roaming kittens that get to roam the entire home. Our ideal threshold of total cats fostered in each kindle should be lower than 6 per, ideally at 3 to 4. This makes our ideal maximum threshold at 12 to 16 cats. In order to prevent overcrowding, stress and spread of disease we maintain this threshold strictly.

For sick cats that need intensive foster care through medication, our threshold is at 3-5. This means that we will not take in cats that need intensive care if the threshold of sick cats is already at 5. Also, we will not accept any new rescues during the time that the sick cats harbour viral or bacterial infections that can be spread.

We quarantine airborne (mainly cat flu') disease-carrying kittens by using large carriers covered with blankets. If the number of kittens cannot be contained in a carrier the pen they are housed in will be covered in blankets.

All new arrivals are checked for fleas and mites upon arrival and showered with pyrethins-based flea shampoo and their ears groomed with pyrethins-based ear cleaner. If any rescue cat shows incidence of fleas or mites we place all the rescue kittens immediately on Revolution Pink which is always available on standby, to prevent outbreak.



Hygiene

All the cat boarding equipment - pens, toys, litter boxes, surrounding walls and floor - are washed or cleaned with either bleach or hospital disinfectant or both. Where there are sick cats disinfection is carried out more often as many strains of bacteria can stay in the environment of the cats' living area long after the cat recovered.

We wash our hands after handling kittens that are sick or their boarding equipment with hospital-grade hand soap containing chlorhexadine. We also provide a hand-sanitiser in our foster lounge for visitors to use. Our main cat-nurse Elaine wears an apron and gloves when handling kittens for medication that can be disinfected after use.



Diet

At Love Kuching we do not compromise on healthy, species-suitable food for the sake of price. Thus we use the most cost-effective grain-free high-protein options when it comes to solid cat food. We feed mainly Solid Gold Indigo Moon dry food and Addiction Brushtail or Nutripe Chicken wet food. Fish or seafood based food is usually avoided as it is highly allergenic to cats, but it is used to tempt sick cats to eat or for new arrivals who are stressed and anorexic at the beginning when ascertained they are not allergic to seafood.

Kittens that are orphans needing milk are hand-fed with KMR milk and the same brand of milk is also used in the partial weaning process.




Cat litter and litter boxes

We use only organic cat litter, that is, no clay, no silica. Our main cat litter is pine pellets which is healthy for cats, cost-effective and deodorising. Each pen has its own litter tray and within the foster lounge there is also a litter box for the free-roaming kittens to use. The free-roaming kittens are also allowed to use our own cats' litter box in the kitchen. The litter boxes are sprinkled with baking soda to contain litter odours. The litter boxes are scooped daily and pens containing kittens having diarrhoea have their litter boxes washed and changed daily as well, otherwise the litter boxes are washed and changed every 2 to 3 days.



Feline pheromones

We use a Feliway diffuser in the foster lounge to minimise stress that is common in a cattery-setting. It also makes cats feel more at home and with stress minimised, promotes healthier eating, drinking and toilet habits.

We also allow the free roaming cats to lie on the couch and strop on our cats' cat condo as well as the kitten scratching post so as for them to leave their scent and feel even more at home.



Veterinary care

Our veterinary care for rescues is two-fold. We believe in pharmaceuticals - antibiotics included if unavoidable. Usually we avoid having to pay for costly vet visits if the illness can be home-remedied as we have on stock many of the necessary and commonly-used medications. We also consult our vet Dr Chong of The Animal Clinic over the phone. Vet visits are usually made for vaccinations, tests, fecal exams, injections, when the symptoms shown are unfamiliar to us, or when we need a top-up on our stock of medications.

But we also believe in alternative therapies. The main alternative therapies we employ are nutraceutical and herbal supplements, and aromatherapy as we have used and found them to be truly effective. For other alternatives like homeopathy and acupuncture we look for Dr Poon of Island Vets. Most of the time the illnesses are successfully treated within our foster home in liaison with our main vet if the case is not terminal.

Below are the main nutraceutical and herbal supplements we use in our foster home and the essential oils we use in our aromatherapy.



Nutraceutical supplements (commonly used)


Vitamin B - for immunity, especially during and after illness, before and after vaccinations

Lysine - for recovery from cat flu' and after, to prevent recurrence

Vitamin C - for recovery from cat flu' and after, and for immunity

Colostrum - for immunity and gastro-intestinal health

Antioxidants - for healing from external wounds such as abscesses, skin infections

Probiotics - for gastro-intestinal health

CoQ10 - for healthy heart function especially during symptoms of low blood pressure or anemia and during hypothermia



Herbal supplements (commonly used)

Echinacea - for immunity, used during and after recovery from illness, before and after vaccinations

Elderberry, licorice and mullein - used in conjunction with echinacea, this blend acts as a flu' remedy

Slippery elm - for digestive health especially when vomitting is present

Chamomile tea - for digestive health especially when there is diarrhoea, or anxiety

Goldenseal - diarrhoea remedy

Tumeric - for healing of external skin wounds such as abscesses, skin infections

Salmon oil - for healing of external skin wounds, and recovery from illness.




Aromatherapy

We use aromatherapy mainly through diffusing essential oils to remedy different needs. in the foster lounge itself. Sometimes we do use essential oils in a carrier oil for specific needs but this is not often as cats tend to be more sensitive to topical use of essential oils. The main essential oils we use for diffusion are:

Lavender - for calming, especially when there are new arrivals or cats that are stressed from illness

Chamomile - for healing gastro-intestinal problems such as diarrhoea

Neroli - used together with lavender, it calms separation anxiety when the kittens are newly orphaned from their mothers or when the cat is newly abandoned

Eucalyptus - for aiding in cases of breathing difficulty usually due to flu'

Clary sage - used in conjunction with eucalyptus when there is breathing difficulty especially in more critical cases

Peppermint - used together with eucalyptus and clary sage, sometimes added to a container of hot water outside a carrier and covered with a blanket with a cat inside that is having difficulty breathing, for 10 minutes

Geranium - used when there are cats recovering from skin problems

Marjoram - for temperature regulation, such as hypothermia, or fever

Tea tree oil - which MUST not be used topically as it toxic if ingested; diffused to kill bacteria when there are cats having bacterial infections

Pine - also antibacterial, and has a deodorising effect



This list of our foster care elements is not exhaustive and as we improve in our knowledge and care more and more we will update this post along our growth as a foster home.

While this may mean our boarding expenses per cat will be higher than in a lower-quality foster setting, we aim to maintain our standard of care as we want to provide the best and most cost-effective care for our rescue cats.

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