Foster Story: Andy and Stella

About a year ago I started fostering. It started with a cat that was going to be sent to a high-kill facility because she “didn’t get along with other cats.” She turned out to be fine with my 5 cats (and 3 dogs) and ended up being adopted by a fellow goalie and his family. My husband was wary of me fostering as my Galgo, Cedric, was supposed to be a foster (that lasted for about 4 hours).

I started fostering to help our local Animal Control which recently went to being a no-kill shelter, which overjoyed me. In Michigan there were so many no-kill rescue efforts I took it for granted. Come to find out it’s a relatively new concept in Iowa. I am so glad it is being embraced.

Anyway, the call went out for fosters with bottle-baby experience. Well, being a former vet tech of 10 years, I have an excess of hand feeding little ones (including wildlife). So, of course, I said I could help. I got two little ones at different times. Fortunately the rescue network found some nursing mothers to place the kittens with after about a day for each. Kittens do better with feline mothers (antibodies, social skills, etc) so it is best to place them with nursing moms if possible.

The first to show up was Andy (so named because our Waterloo Blackhawks junior hockey team won the Anderson Cup about the time he showed up).



He stayed about 2 days and did really well. He looked to be about 10 days old (rough estimate) as his eyes were open.

andy bob

Our adult cats either ignored him or were really interested. Sepia, my black cat, was a rescue from Detroit that had a litter of kittens with her when she was brought into rescue. She is a good mother and will help me out with the babies (grooming, snuggling). Bob, our youngest cat (orange male) also seems to love kittens. Not so much grooming but wanting to see what they’re doing. Both were really good about watching over little Andy in his carrier and being concerned when he would cry (bottle babies get moved around the house with me in carriers with heating pads underneath so I can keep a close eye on them, but it’s great to have the cats double checking him for me!)

Kitten in the hoodie selfie

Kitten in the hoodie selfie

Of course, I snuggled with him too. Andy really liked hoodies…

After Andy, Stella was picked up by animal control after being found in a baseball field. She was even tinier. Eyes not open, but wow, she was a fighter. The little thing screamed the entire way home when I picked her up. Hence the name “Stella” from a Streetcar Named Desire. All I could think was “STTTELLLLAAA!” She was obviously female because of her torti coloring (males can be calico or torti but that would mean they are XXY rather than XY. The genetics related to torti and calico coloring is related to the XX genotype).



Cute little Stella and Andy went to a rescue in Iowa with a nursing mom to care for them until they were weaned. Last I heard both were adopted! Yay for fostering and no kill rescues!

Helping Outside Cats and Dogs in Cold Weather

Baby, it is COLD outside. Bitterly, bitterly cold. With -40F wind chills predicted here (north-east Iowa) my thoughts always turn to animals stuck outside. Miss Moose is extremely happy to spend her second winter with us as an inside dog (I found her on a highway in a blizzard, she smelled like a cow and we found out her owners moved and left her).

Hello? Yes, this is Moose.

Hello? Yes, this is Moose.

My horse even gets to stay inside on very cold days at his barn. But with cats still coming in to our local (no-kill!) Animal Control I feel for those left to fend for themselves.

Cats especially have it rough. I see so many with ears scarred by frostbite. One way to help feral or lost cats in your neighborhood is by putting together a simple box. I made one similar to this one:

Shelter for feral cats

Sorry I don’t know who to credit for this picture! I found it here:


I took a rubbermaid  tub, lined it with foam board insulation, and put some straw inside. I cut a small (cat-sized) hole on one side. If you have animals that may trap a cat in the box (Coyotes, etc) an escape hole on the other side is a good idea. I usually put a bit of cat food out on top of the box on very cold days too. I imagine some raccoons or opossums may benefit from that, and I am OK with that. They need help as well.

Water sources can also be helpful. I have a small pond that I keep a bird bath heater in so there is some unfrozen water critters can get to. I didn’t think it mattered, but last winter (record lows here for weeks!) I kept seeing a little Maine Coon drinking from it. I thought she was another neighborhood feral that I would trap and neuter and release, but one day I saw her sitting on our patio shivering. I went out to feed her and she jumped into my arms. After some Facebook networking through my vet it turned out she was a beloved family pet who got out in October (we found her just before Christmas). I was so happy to see her reunited!

Fleury (named for the hockey goalie and because it was snowing when we found her). Her actual name turned out to be Trixie. I like Fleury...

Fleury (named for the hockey goalie and because it was snowing when we found her). Her actual name turned out to be Trixie. I prefer Fleury…

Dogs can also be in trouble in cold weather. I found Moose just before a blizzard hit, she is one lucky girl! This post from Lost Dogs Illinois on Facebook shows one way to help pups in need:

Obviously, if you see a dog tethered outside in extreme weather with no shelter please call your local police department or animal control. No animal needs to live like that.

Also be sure to tap on your car hood before starting it, kitties like to crawl up near engine blocks for warmth. And if you use salt, use pet-friendly kinds.

Your indoor pups may like a coat when going outside in frigid weather. Our husky-mix Kailie is built for cold weather (though we don’t let her stay out in it long).

Kailie in Utah

Kailie in Utah, the Kaprys Photography watermark is from my other blog

However, short-haired dogs like greyhounds and the like need coats in cold weather. The greyhound rescues usually tell new owners “If you need a coat on, your dog does too.” Here Cedric, my Galgo Espanol (or Spanish Greyhound) and Marigold, my ex-racer (RIP sweet girl) model their coats my mom made for them.

Cedric and Marigold in 2012

Cedric and Marigold in 2012

If you don’t have a specially fashioned coat or need a quick one for a lost dog, use a sweatshirt. Put the legs in the arms and clip the sides up on the back with a safety-pin.

I hope this post helps some animals in need. Stay warm, friends!