Thanks to everyone who gave suggestions on names for the new foster kitties. The verdict is in. Meet:
Howie (thanks typicalquirk) is the shy male black kitten. His name is inspired by Howard Hughes, only cuter.
The outgoing black female kitten's name is Astro Girl (thanks, Diva).
And this little tabby dude is Xander (yes, my Buffy obsession won out after all.)
I was keeping the three kittens in my spare bedroom, which has a futon in it. I covered the futon with blankets and a bunch of towels to protect it. The kittens all hid underneath it, not surprisingly. I went up there several times a day to handle and socialize them, and make sure they had enough food and water.
Every time I went in, I noticed that one or more of them had pooped on the towels on the futon. Probably stress, I thought. So, I'd clean off the towels/blanket, put on new ones, and haul the soiled ones downstairs to toss in the laundry.
By the time the laundry was done, the kittens had soiled the towels and blanket I had just changed. This pattern continued until I was doing more than four loads of laundry a day, and about ready to burst into tears.
I sent a frantic email to our awesome foster home coordinator freaking out about kitten poop and saying that I couldn't keep them in my house anymore, as I was worried they were going to wreck my futon. She got back to me shortly and said that she had found another foster home to take two of the kittens and asking if I could keep one of them.
One poop monster is far easier to deal with than three, so of course I agreed.
Shortly after Astro Girl and Xander were shipped off, I got an upsetting call from the foster home coordinator. One of the kittens' litter mates (a litter of nine, would you believe) suddenly became very ill and had to be euthanized immediately. They suspected it was severe and rapidly progressing distemper, which is fatal to kittens. All of the kittens from that litter needed to be taken to the vet for treatment.
I put Howie in his carrier and took him down right away, not knowing if I'd see him again. At the vet, he was isolated with the other exposed kittens and given aggressive deworming medication, IV fluids and antibiotics. A few hours later, the foster home coordinator dropped him and a bottle of liquid antibiotics and deworming meds off with me, as the vet was going to be closed the next day and they wanted to make sure the kittens were being monitored in case they got worse.
When she brought Howie in, she said, "Uh, he had explosive diarrhea in the car, so you're going to have to give him a bath." Sure enough, I looked in the carrier, and it was coated with putrid, liquid kitten poo. Lovely.
Howie's poo, meet some "Yes to Carrots" shampoo. I'm sure you'll be very good friends.
Howie's been doing so much better since, however, and proven to be the polar opposite of his namesake. Perhaps he was so shy because he wasn't feeling well? In the past few days, he has become a playful, exploring ball of energy.
Part of that is the fact that he has decided that my male black cat, Levi, is his mom.
I like to call Levi the Official Ambassador of Savia's House of Pets. He's such a laid-back, friendly, fearless cat. He doesn't feel territorial or threatened when other cats are around, and is the first to go up to them and lick their foreheads in greeting. So, when he met Howie, that's exactly what he did. Being a kitten, Howie had only every experienced this gesture from his mother, so it makes sense that he would think Levi, a fellow black cat, was the reincarnation of dear mum.
Then, something kind of weird happened. As Levi was grooming Howie, the kitten bonked his head against Levi's chin, and then worked his way lower, down Levi's chest. He then began rubbing his face into Levi's belly, kneading it with his paws, and searching for a nipple on which to suckle.
This went on until Levi got a really freaked out look on his face, and ran away.
The phenomenon repeated itself several times a day. Observe (they're both black, so it's a bit hard to see, but you get the drift):
Now, Levi and Howie have come to a compromise they both can live with. Levi grooms and cuddles Howie, and Howie gets to pseudo-nurse from Levi, as long as he keeps it above the belly, away from the nipples. So, I am often confronted with the scene of Levi lying down, licking Howie's face and body, and Howie soaking Levi's fur with his kitten spit, suckling and kneading Levi's chest right below his neck.
It works for them, I suppose, and damn, it's cute. But also, kind of weird.