Last year we ran our first "12 Cats of Christmas" cover story, featuring adoptable cats from the Orange County Animal Shelter, and it was a big hit. This year, we've decided to focus on kittens, who have special needs that make shelter more challenging.
Orlando resident Lisa Krakosky fosters kittens until they're ready for adoption through Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando. You can follow along with her charges at her Instagram feed, @orlando.kittens.
"My husband Jeff and I moved to Florida in July of 2014. We began volunteering as kitty cuddlers at Pet Alliance in November of that same year," Krakosky says. "One Saturday in April we were working the last shift of the day when a mom and her four kittens were brought in right before closing. The kittens were less than a week old and the shelter manager was looking for someone to foster them so they wouldn't have to stay in the shelter overnight. Kittens that young do not have a developed immune system and can get sick very quickly."
"I had no experience caring for kittens but I said I would take them. I've been fostering kittens (and the occasional dog) for Pet Alliance ever since," she says.
Some people may not realize that some shelters simply euthanize kittens under eight weeks old. Cats that young require the kind of individual nursing (both feeding and vigilance against illness) that most shelters can't provide.
Cathy Rodgers of the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando tells us the shelter developed a "Virtual Kitten Nursery" because more than 1,000 homeless kittens are surrendered to their shelters each year. "A kitten must be at least two months old and 2 pounds before it can be adopted," Rodgers says. "Most of the surrendered kittens have not hit those milestones and require regular and sometimes round-the-clock care until they can be adopted out. Pet Alliance doesn't have the staff resources to do this, so we engaged our volunteers to help out. Pet Alliance provides guidance, food and supplies while volunteers provide the love and time to care for the kittens."
Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando is trying to find new families for all of its shelter pets this month as part of the Home for the Holidays promotion. The adoption fee for all dogs and cats six months and older is only $12, through Dec. 24. Anyone interested in becoming a kitten foster volunteer can contact Pet Alliance's foster coordinator, Susan Russell, at email@example.com.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all catnip mice.
CURRENT HOME: Orlando Kittens
HIDDEN TALENT: I am the slonkiest slonk of all the Orlando Kittens.
GOAL: To gain enough weight to hold down my end of the teeter-totter when playing with my sister Lux
MANTRA: "This is my belly ... there are many like it, but this one is mine. My belly is my best friend."
DREAM JOB: Not sure I understand this word "job," but maybe water boy at UCF football – or yoga teacher
PERSONAL MOTTO: "Ballless and flawless"
WHO ARE YOUR HEROES IN REAL LIFE? I admire Russell Brand's commitment to anarcho-utopianism. Also, Kitten Lady Hannah Shaw
TURN-OFFS: Capitalism, greed, slobber
DARK CONFESSION: I'd love to poop in Rick Scott's shoe.
FEARS: A laser pointer that's out of batteries, a newspaper that is impervious to my claws
GENDER: I don't know what that is
WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF PERFECT HAPPINESS? Infinite ear rubs
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST FEAR? A cucumber sneaking up behind me.
WHAT IS THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE IN YOURSELF? Irrational fear of cucumbers
WHAT IS THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE IN OTHERS? Irrational lack of fear of cucumbers
WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST ADMIRE? Lisa Krakosky
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE WRITER? Hemingway, of course.
IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF, WHAT WOULD IT BE? What even is this question? Have you never met a cat?
ON WHAT OCCASION DO YOU LIE? Never. I merely exaggerate from time to time.
AGE: I'm cute years old
GENDER: Gender is a social construct that I'm not into right now
CURRENT JOB: A live-in alarm clock for people who can't be trusted to wake up after the first five phone alarms go off
WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF PERFECT HAPPINESS? Me watching you watching The Aristocats
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST FEAR? A life without sunbeams
WHAT IS THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE
IN YOURSELF? Pffft. As if. I've been rated 17/10 on the pupper scale, so I'm basically perfect.
GUILTY PLEASURE: Dog food
SECRET WEAPON: Blue jewel eyes that make you forget that hairball I hacked onto your lap.
FAVORITE HANGOUT: Your warm armpit on a cold morning.
PEOPLE I ADMIRE: Devotees who take Zyrtec just to be in my presence
STAR SIGN: Capricorn
JOB BEFORE MODELING: Makin' biscuits
DREAM JOB: Makin' biscuits on Alex Guarnaschelli from Chopped
GUILTY PLEASURE: Warming my buns on your stove
SECRET WISH: To one day convince a gangly man to hide me in his chef's hat, allowing me to control his movements and turn him into a culinary master.
HIDDEN TALENT: Getting into your pantry cabinet without thumbs
THINGS THAT MAKE ME HISS: Basic kibble. I have a refined palate that needs a refined budget, you know what I mean?
FAVORITE BOOK: Like Water for Chocolate – quail in rose petal sauce is the kind of action I need right now
FAVORITE HANGOUT: The top of your fridge, where I can scream at you for not putting in enough salt.
FAVORITE THING TO DO WHEN MY HUMANS ARE AWAY: Find the smallest place to hide myself in, which happens to be your breadbox.
IDEAL VACATION GETAWAY: A long nap on the kitchen counter.
THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE IN OTHERS: When people leave tape on the floor.
CELEBRITY CRUSH: Kat Von D
HIDDEN TALENT: Playing the jazz flute.
FAVORITE RADIO SHOW: "Jazz in the Bible Belt," Sundays on WPRK.
FAVORITE HANGOUT: Below a hummingbird feeder.
THINGS I HATE: Hummingbirds – or do I love them?
FAVORITE THING TO DO WHEN MY HUMANS ARE AWAY: Seek and destroy.
DREAM OCCUPATION: Staff writer at Orlando Weekly
GUILTY PLEASURE: Fucking up toilet paper rolls.
SECRET WISH: To have opposable thumbs.
THINGS I'M GREAT AT: Making jazz playlists.
CURRENT HOME: Orlando Kittens
STAR SIGN: Leo
AMBITIONS: Not the ambitious type
YOUR IDEA OF PERFECT HAPPINESS: Sitting there, judging things and people
YOUR GREATEST FEAR: Not getting a hit of catnip
THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE IN YOURSELF: My thighs could use some work.
THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE IN OTHERS: Their thighs could use some work.
HIDDEN TALENT: I'm a virtuoso pianist.
FAVORITE DATING APP: Hinge.
GUILTY PLEASURE: Coughing up hairballs in out-of-sight corners of the house
SECRET WISH: To hike the Appalachian Trail
THINGS THAT MAKE ME PURR: Standing over the heater vent
THINGS THAT MAKE ME HISS: Spray bottles
CURRENT JOB: Unemployed
JOBS BEFORE THIS: Amateur phone cord eater
AMBITIONS: To eat them cords, friend
WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF PERFECT HAPPINESS? Biting into a fresh, unbitten cord, which is a happy blend of crunchy and soft
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST FEAR? Cordless headphones
WHAT IS THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE IN OTHERS? People who tell me that eating cords is bad. To which I say, "You are all slaves to outdated norms, and I'm a gifted young cat who can eat whatever I want."
PEOPLE I MOST ADMIRE: Radio Shack employees
FAVORITE THING TO DO WHEN MY HUMANS ARE AWAY: Same thing I do when they're here: cordin'
DREAM OCCUPATION: Director of cord tasting at any publicly traded national cord manufacturer
FAVORITE QUOTE: "I live my life one cord at a time."
STAR SIGN: Aries
JOBS BEFORE THIS: Loudly cleaning the ol' undercarriage right as my owner was trying to fall asleep, a little ditty I called "The Devil's Jamboree."
AMBITIONS: Besides my butt? Never really thought about it.
WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF PERFECT HAPPINESS? You, ignorant and dull, unaware of how short life is, watching some stupid TV show. Me, wise and omnipotent, blocking the TV while fully engrossed in my own cheeks.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST FEAR? The cone of shame
WHAT IS THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE IN OTHERS? People who stare. Like, take a picture, buddy, it's not like you've never seen a guy with his head in his own lap before.
PERSON I MOST ADMIRE: Sting
DREAM OCCUPATION: Just want to be a loyal cat in a loving home with people who accept me for who I am.
STAR SIGN: Gemini (and I'm judging you big-time with these gigantic eyes ... I kid, you can do no wrong)
TURN-ONS: Head scratches, squeak toys, rapt attention to my acrobatic feats
TURN-OFFS: Humans trying to touch my paw beans
FAVORITE ACTIVITIES: Staring contests, seeing through walls, providing gratis closet de-mothing
HIDDEN TALENT: Can meow the complete works of the Carpenters; skillful gift wrapper (I ain't scared of no Scotch tape)
FAVORITE HANGOUT: Your lap
AMBITIONS: Thoroughly exploring every sock drawer in the 407 area code
FAVORITE THING TO DO WHEN MY HUMANS ARE AWAY: Drinking water from the fountain of youth ... or as you call it, "the shower tap"
IF I COULD GO ANYWHERE, I WOULD GO: Stardust Video & Coffee (I hear they still rent videos, wow what a hoot)
AGE: Time is an illusion
CURRENT HOME: Orlando Kittens
WHAT DO YOU MOST DISLIKE ABOUT YOUR APPEARANCE? Absolutely nothing
WHAT IS YOUR MOST MARKED CHARACTERISTIC? The way my beautiful fluffy white guard hairs contrast with my sleek black coat. Also my crystal-blue eyes. And my perfect blep. Basically I'm gorgeous.
WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF PERFECT HAPPINESS? Empty cardboard boxes from fancy New York stores
DREAM JOB: Instagram influencer
TWO TRUTHS AND A BIG LIE: My eyes are blue. I love Ping-Pong balls, especially rolled in catnip. I want kittens of my own.
WHERE WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO LIVE? Your house
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST FEAR? Getting caught inside a circle
CELEBRITY CRUSH: Norman Reedus
FAVORITE BOOK: The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford
AGE: I'm a kitten, duh
TAMRIELIAN BIRTH SIGN: The Thief
TURN-ONS: Taking unnecessary risks and having them pay off; can openers.
TURN-OFFS: Running out of tuna; also, food bowls that aren't completely full.
FAVORITE ACTIVITIES: High-stakes blackjack games. (Only dogs play poker.)
HIDDEN TALENT: Counting cards up to and including two.
JOBS BEFORE MODELING: Roguish gambler, hence the name.
DREAM JOB: A bounty hunter for mice
FAVORITE HANGOUT: Nothing beats a lap, but an open laptop is a close second.
AMBITIONS: Fortune and glory.
FAVORITE THING TO DO WHEN MY HUMANS ARE AWAY: Watch the stock ticker at the bottom of CNBC; pounce on bargains.
IF I COULD GO ANYWHERE, I WOULD GO: To sleep.
STAR SIGN: Libra (behold my quiet, contemplative demeanor)
THINGS THAT MAKE ME MEOW: A beam of sunlight to warm myself in, ice cubes, blackberries
THINGS THAT MAKE ME HISS: Humans who fall for that vicious YouTube cucumber hoax, hot soup
GUILTY PLEASURES: Hairball manufacturing (look at my luxurious flonf!), showing my own tail who's boss
JOBS BEFORE MODELING: Running a wildly unsuccessful cassette label
PEOPLE I ADMIRE: Clovis in Sleepwalkers, any keyboard-playing cat (I keep meaning to take up a musical instrument)
HIDDEN TALENT: Impersonating a cloud
AMBITION: To be a contestant on "The Wheel"
FAVORITE THINGS TO DO WHEN MY HUMANS ARE AWAY: Watch Sesame Street, be a perfect lil' angel.