By Stentor Danielson
One of the things that have taught me the most about adventure is fostering kittens. When an animal shelter (such as Humane Animal Rescue here in Pittsburgh) takes in kittens or other young animals, they get in contact with a network of foster families around the area. Fostering allows the kittens to get close attention and learn to socialize with humans, something that would be hard to do at the shelter. Once a kitten weighs at least two pounds, it is big enough to get all of its shots and other medical care before being put up for adoption by its “forever home.” (Of course, sometimes a foster family can’t bear to give up a kitten and decides to adopt it — we call those “foster fails.” My own Monks is a foster fail from a litter we fostered several years ago.)
When kittens come to a foster home, they may be just a few weeks old, and incredibly tiny. Sometimes they still need to be hand-fed with a bottle because they’re not weaned yet but mama cat is out of the picture. They start to learn to walk, bumbling around on their tiny legs. In Austria, these little kittens are called ” Autodromkatzerl” meaning “bumper car kittens” because their tails stick straight up like the pole on the back of a bumper car, and they bump into things — furniture, their siblings, people — when they run. It takes a while for them to learn to use their claws as well. They may climb up things and not be able to get down.
For a tiny kitten, everything in their world is an adventure. What’s on top of the bed? A mysterious land that has never been visited before! What’s under the couch? Untold mysteries to explore! Is this new thing food? Only one way to find out! Our foster kittens stay in a room on the upper floor of our house, and it is always a major milestone when they first manage to come down the stairs on their own. And sometimes, kittens can find adventures that we didn’t expect. We were confused as to why leaves kept appearing in the kitten room, until we discovered that one of our foster kittens had managed to pry out the corner of the screen window, get out onto the roof, and bring some leaves back into the house.
Seeing the adventures in the world from a kitten’s point of view is what inspired me and my co-foster-parent Cheyenne Grimes to write Laser Kittens, a tabletop roleplaying game about foster kittens learning to grow up to be awesome cats. Right now we’re running a Kickstarter for a set of beautiful Kitten Cards illustrated by Dominique Ramsey, and a book of new scenarios and adventures for your kittens — from a farm to a spaceship to a movie set. When you back the Kickstarter you can also get the rules for the original Laser Kittens game as well. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1321036815/more-kittens