By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Never a dull moment at Wendy and Stephen Hughes-Jelen’s High Point townhome.
They always have a variety of enterprises under way. For one, they’re companions to Sophia, the Italian greyhound, who’s appeared on the cover of CityDog Magazine. For two, Wendy has a green real-estate practice, and a social-media sideline with multiple blog-format websites (most recently, she’s been producing videos to promote Eat Local Now! – the local-food celebration coming up Sept. 30th).
We could go on, but why bother, when the next thing we’re going to list is so all-consuming: Their current sideline is round-the-clock kitten-raising. Five heart-stealing kittens – with, best of all, webcams. (One’s here; the other’s here.)
On behalf of West Seattle-headquartered nonprofit shelter Kitty Harbor, Wendy and Stephen volunteered to foster the little fluffballs – now six weeks old, two weeks away from adoptability – and decided to chronicle the whole thing online.
The ongoing saga is on a Facebook page called Kitty Cornered. After browsing the page, we asked Wendy if we could catch up with her to write a WSB story about the adventure; she pinged us back a night or so later: “Coming over for the midnight feeding?”
We thought the invitation was a joke. It wasn’t. (Well, we do make a point out of 24/7 coverage – and that doesn’t just mean we’re there for 2 am helicopter questions.) So, off we went to observe.
The kittens have been headquartered in an upstairs bathroom. Bringing them over to the nearby office space for feedings first requires the feline fosterers to gate off the stairs.
Once that’s accomplished – Sophia gets to stay, but the pre-existing Hughes-Jelen cats (adult rescuees Havana and Sprite) are downstairs somewhere – out come the kittens. And darlingness ensues. Including their interaction with always-curious Sophia (that’s Wendy in the background, answering a question about how the dog and kittens get along):
Four of them are siblings – Smudge, Ashlee, Cinder, and Purrl. (The latter is the only one who’s not a shade of gray, therefore the name – Purrl looks to have a whole lot of Siamese.)
They were all of one day old when they arrived with their mama Mia, who was barely out of kittenhood herself – maybe six months old when she had them. Then there’s a feisty little striped one, Legacy, who turned up all alone in Highland Park a day after Wendy and Stephen received the other four.
Raising kittens isn’t something you can do in your spare time. The Hughes-Jelens work from home most of the time with their realty and tech enterprises, which makes it possible to handle the three daily feedings – which have included bottles as well as special kitten-formula cat food (Mia was only able to nurse them for about three weeks) – here’s Legacy getting a bottle from Stephen:
Wendy estimates they’ve been putting in up to five hours a day, but, “we get the honor and enjoyment and laughter of (doing) it.” She says they found out about the opportunity through Kitty Harbor’s Facebook page (which you can see here). But when these kittens are ready to seek their “forever homes” at Kitty Harbor, Wendy and Stephen say they aren’t planning to take in replacements right away. Their current plan, in fact, involves doing this “only” once a year – since it’s a two-month enterprise to have them underfoot!
If you’re interested in fostering kittens, there’s info about that – and other volunteer possibilities – on this page of Kitty Harbor’s website. And if you need inspiration – here’s the Kitty Cornered link again (lots of videos there too), and the Kitten Cams (One’s here and here).