Especially this time of year, animal shelters and rescue organizations are in desperate need of foster parents for kittens as they become overwhelmed with the number of young animals needing help. Without foster parents kittens are turned away to accept whatever fate awaits them or are euthanized in large numbers. When foster parents give them a safe haven they set them up to be healthy and adoptable animals. Foster homes free up a shelter’s resources and space so that other animals may be helped.
I hear from people that fostering is a great idea but they couldn’t then give them up and I understand this. A few years ago I was at a farm near my favorite fruit stand. I noticed a box and started hearing noises coming from it. I was told that someone had just “dropped” it off. I looked down at four dusty and hungry kittens and thought “The last thing I need right now are 4 kittens/I cannot leave them there.” So instead of coming home with peaches, filberts, strawberries and honey in my shopping bag, I came home with The Farmstand Kittens – Peach, Filbert, Strawberry and Honey in a dirty cardboard box. Once at home, I prepared meals and a bubble bath for each. I had no idea that in 4 weeks time they would grow up to be the worst furry heart thieves I would ever meet.
The kittens grew up sweet and healthy. When they would see me they would race across the room to climb up my leg, purring furiously. Or they would pile up on my lap and nap for hours. In the afternoons I would set up a puppy pen in the garden and let them play and explore. I grew incredibly attached to them and them to me.
I’d like to say when the day came to take them to the local shelter to be adopted I congratulated myself for a doing a great job and packed them up to take back, albeit with a little sadness. But no, instead of that experienced animal rescue person who had done this before, I became a blubbering, crying, snorting, hiccupping, emotional mess. I would decide to pack them up and take them in and then one second later “No! I’m keeping everyone of them!” Finally with the help of supportive Facebook messages, emails, tweets, text messages and phone calls I was able to take them to the shelter. All four kittens were adopted within a day of returning to the shelter and being spayed or neutered.
It was not easy to say good bye but I would have felt much worse NOT fostering them and wondering what kind of life they would have had as stray cats. And when I get the next call that there are more kittens to foster, I’ll forget for a while the hard part and I will race to get all my supplies ready to welcome a new little bunch of furry heart thieves.