May is National Foster Care month! I have been fostering for over a year now and thought I would take this opportunity to talk about my fostering experiences over the past year.
I have always wanted to foster cats but I never took any action to do so because it wasn’t a stable time in my life. I was in college, I was moving every year, and I didn’t have a stable job. My last week of school I saw a post on facebook from the Humane Society. They were looking for a foster home for a mother and her two kittens. I felt that the stars had all aligned now that I had an apartment with a spare bedroom, I was graduating and looking for full time jobs. This was the time! I decided to call and inquire about fostering. Calling to inquire turned into picking up the mother and two kittens a mere three days later.
I fostered the mother, Oleta and her two kittens, Cracker and Crocker for a few months. The kittens got adopted once they were weened off of Oleta. Though the kittens were adorable, it wasn’t difficult adopting them out because they were so young. They loved everyone that walked into the room. I knew they wouldn’t be sad to leave.
Oleta was a two year old, ferral cat. She was extremely shy and scared of people. My boyfriend and I had to work very hard to socialize her. It took her months to be comfortable with us petting her. I thought about keeping Oleta a lot. I knew that it was better to adopt her out so I could continue fostering and also my cat despises other cats. I bonded so much with Oleta. This cat that was absolutely terrified of people was now following me around my apartment, screaming for my attention, banging on my bedroom door at night to cuddle, and laying in my lap. An old co-worker of mine saw my post about Oleta on FaceBook, she wanted to come see her. She came to visit her and it was love at first sight. She adopted her a few weeks later! This made me extremely happy because it was someone I knew and trusted and I knew Oleta would be well taken care of. It was still very difficult to hand her over. I missed Oleta for weeks. It took Oleta a few months to be comfortable and outgoing in her new home. She hid in the basement for a few weeks. Now I hear happy updates that Oleta runs around the house meowing for attention and sleeps on the bed. This is amazing because this was a cat that rolled up in a ball in a corner and shook with fear when someone walked into the room. It makes me very happy that Oleta found such a loving home.
One day I was in the kitchen and saw a black cat out of the window. I looked out the door and called to it. This cat ran right past me into my apartment! When I followed her, I found her in the living room, laying on the couch giving herself a bath! Selena was a stray black cat that was sick and had a broken tail. When Selena sneezed a bunch of yellow mucus came out of her nose. She did not seem to be in pain from her broken tail. Luckily the local shelter was able to take her in and fix her up. It was difficult giving up Selena. We formed a bond right away. She thought my home was her home. She loved being kissed and cuddled. I wanted to keep her very badly. Selena was put up for adoption at PetSmart. She was adopted right away.
My family feed stray cats that live around their house. There was a mother and her two kittens living in their back yard. They were very afraid of people but came everyday for food. My family was not able to pet them. I had the opportunity over Christmas when I was visiting them to catch the kittens (my dad did the catching) and take them home with me, so I did just that. Scooter and Sapphire were timid and afraid of people. It took weeks for the kitties to warm up to us. Scooter warmed up a lot quicker than Sapphire. She chirped constantly to get pet and she discovered that she loved being kissed on the head. Though Sapphire loved being pet, he was terrified each time a hand came near him. Once the hand touched him he realized it made him happy. We had Scooter and Sapphire for a few months before they were socialized. Putting Sapphire and Scooter up for adoption hit me the hardest. I bonded with them more than I had bonded with the other fosters. They were my babies. I spent every single day with them. I watched them grow and become outgoing and happy. One day I saw a friend’s status that he was looking for two kittens. It was fate! I messaged him with pictures and videos of Sapphire and Scooter. He spoke with his family and they ultimately decided to take them. My boyfriend and I drove them to him after a few weeks due to Scooter needing time to heal from being spayed. After we dropped Sapphire and Scooter off I broke down crying. I think I cried the whole way home. I continued to cry for the next few days. This adoption hit me hard. I think this was also difficult for me because I knew how terrified Sapphire and Scooter would be. I knew that they thought I was their mom. I couldn’t help but think they thought I gave them up and that I didn’t love them. These thoughts wouldn’t leave my head. Scooter and Sapphire took a few weeks to adjust to their new home. I get happy updates via pictures and videos from their adopter. I still miss them a lot.
I volunteer at a cat shelter on Saturdays. This cat shelter only takes in strays and unwanted cats on Wednesdays. Many people are not aware of this. Often times on Saturdays people bring in their unwanted pets and strays. A few times I have been there and decided to take these cats home until Wednesday.
Dandelion was found in the middle of the street by a lady walking her dog on her lunch break. She walked Dandelion over to the shelter in her hand. Dandelion was so sweet. She loved to cuddle and nestle her head into my hair and neck.She went to the shelter and went straight to another foster home until she is ready to be adopted.
These four kitties were dropped off at someone’s house out in the country. The kind man and woman brought them into the shelter. I had them for a few days. They were very playful! They weren’t as affectionate as Dandelion was. The one brownish one was the most cuddly.
Snowball’s story: I saw a post on a garage sale page about a “free cat”. Many people began verbally attacking the woman for giving away this cat when she clearly had kittens recently. The woman explained that the cat has been with them more than a day and they looked for the kittens everywhere. They believe that the cat was dumped by their house. They asked people in the neighborhood about the cat, no one had seen her before. She wanted to leave the cat in her backyard with a bed and food but to make matters worse, their neighbor threatened to kill the cat if they did not get rid of it (Shared backyard). Fearing for the cat’s safety and well-being, the woman called numerous shelters but they were all closed due to it being memorial day weekend. The woman called the police and animal control. They were no help. The woman could not take the cat in because her girlfriend is highly allergic to cats. This woman was trying her hardest to help this cat but didn’t know what to do. She took to FaceBook to try and find this cat a home only to be verbally attacked by strangers. I messaged the woman directly to see what I could do to help. After messaging with her back and forth my boyfriend and I went to go pick up Snowball. We decided to keep her for a few days until we could take her into the shelter on Wednesday. Snowball was deaf but had a very loud personality. She loved cuddling. She chirped every time someone even looked her way. Snowball was seen by the vet the day the shelter took her in to ensure there are no complications due to her lack of feeding kittens though she is ready to feed them. Picking up Snowball was a difficult decision to make because I know somewhere out there are kittens without their mother. It is unknown whether the kittens were dead or alive, taken by someone or just abandoned by Snowball. I didn’t know where her kittens were, I did not know about their well-being, what I did know was that Snowball’s life was being threatened by someone. This is what I had to go on when making my decision.
Scooter and Sapphire were the only cats we fostered without the assistance of a shelter. This was very difficult financially. We had to pay for all of their vet bills, food, toys, and litter ourselves. The shelters assisted with the other fosters. They provided all of the supplies and the medical care. All it took us was the time to get them back and forth to the vet if they ever became sick and to the shelter to be adopted out.
In just about a year we have fostered 14 cats. Each one with their own unique story, background, and personality. I loved every single one of these cats and it was difficult to see each one go. I do not know where all of them are or how they are doing but I know I helped them in my short amount of time with them.
Though I love dogs as well, I have chosen to only foster cats because I do not have the time and dedication it takes to care for a dog or train a dog. I work full time and have a busy social life. I am also away most weekends. Cats are self sufficient enough to leave alone for a few days with a pet sitter checking in.
Because we are going to continue fostering cats, we chose to set up an official foster room in our apartment. We will do so in our future apartments/houses as well. We were able to set up this room with the help of others. We set up a gofundme account and received generous donations from kind people with big hearts! http://www.gofundme.com/fostercatroom
Fostering can be very difficult financially and emotionally. Becoming attached to a cat only to send it off to live with someone else can be heartbreaking. Fostering can be extremely stressful when there is a house full of cats screaming, demanding attention all at once…and they are all screaming from separate rooms because they hate each other or because you don’t want to spread unknown diseases to your own cat. Fostering can be stressful when you need to be at work but a cat is sick and throwing up and needs to go to the vet right away. Fostering is tiring when you have to move your refrigerator to get a terrified cat you have been working hard to socialize. Fostering is exhausting when you are kept up all night by a cat screaming from the other room for attention. Fostering can be stressful when you have plans with friends all day but your foster cat rips open her stitches and needs to be taken to the vet that is located 45 minutes away. Though fostering can be a royal pain in the ass and makes me want to cry from frustration sometimes, I love it and will foster for as long as I live. Fostering is amazing when you work hard to socialize a cat for weeks or months and get texts or emails letting you know how well the cat is doing in their new home. Fostering is great when you learn that all the kittens you fostered have been spayed/neutered. Fostering is awesome when you get a confirmation that your foster baby is being adopted! I highly recommend it to anyone that has ever thought about it. It’s a great way to help animals and your local shelters!