Why Foster? Simple. It’s a Joyous Thing!

A Bedside Table Full of Blessings

When the plea went out from our local shelter recently for help with the dozens of tiny, motherless kittens who needed fostering, I finally ponied up and jumped in full force.

When I went to pick up a few of the babies and saw how many there were (literally dozens), peeping their squeaky little appeals to all who passed, sitting dejectedly in the corner of their cage, or, in the case of the stronger ones, leaping up and hanging from the cage door so you couldn’t miss them, I decided to take as many as I thought I could handle. So nine it was, from three different litters.

These babies weighed between one and 1.5 lbs., mind you, and gaining enough weight to be spayed or neutered and then put up for adoption was the main goal. Socialization the next, almost equal, priority. I thought, “Okay. I can do that. A couple of weeks of a little mayhem but lots of play time with kittens — it’ll be fun!”

Think again, Leta. The day after taking my babies home, ringworm was discovered in the nursery so all in that section had to be isolated and treated. It was decided to keep mine where they were — at my house in my guest bedroom — but a week later one of my tiny tots did glow blue (not good) when the shelter vet scanned him for ringworm with the black light.

Alas.

So it was decided my crew too should receive treatment. This consists of dipping as well as oral medication. Since I had unexpected guests arriving for a long weekend, and the kittens had to go to the shelter for their treatments as well as routine vaccines and deworming, the shelter graciously offered to keep my babies for four nights so my guests could inhabit my guest quarters without having nine kittens scrambling all over them.

I went to retrieve the babies yesterday. Or part of them. I had decided only to bring back four or five of the smallest, as the nine-some had indeed proved to be fairly tricky to handle. The stronger amongst them would attach themselves to me like iron shavings to a magnet when I walked in the guest room door, or several would come pouring out into the hall and land amidst my six dogs who were standing there ever curious about the new occupants. (Fortunately my dogs are cat-friendly, so no mishaps there). But it was hard. Besides, all had gained weight and thrived under my watch so I thought the larger ones would probably do just fine if I left them there. So four or five it would be.

NOT.

When I got to the shelter I was first and foremost totally awed by all the  the folks who work there do for these little guys, every day. They have to do ungodly things to them several times a day (pills, shots, dipping, cleaning up diarrhea, to name a few), keeping decontamination uppermost in mind at all times.  I was so impressed!

But I was also horrified. Every single one of my babies had lost at least 2 or 3 of the hard-earned ounces I had put on them in the ten days they were with me. One was back down to 1 lb. and had horrible diarrhea. Her little face looked like a Biafran orphan, and I could tell she was walking that line between deciding to live or not. They were all depressed and somewhat lifeless. After all, in their circumstance they could not be taken out and handled so they could not receive the oh-so-important cuddling and loving and play time all babies need in order to thrive.

Needless to say I scooped up all nine of my babies again . . . plus one. She too was tiny, tiny, and was isolated in a cage all alone. I could not leave her behind.

I’ve had “my” 10 babies home for 24 hours now, and am as protective of and concerned with their welfare as a mama bear. They are getting top-grade kitten food from the health food store, are eating voraciously 4 or 5 times a day, and some soothing intestinal herbs and powerful micronutrients are already putting a little pizazz back into them. A few are still puny and obviously not feeling well, but several are zooming around the room again turning somersaults together, or sitting in the sun watching the birds outside their large window. And my little Biafran baby, Blue, is beginning to stretch when she wakes up (a good sign) and show a lot more interest in her food.

I don’t plan to adopt any of these wee ones, but yeah, they are starting to take on distinct personalities and names:  Zapata, Sparks, Ochenta and so on, and it will be a red letter day when I can take them back to the shelter fat and happy and well socialized so that they can go to wonderful, caring homes. It’ll be a while — no two-week frolic, for sure — but it’ll be more than worth it.

"Sparks," so named by Ava, a friend's little girl in Boston.

Whether it’s baby kitties, an adult dog or cat, or a rescue horse, I urge you to help out when you can. It is so gratifying and good for your soul, not to mention life-saving for these precious beings.

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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    BJ said,

    Thank you SO much! Not only on the behalf of those lives you saved, but in case anyone missed it, A 1st time foster took in 10 babies & that’s IN ADDITION to 6 dogs at home, I love it! You are the “Proof” that dispells the “I can’t foster because…..” reasons.
    For ANYONE even thinking about fostering, PLZ go to a local shelter and talk to them about it. They’ll understand ALL of your concerns & you’ll learn why this is so important. And, lol, you don’t have to start off w/10 kittens! And when you foster, you’re saving more lives than you realize. You’re freeing up kennels, making room for additional animals to have a chance. AND you’re making a difference in Human lives too~Think about all the joy these animals bring to their new adoptive families. We’ve seen the ripple effect that fostering has had on our community & you never know how far it will reach.
    As you can tell, we’re “Foster Freaks”, continually taking in & returning so much we’ve discussed the idea of a revolving doggie door : ) But after some time now we’ve seen many other benefits from fostering that have nothing to do with saving the animals life. It teaches compassion, a responsibility to care for others, the joy that giving brings, to get involved~be part of a solution and that everyone can make a difference (our 3 yr old helps by filling up the food bowls).
    I love hearing the neighborhood kids playing outside & talking about our newest foster(s). They ALL want to foster (of course!) and we expose them to various breeds, dispelling the “myths” out there. They’ve become my little advocates and are learning important lessons along the way & sharing them.
    **You FOSTER much more than an animal!**

    • 2

      What a beautiful testament to this effort, BJ. Thanks so much for posting it. I do hope others read your thoughts, as they so well capture all the good done by fostering. My hat is off to you too, because I now know that it’s not always an easy enterprise. We lost one kitten to panleukopaenia (sp?), which was sooo sad, and others did have some problem with the ringworm to which they had been exposed before coming to me. I adopted two of my babies and have been tracking the rest, and so far all but one or two have been adopted. Again, thank you for your message and for your wonderful efforts on the animals’ behalf. What a fabulous example and lesson for your neighborhood kids!!


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