My daughters love cats. They love kittens even more. For years they begged me and their daddy to get a kitten – “an itty bitty, barely-with-its-eyes-open kitten,” they would squeal.
The girls had a romanticized idea about kittens as they imagined they would be able to push these half pound little fur balls around in a baby stroller. I told them if that is what they wanted a kitten for they were better off sticking to their very agreeable stuffed animals that would be more than happy to comply!
Besides, we already had two cats. It is true however, that we adopted both of them when they were young adults. One of our cats – our Maine Coon, Sushi, weighs nearly 23 pounds, a formidable amount of feline for a young child to pick-up and hold. Our other cat, Riki Tiki Tabby, isn’t a lightweight either at 16 squirmy pounds.
While the girls matured in their understanding of what a real live kitten would tolerate, the request for a kitten never abated. That is when I stumbled upon an ad at our local pet store:
URGENT: Foster Families for Kittens Needed NOW!
Ah ha! Why don’t we be a foster family for a homeless mama cat and her babes? The commitment would be short term, I told myself. We would not be responsible for finding them permanent homes, and we would help prevent the euthanizing of perfectly healthy animals when the shelter is just full – and we could have kittens the socially responsible way.
So began our stint as a foster family for felines. We started out hosting one family a year (my husband wasn’t too keen on more – why are so many husbands like that?!), usually in the spring when shelters are bursting with kittens.
The first family we hosted was probably our favorite thus far – Thumbelina and her four polydactyl offspring. (I will tell you more about this unique and wonderful family in a follow-up post as there are many stories to tell when your house is full of clever six and seven-toed cats.)
Every year now, my daughters look forward, with great anticipation, to the next feline family we will foster. Really, it is a win-win situation for everyone. My daughters (okay, and me too) get their fill of tiny paws and claws, we provide the overflowing shelters some breathing room, we save the lives of beautiful, healthy animals, our commitment is typically only 6 to 10 weeks — and someone else gets a fabulous companion (or two) down the line.
I also love what the experience of opening up our hearts and home to homeless animals provides my daughters: they see that even at five and seven years old, they can make a difference in the lives of others. They see the importance of helping those who cannot help themselves and they know through experience what it means to be a compassionate human being.
To find out more about fostering cats and/or kittens (or even dogs and puppies), contact your local Humane Society and/or pet rescue groups. Many private rescue organizations focus on a particular breed, like the Maine Coon Rescue, while others are generic, like C.A.W.S (Community Animal Welfare Society) who will help any adoptable cat in need.
Most of these rescue groups are entirely self-funded and rely on volunteers to fulfill their mission, so if you have room in your heart and your home to temporarily foster a homeless feline – even if only once a year – you too can experience the joy of making a difference in a furry someone’s life.