Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Foster "Tail"

Feline Rescue volunteer Mike became a foster caregiver after helping to rescue a momma cat and kittens last fall. Mike has fostered some challenging kitties, who might not have had a chance otherwise. He shares his experience:
Momma cat Carmelita

Baby-steps...little moments that make you smile and breathe with a little more purpose. That is what I call those moments when slowly, but ever so surely, the cats/kittens will give you glimpses of who they are. In time, they will all shine.

For me, it all started in November of last year. As I was driving home during rush hour on a Friday night, I saw something move, rather scurry, to the curb. What could have been such a disturbing evening in my life became one of the most cherished and rewarding. Instead of watching a mom cat and kittens get hit by the cars rushing by, I contacted Feline Rescue volunteer Molly, and we were able to trap the mom and kittens. Since I got her involved in the first place, I told Molly that I would like to be more accountable for the care of this mom and kittens.

Carmelita and baby Lulu
So that is how my adventure of fostering started. I asked my two cats Belle and Haley if they would mind if I "babysat" a few cats/kittens from time-to-time. They didn't seem real enthused one way or the other. I cleared out one room and kitty-proofed it, then "left the light on for them," figuring I'd "get it ready and they will come."  I decided to view myself as “Uncle Buck”:  I was inexperienced with "babysitting" kittens, but my heart was in the right place, and I figured I would learn as I go. The first hurdle: Belle and Haley. Would they be stressed out by having other cats in a room that they used to have access to? After a few stares at the closed door and peeking underneath, they seemed resigned to opening their home to their kind. I think they understood, since Belle was adopted from the Humane Society and Haley from Feline Rescue.

There are SO many moments that make me laugh or smile—ask me sometime and I will gladly tell you. I am blessed to witness the transformation of mom and kittens from scared, confused, hungry and thirsty, to enjoying being kittens, playing with their toys or their siblings' tails. Although I may not be moving mountains, in my own way, I am moving little hills of kitty litter. If you are able and willing to open up a room for them, care for them, interact with them, be patient with them…they just might make you so happy that you did.
Lulu and Hughie

But be prepared!  When it comes time for them to go to their adopted home, it is hard to see them go. What a small price to pay for giving them a chance to live their lives! What I didn't realize is that I am potentially helping out people as well. I think of how these little beasts have made my life so much more enjoyable and helped me through some of life's challenges. Now they will have the chance to bring solace and love to other humans.

Billy and Elliot

You see, fostering isn't so much about me helping cats/kittens in need; I am doing it for me...selfish, but true.  When I first started visiting Feline Rescue, I thought I was doing it for the cats. Then, on certain days when I wasn't able to visit, my afternoons didn't seem as rewarding, nor was I as content. I would hear volunteers say, "what great therapy" it is to be with the cats. Now I get what they mean!  I am also impressed with the dedication, respect, hard work and compassion that the volunteers at Feline Rescue show toward the cats in their care.

There are many amazing cats of all ages that need a place to stay. Adoption centers can't house them all. Fostering allows more cats to be given a second chance. Of the cats that I have gotten to know that are the sweetest ones around, I am amazed when I read their background information. What stories they would tell if they could, but many would probably not want to relive those moments.  

Foster kitten Eliza

I don't expect everyone to feel as I do. But, if you have ever thought of fostering a cat or cats until they can find a good home, you should look into it.  Or if you know of someone who could, maybe bring it up to them.  What have you got to lose – except maybe a little piece of your heart?
Foster kitten Joey

These cats were all given a second chance thanks to the efforts of Mike and many other volunteers and with the support of Feline Rescue's Outreach Program. Catching Carmelita and her kittens was a challenge, and then the kittens needed socialization as well. Hughey, Billy and Elliot were scared kittens spared from Animal Control, who learned to trust and then found good homes. Amber's kittens (Joey, Sophie, Emma and Eliza) were strays rescued by volunteers and lucky enough to be socialized so they could become house cats. Emma, Joey, and Eliza are still looking for great homes.

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