I used to have a very fast-paced career. I worked in film, taught theater arts in a residency program, and I was a published playwright and author of several other projects.
All of this came to an abrupt stop when I was diagnosed with a degenerative nerve disease. In and out of the hospital dozens of times, I found myself with way too much time on my hands.
When I was home bound for long periods, I often told my husband Rick that I wished there was a business that would bring you a basket of kittens that you could love and play with to your heart’s delight and then you could just send them back. Of course, we couldn’t keep them because we already had four cats; two adopted from the animal shelter and two rescued from my sister’s barn. But just the idea of having the babies seemed like the best medicine I could think of.
During this time, my sister found a feral kitten in her barn. She brought me this tiny baby because I had bottle feeding experience. I bottle fed this tiny kitten every two hours for two weeks and he made it. Because he loved to disappear, we named him The Great Houdini, or plain Harry to his human family. I was able to place him with a great cat-loving family. Now, I really thought about researching the possibility of fostering. Being very green in this area I called the local animal shelter to ask about their foster program. They said I would have to take a foster class that wouldn’t be offered again for six weeks, then I could join their program. Well, you don’t have to be Einstein to figure out that dozens of kittens wouldn’t make it during that time period. It made me sick to my stomach, and I tried to argue. I thought my background would change their mind. After all, I had bottle fed several of my own cats and had been a cat owner for over 20 years. No, they wouldn’t take me. I was heartbroken.
It was a year after I had fostered Harry when I noticed a Facebook posting about fostering through the Kitten Foster Project with Found Animals. I sent an email and waited for a response. Maybe they would want me. I got a reply and filled out the form – I was so happy! Within just a few weeks, we brought home our first two babies. It was love at first meow! We prepared my home office as our “kitten spa” complete with cozy quilts, a fuzzy blanket with a heating pad, a big snuggly lamb that could be heated, toys, scratching posts and all the love and affection that could possibly be given by humans!
Because of my health, I am able to spend close to three hours a day with my babies in residence. In fact, I often nap in the red chair in the office and always have babies napping with me. Living with a chronic pain disease does take a toll on me. However, I have found that when we have “babies on board,” I actually take less pain killers. And the joy they give me would have to be totally off the “joy meter” if one did actually exist. I am not the lone kitty caretaker. It is a real family affair. My husband Rick and son Grayson are always available to be loving on the babies.
The four babies we have now mark our 12th little fosters. They all have been unique little characters. We have loved them all. When people discover that we are a kitten fostering family, it is fairly often that we hear “I could never foster kittens because I wouldn’t be able to give them back. That is just too hard.”
Well, I take my foster duties very seriously. I love these babies like they are mine because if I do they are much more likely to respond to possible adopters. When it is time for our babies to go back to find their forever homes, there are a few tears shed as we kiss them good-bye. But knowing their time with us ultimately allowed them to live, stay out of a cage, learn to trust people, love and seek affection… a few shed tears is a very small price to pay to give these fragile babies the very best chance at a great life.
It is all so worth it and they truly give us back so much more than words could ever describe.
Are you interested in fostering with us? Visit the Kitten Foster Project page for more information.