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A lifetime commitment

October 8, 2012
The Daily News


Fostering, is it for you?

Have you ever considered fostering a cat or kittens for your local shelter? This can be a wonderful experience and you would be helping not only the animal but the shelter as well. The shelter is in need of volunteers, if there are not enough volunteers the shelter staff have a big job to do. It is very time consuming for shelter staff to clean cages for the many cats they have.

As of last week they had approximately 120 cats and kittens. So there is little time for socializing the animals. Fostering an animal helps to socialize them so they can fit into a new home.

Many times an animal is afraid and will hide in their litter box, but after they have been fostered, they come to the front of the cage for someone to pet them.

In addition, with several cats in foster care the shelter is not over-crowded and the animals will get a chance at a new home. If there are too many to choose from it will be difficult to select the right pet for you.

You may ask "how do I go about fostering?" You will do the same thing you would do to volunteer for the shelter.

You will need to fill out a form for them with your name, address and a few questions. You will need to be a responsible, caring adult, with a place that is separate from your own animals.

You may ask "what are the benefits of fostering?"

You will find this to be a wonderful experience to know in your heart that you have helped an animal become socialized enough to get into a new home, and fostering can save lives.

Allow me to share with you my latest experience. I recently fostered a pregnant petite silver tiger that was barely a year old. She had been live-trapped with several feral cats. A kind person at the shelter saw she was not wild but was purring and wanted you to pet her.

They asked if I would foster this very pregnant cat. I agreed to care for her until she had her kittens.

On Fathers Day, at 5 a.m. she had four tiny silver tiger babies.

The next morning was a sad one. She had lost one. But the three kittens she had thrived under her watchful care and love. It was interesting to watch her as she taught these three how to use the litter box and how to eat solid food with her short little mews, as she talked to them.

My own veterinarian told one of her clients, a gentleman named Art who had lost a kitten, that I had a mother and her kittens at my home and that they were shelter cats. So these people called me to see the kittens. When they came to my home, Art said I only want one kitten to replace the one I lost.

I sat down with them while they were playing with the kittens and explained to them that the shelter was aware they were looking at the kittens. I asked them if they would consider adopting two kittens because they would be lonely and cry if adopted individually. I suggested that they think about it and consider everything because this is a lifetime commitment. Their lifetime that is.

They agreed that was a good idea. They called back two days later and said "Jeanne, we are 90 percent sure we are taking Halli (the mother) and Ralphie (the little male)."

Was I surprised? That is hardly the word.

I made arrangements with the shelter and we agreed on a time. They came and put Halli and Ralphie in their pet carrier. As they walked up the stairs to leave, Art turned back and said "I hope they get a home together, too. I feel bad leaving them like this."

They followed me to the shelter where they filled out their paperwork and got everything taken care of. I wished them luck and told them if I could ever help them in any way to contact me.

I waited a day or two and called Art to see how they were adjusting in their new home. He told me that they were jumping out at each other and running back and forth through the house playing and having a good time together and then he told me "Jeanne, thank you so much for our new pets. They are so much fun to watch them play together."

Now, did that warm my heart? I guess you know the answer to that.

Well, like I told Art, I have two kittens left in foster. Two silver tigers 14 weeks old. One male named Ralston and a female named Queenie. Call the shelter to find out how you can see us. We are also on Facebook.

Jeanne Gardipee




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