Ok, so this is totally not a food post, and I’m sorry for those of you who are suffering because you loathe cats or what not, but I figured this would be the best way to share some experiences of fostering kittens, which forms a big part of our lives in the sovereign realm of Moutonia. I mentioned fostering as one of my passions on my About page, so I figured I could get some leeway to jot down some thoughts and hopefully inspire others to at least consider fostering, volunteering, or donating to a cause they feel passionately about (cats optional).
1) It’s not easy
I’m getting this out of the way, because it’s really not easy. You don’t just pick up kittens, take them home, and carry on with your life. Even if they’re the healthiest, bounciest little rascals ever, you will still stress, spend more time than you thought possible pondering kitten poo, and end up being more dirt and smell conscious than before. You’ll lose sleep and stockings, but never the feeling that it’s not worth it, because it is. 100%.
I’ve changed what I eat for breakfast to make it a quicker process so that I can make my morning rounds, and we make sure we stop in at least 3 times a day in each room to change water, top up food, clean litter boxes, and play and socialize with the kittens. Be ready to make your time theirs, because they are the ones who need attention. Kittens especially are susceptible to all sorts of illnesses, so you need to ensure you can spot signs early enough.
Five-hour long Walking Dead marathons are therefore a thing of the past, friends. Learn to do squats whilst you play and lunge around cats because gym time may also disappear. Include them in what you do, because they won’t care as long as you’re nearby.
Fostering is fun, really! In between the critical moments, smelly moments, scares and sleepless nights lies a boundless stream of joyous times of bonding, playing, and learning to laugh rather than cry when a mug gets knocked over or curtains get shredded.
Cats love laptops with a a fiery passion. They will lie on it the moment you leave the room, and you will come back to long, incomprehensible word documents, deleted files, and super innocent faces.
Find all sharp edges, open bins, medication, mood swings, chocolate, and either lock it up or line it with foam. Unless the foam or coverings looks even remotely edible, in which case you’ll be digging fluff out of the litter box and having awkward vet visits.
If you think you’ve done a good job, you haven’t. Crawl on your hands and knees after a glass of champagne and try and imagine what you would do for fun if you had superpowers in cat form. Five minutes after our last litter arrived the one cat managed to tangle itself in our blinds. We used pegs to tie back the blinds. Our pegs are now missing, the blinds are in tatters. Kittens know best.6) Don’t be afraid to love
The biggest fear that people seem to have about fostering is that they will fall in love with all of them and never let them go. Foster moms and dads aren’t heartless monsters who thrive on clinically raising kittens to be of age and then discard them to hapless victims. They love just as fiercely as the forever family, except they know that it’s better to give kittens wonderful homes than to leave them in shelters where they often lack people to socialize with. Don’t get me wrong, shelters are better than nothing, but nothing beats the home vibes, sounds and smells. Give your kittens names, cuddle them, give them kisses, and take lots of photos.
This applies to all stages of fostering. Even if you’re the most introverted cat lady (or man) ever, you will most likely be in contact with the shelter, vets, prospective adopters, and trolls. Learn to love social media platforms to market your kittens in all stages – I document my kittens from day one and give updates on healthy, personality and quirks, so that whoever adopts the kittens gets a story – not just a squirmy fluff ball.
I’ve also been amazed at how people open up when sharing stories about their pets, past and present, or why they want to adopt – almost everyone has a story they want to tell, and it gives so much more context as to why people seek out shelter/foster kittens over their storebought counterparts. I also try and keep track of all my kittens after they’ve been homed and often get wonderful stories of how they’ve made themselves a part of the family. That means sending awkward emails and everything. It’s worth it.
I’ve had people send me super dodgy emails asking me about my kittens and whether they can buy them as a “surprise” for someone else, for example. Um, no. I always ask for the email address of the person they wish to surprise and most of the time that person does NOT want a cat. Kittens are cute but they are not surprise presents. They are family members that need to be considered – they have medical needs and deserve love and attention; they do not take care of themselves. I’d rather hold onto my foster kittens than just dish them out to the first person that comes along, and all the people that take home the kittens end up being wonderful, because that’s what the kittens deserve.
Really, any cats of any age. Some might be deemed semi-feral, sickly, or others might come to you covered in dirt. It doesn’t matter – unless you really truly feel that a kitten’s requirements are beyond your capacity, don’t judge them or think that you can’t make a difference. My one black litter of “semi-ferals”, who would most likely have been shipped out to a feral farm, turned out to be the sweetest, most amazing cats ever, and the one kitten that came out of a car’s engine and totally mucked up my blankets totally stole our hearts, even before his two baths.
They will always surprise you and be just as magical as the day you met them. Despite fostering being “my project”, as he would say, Man-thing’s has had to step in with the last litter of nine because I only have so many hands, so that’s been really great! Also, don’t fail at fostering (AKA adopt) unless you’ve actually planned to adopt beforehand – I know they’re cute and you just want to adopt them all, but that’s how you get stuck with dozens of cats and thousands in vet bills. After much deliberation for several months we’ve finally chosen one of the most recent litter to join our little family, but we’re waiting a bit before the big reveal (unless you follow us personally on FB). 😀
Fostering isn’t for everyone. Some people are allergic (I take anti-allergy pills), others have anti-cat partners, don’t live in a pet-friendly apartment, or simply don’t have time. That’s all perfectly valid! If you aren’t able to foster animals of any sort but are passionate about their well-being, find a way to get involved, whether by donating to a local charity or volunteering for a few hours a week at a shelter or similar. Every little bit helps!