I love fostering kittens!
Fostering Saves Lives and Helps Kittens Blossom
by Nancy Peterson
“I love fostering kittens for C.A.R.E. and in July 2021, I fostered two kittens who were discovered living under a shed by an employee of the garden center where they’d likely been dumped. The kind employee provided them with food and water and after a week, she was able to grab them, get them into a carrier and take them to C.A.R.E. The kittens were very scared and in the process of getting them, the woman was bit and scratched. (If you’re trying to catch kittens or cats, please contact C.A.R.E. for information on keeping everyone safe.)
C.A.R.E. named the kittens Peony and Sunflower and after examining them, the staff contacted me about fostering the very scared kittens. At the time the kittens were estimated to be 7-weeks-old, which is within the 2-7 week period known as the primary socialization period for kittens. That means I would have a pretty good chance of making them comfortable with people and living indoors.
I sprayed my car with a calming pheromone, played a CD specifically created to calm cats and brought the kittens home. I’d prepared my kitten foster room with the calming spray and a kitten condo, which I covered with a light sheet. The condo had a shelf and a hammock; I added a litter box, food and water, toys and a small box in which the kittens could hide.
I entered the room three times a day to clean their litter box, give them fresh water and deliver delicious food. At first the kittens hissed; they were scared and hunkered down with flat ears. I sat on a bench about a yard away from the condo and talked to them softly while they ate their moist food. I wanted them to associate me with something good – moist food. Each day, I moved closer and closer to the condo as they ate, but I didn’t try to touch them.
On the third night, when I saw from their behavior and body language that they were relaxing, I left the door of the condo open so they could come out if they wanted. When I went in the next morning, they weren’t in the condo; they were hiding under the ottoman. I sat on the floor and used a wand toy to lure them out and play with them. They were having so much fun that they didn’t notice they were running over my legs.
The next day, I turned the ottoman on its side and draped a towel over it. Now, they could only hide behind the towel. Since the towel was separating us and they wouldn’t see me or my scary hand, I decided to try petting them with my hand on top of the towel. I could feel they were relaxed so I put my hand under the towel and actually pet them. That was the breakthrough, and from that time I was able to gradually pet them all over their bodies. They were now running to the door when I entered instead of hiding,
We made great progress and by the beginning of the third week, I invited friends over to sit in the room and play with the kittens. It was wonderful to see Peony and Sunflower relax with new people.
After three weeks, it was time to return my precious kittens to C.A.R.E. for spaying and adoption. I always cry when returning fosters, but returning Peony and Sunflower was especially emotional. I hoped they would be adopted together and I was beyond thrilled when CARE notified me that Peony and Sunflower WERE adopted as a pair. I was able to reach out to their adopters who shared their thoughts and photos about the kittens with me.
Nicole and her husband had researched adopting a kitten and how adopting a bonded pair was a good decision. “My husband and I both felt they were a package deal as soon as we saw them at the shelter. No way we could leave with just one!”
The adopters supervise their two-year-old son during interactions with Peony ad Sunflower and are expecting another child. They say that kitten proofing their home is more work than baby proofing. I’m so grateful their adopters were willing to contact me.
I love fostering kittens. But, it is my fervent hope that there will be fewer kittens who need fostering so that shelters can focus on providing lifesaving care to abused and neglected animals. I hope you’ll do your part to help animals by 1) spaying/neutering your cats and keeping them indoors for their safety and the safety of birds and other wildlife, 2) learning about Trap-Neuter-Return for feral community cats 3) being a foster and 4) adopting. Working together we can make our small corner of the world a better place for animals and all who love them.”
*Nancy is an invaluable C.A.R.E. volunteer. Her commitment to helping kittens thrive in her home allows the shelter to care for as many litters as possible. By providing a calm environment and socialization these kittens grow into happy, healthy adult cats. If you’re interested in volunteering or fostering pets, please follow the VOLUNTEER tab at www.coloradoanimalrescue.org. Thank you Nancy, for this wonderful success story.