Fostering for the First Time

Picture a busy animal shelter full of the sounds of dogs, puppies, cats, and kittens. Add to that the sound of staff and volunteers who are feverishly working to clean and care for the animals and the many visitors that come to the shelter. Through all that noise, on a day like all other days, there was one noise that rose above it all and spoke to my heart – the cries of a three-week-old kitten who had just arrived at the shelter. She had been abandoned and someone brought her to our shelter to help give her a fighting chance for a good life. This beautiful creature, small, frail, and starving, had the loudest cry, and everyone in the shelter that day remarked on how loud and heartbreaking her cries were. It was in those cries that I knew what needed to happen next – my family needed to foster her.

Having cats for most of my life, I felt somewhat prepared, but I knew this would be so much more. Just as the nerves were starting to put doubt in my head, an amazing thing happened. The people who work at the shelter enthusiastically stepped in to show me how to take care of her. To say their devotion is unwavering does not do justice to how dedicated they are to the animals in the shelter’s care. To be given the responsibility of caring for one of the shelter’s saved animals, well, words fail.

Fostering is a family affair.

Arriving at her temporary home, our new little guest was greeted by a teenager who leaped across the room to see what was in the small carrier. The questions began almost immediately. “How old is it? It is a boy or a girl? How do we take care of it? Can I hold it?” Her eyes widened when she was told that this was a “bottle baby” and she would need to be fed every 3 to 4 hours. I will admit that after the 2nd night the feeding schedule seemed to wear thin on us all, but every new experience and time shared with this beautiful kitten was amazing and as tiring as it was – she was worth it. We quickly learned to divide and conquer.

Baby proofing for a kitten is an interesting journey. It is amazing how a kitten gets into the tiniest of places. Making sure that she was safe to roam was important – learning that a kitten can fit through small spaces was even more important. We used a baby gate to block the doorway to the room where she was living. Within two seconds, our little escape artist showed us just how tiny but mighty she is. Thinking outside the box, we literally used cardboard boxes and taped them to the gate. While this worked for a time, it became a personal challenge for her, and every day she would test her jumping skills to see if she could get over the gate. Within 3 days she reached her goal – and we had to become even more creative.

The shelter provides what you need.

Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter made sure we had what we needed to take care of our new little guest. Litter, litter pan, food, syringes for feeding, and milk were all provided. The veterinary technicians at the shelter were instrumental in monitoring our kitten’s health, especially since she had a good-sized hernia. Since this was our first time fostering, we had a lot of questions. The shelter also made sure that we were educated in providing the best care for their animal and knew what to do in an emergency. The reassurance and encouragement that we were given is proof positive that when everyone works together as a team, it gives animals in need the best chance for a good outcome.

Tiny but mighty is an understatement.

Ready for her surgery, my family was filled with mixed emotions. Because of her special circumstances, everyone agreed that it would be best for us to bring her home with us for just a few more days to be pampered and recover. It is amazing how resilient an animal is after having surgery. Within a day she was ready to pounce and play – with no understanding of why she is not supposed to do that. With the help of the shelter, we knew just what to do to make sure she was safe and well cared for.

Our family knew that it would be hard to say goodbye when we first took her in. When she first came to us, she did not even weigh a pound. Although her start was tough, those days are behind her now and she is ready to find her forever family. Our family will miss her chattering and tiny little cries when she talks. We will miss her pouncing on anything and everything that moves. We will miss her loudness when she wants attention. Most of all, we are grateful to be given the chance to foster and know that we will foster again.

Fostering a kitten for the first time was a great experience. I didn’t realize how much work goes into caring for a baby. I learned a lot and hope to foster again very soon. Thank you to Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter for giving me the chance to make a difference in the life of one of your pets.