Meet Sunny. He’s not my kitten, but he’s staying with me for a little while — my little furry eight-week-old Hurricane Sandy refugee (he is presently chasing his tail). As much as I’d love to, I can’t keep Sunny, because I already have two cats of my own, and my boyfriend will murder me if I try to move another animal into our apartment. But Sunny is a temporary addition — I’m fostering this little babe until he gets permanently adopted.
Thankfully, it looks like Rachel’s mom is going to take Sunny (Rachel is noodling naming him Jordan Catalano, on account of his guyliner eyes), so he’ll have what shelters call a “forever home.” But there are still, and always will be, stray and abandoned animals that need help. Which is why I love fostering — I can make a positive, longterm affect on an animal’s life.
I first got into animal fostering four or so years ago, and have probably fostered eight or so cats and kittens, helping them get set up in permanent homes. Sometimes I find a suitable adopter, and other times, the rescue group I work with is able to match up my animal with a prospective owner. The role of a foster is to simply give the animal time, love and attention, and basically socialize them so they’re ready to be adopted out. Even if you don’t think you can provide longterm care for an animal, fostering helps get a healthy, adoptable animal out of the shelter system and off the kill list.
Why else is fostering great?
- It removes an animal from a traumatic shelter environment that might otherwise make an animal seem unadoptable.
- It allows you to become a mini-expert on the animal in your care, which gives you an added advantage in knowing what kind home the animal should be adopted into.
- It’s totally free, other than the cost of feeding the animal.
- It gives you a cute, fluffy temporary pet.
- And it helps you figure out if you have what it takes to be a real deal pet owner.
You can find listings of great rescue groups in your area on Petfinder, and most rescue groups will provide you with some kind of crate, necessary medicines and a starter pack of food. And yes, it can be hard giving some of these little babies up, but ultimately, knowing that I’ve helped them find a great permanent home is even more rewarding.