|Foster failures arenít necessarily bad parents
Uh-oh, we did it again! It’s not the first time and probably won’t be the last either. My husband and I are foster failures. That’s what is humorously called foster parents who end up adopting one of their charges. It’s actually a good thing as it means a permanent home was found for another animal.
When you sign up to be a foster parent, one of the rules you are told is, “yes, you have to give the animals back.” For some, especially first-time foster parents, that can be difficult. You become emotionally attached to your little charges and invest a fair amount of time and energy into helping them become social, healthy adoption candidates. Bringing back the first set of kittens often is a tearful scenario. We ease the pain by allowing foster parents to take back the kittens on the days we are closed so they don’t feel guilty about leaving them in a cage. It also helps to have another litter ready to go that needs their TLC. That can help fill the void of the empty house syndrome.
I say that fostering is the politically correct way to have kittens in your life. Who can resist those cute, playful fluff balls? They are 10 times more entertaining than anything on TV, that’s for sure. Their antics can make you laugh out loud – there’s something about a one-pound ball of fur puffing up and bouncing sideways as they stalk a feather toy that is just comical.
We always have at least one litter of kittens in our house and have been fostering for years. Many people ask how can we give them back? But when you handle so many, and we’ve fostered hundreds, it’s easy not to get overly attached. It takes a special kitten to break through the anonymity of the litter and win a place in our home. It also has to be the right time.
We like to have four cats – my logic is that we have two people, each with two hands and that equals four. Whatever logic works for you! The point is that we recently lost one of our cats and were down to just three. And we were fostering six kittens, two of which were long-haired (we are very partial to fluffy animals).
One reminded us of one of our first cat – a sweet calico. The coloring was similar and she stood out from the litter by seeking our attention constantly. Nothing like a kitten climbing into your lap and settling down with a purr to win points! The next test is how well our other cats accept her. They are used to the parade of kittens through the house and tolerate them well, but these little guys leave before they become real pests. This one hasn’t left yet. And our cats are beginning to notice.
Cricket, as we named her, because of the little chirp she gives instead of a meow, is doing her best to fit in and become friends with the older cats. Our next youngest, Purrington, who’s just 3 years old, actually likes to play with her and that’s a good sign. We’ll see how she does when the next litter of kittens comes in – there are so many firsts coming. That’s the fun and exciting part of having a new baby in the house.
Kitten season isn’t over yet. If you’d like to experience the joys of fostering, stop by the shelter to fill out an application. Just be warned – we tease foster failures a lot.
• Registration is now open for the Mutt Strut, a dog walk and pet fair on Saturday, Sept. 28.
Start getting pledges to win prizes for raising the most money for our shelter. Register online at animalshelterleaguerp.org or stop by the shelter.
• Free pet ID tags and Microchips for all Rohnert Park and Cotati pets! Stop by the shelter during our open hours to protect your pet – Wednesday 1-6:30 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday 1-5:30 p.m. and Sunday 1-4:30 p.m.
• The Fix-it Clinic is still offering free cat spays and neuters and low-cost dog surgeries for low-income residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati. Call 588-3531 for more information.
• Volunteer orientation: Join our 200-plus wonderful volunteers and lend a hand to the animals. Learn more of what being a volunteer is all about at a one-hour overview on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 10 a.m. Junior volunteers must have a reservation; all interested adults are welcome.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.