by Cheryl Buchignani

I’ve been a volunteer at FUR for over three years now, and it has been a wonderful experience for me.  There are so many aspects of animal rescue and rehabilitation, but I would like to focus on my involvement in fostering.  I never considered fostering until I “worked” at FUR on a regular weekly basis.  Every Monday, my fellow volunteers and I clean the shelter and feed, socialize, and play with our resident cats.  Over time you get to know each cat and their particular situation. This is where you begin to see the needs of some that are more than what the shelter can provide. This is where it began for me.

The Joys

Cash was a beautiful young tabby that had gotten his eye scratched during a scuffle with one of the other cats. Topicals were applied to his eye but, over time, his eye needed to be sutured shut to allow for healing.  Afterwards, he needed to wear a collar, be closely supervised and take daily medications. So began my first foray into fostering for FUR. Cash spent 2 months with us and was a model patient. Our efforts were rewarded when the sutures were removed and his eye was healed!  Saying goodbye was difficult, but not long after he was returned to FUR he was adopted by a wonderful family!

Pluto and Jupiter were two tiny little loving little ginger tabbies rescued from a hoarding situation who needed a place to go due to overcrowding at FUR. They had just been weaned so it wasn’t necessary to syringe feed them, but they were very small — under 2 pounds. They were with me for over a month, and during that time they gave me so much joy with their silliness and their sweetness and their need to be cuddled and loved. They went back to FUR at 3.5 pounds and were adopted as a pair soon after. 

The Pains

Pluto and Jupiter had a sister, Venus, and she came home with me too.  She was the smallest, only .64 pounds, and the sweetest little tabby. She seemed to be doing well during the first week, but quickly went downhill. One morning, I found her in her bed, hardly breathing. We rushed her to a 24-hour veterinary hospital, where it was determined that she would not make it. They called it “Fading Kitten Syndrome,” where there has not been enough nutrition through mother’s milk to make a healthy body. I took Venus home for burial in our FUR cemetery. I still wonder if I could have done something to prevent her passing. 

Tula … well Tula. 

What can I say about her.  She touched me in a way that I never expected. 

I have written about her in a previous blog – Losing Tula – which you can read if you wish. 

The Foster Fails

Almost two years ago, five kittens were found wandering in a park and brought to FUR. The smallest was only .74 pounds. She was definitely the runt, but so unbelievably cute! I kept watching her.  She was the last to get to eat, the last to play, but always trying. After a week, she wasn’t doing well, and the others were not socializing well either, so I took all of them home! They spent a lot of time in my bathroom, with a cat tree and a window, but oh my was that ever fun. I fed Midge separately so she could get enough to eat. I proudly returned the five kittens after a month, fat and sassy. I was especially happy that Midge weighed 1.74 pounds! Well, one week later, I arrived at FUR and to see Midge was still not thriving. I took her home that day to the joy of everyone at home, who had fallen in love with her.  It only took a few more weeks to realize that she was a member of our family. Still, she was a kitten and quite ignored by our older cats. So how did I rectify this? By bringing home her brother of course! I had had my eye on him anyway…. He was very responsive to me while being fostered. Midge and Spike quickly became a bonded pair, and so it goes. 

Current Foster

Just like Venus and Midge, Rosie was from a set of siblings whose mother left too soon.  When the kittens contracted upper respiratory disease in the sanctuary, she was the one who didn’t recover. In fact, we wondered if there was something more going on with her. When she weighed only 2 pounds at 4 months, and looked very sickly, I took her home. She is still with me over one month later, weighing almost 5 pounds now, and waiting for her adoptive mother to take her home soon.  I have never known such a fun loving and super energetic little kitten.  To think that we almost lost her…

Lessons Learned

I do believe that it doesn’t take much to foster.  You don’t need a lot of space — a spare bathroom or the corner of a bedroom will suffice. The desire to help and the ability to love will carry you through. FUR will help you do the rest. They will even pay for all supplies and medical care.

When I thought about fostering before, I would always think “Well, it will be so hard to let them go.” But now I realize that this attitude is a bit selfish. Yes, it’s hard, but when you are needed NOW, what is the point of worrying about YOUR feelings in the future? It is true, I went from a family with 2 cats to a family with 4 cats. But I did so when I knew it was right. And you will too.

Good luck, Future Fosters!

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