Local nonprofit cat shelter Furry Friends is looking for volunteers to foster cats until they are old enough to be adopted. Furry Friends Marketing Director Diane Stevens said the shelter has a need for more foster parents while Furry Friends has started taking in more cats than usual as the size of its volunteer staff grows with additional funding.
“Right now we’d like to get about four more foster families,” Stevens said. “The more foster families we have, the more we will be able to take care of.”
Stevens said the health protocols surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have caused a “huge kitten season” as many people aren’t able to get their pets in to be spayed or neutered, creating a need for more foster parents as the season moves on.
“We’re getting calls daily about taking in cats from backyards,” she said. “We’re trying to take in as many cats as we can but mother cats and kittens have to go to a foster home.”
Foster homes are temporary homes for kittens not yet old enough to be adopted out into the community. Foster parents take care of the kittens during this time by feeding, playing and socializing them before they’re old enough to be spayed or neutered, which is around three months of age. According to Stevens, Furry Friends provides everything a parent needs to take care of the kitten such as food, food containers, litter, litter boxes, medication, toys and more. “The foster family doesn't have to spend a nickel,” Stevens said. “If they want to, they can, but it’s not required.”
Along with ensuring the cats stay on a healthy feeding schedule and taking the cats in for veterinary checkups, foster parents are required to interact with the kitten and have two 20-minute play sessions every day.
“The more you can play and interact with them, the better they become as cats,” Stevens said. “A lot of people think being a foster parent is just all fun. And it is fun, but it’s also a lot of work.”
While being a foster parent is more work than just having a furry friend in your home for a few months, Stevens said the reward is “worth it” and many foster parents continue to take in kittens. She explained that learning to let go of the kittens you foster is one of the hardest parts about being a foster parent.
“The only thing I don’t like about fostering is that I can only take one litter at a time, and thinking of how many are out there just breaks my heart,” current foster parent Veronica Roderick said in a Facebook post. “I do cry in my car after dropping off an adopted kitten, but it’s well worth it!”
While not everyone can foster a kitten, Stevens said everyone in the community can help care for cats and kittens by educating themselves and their neighbors about the importance of spaying and neutering their pets.
“Kittens are the number one most euthanized animals in the United States because there are just so many kittens and there aren't enough resources to take care of them,” Stevens said.
Along with educating friends, family and yourself about spaying and neutering, Stevens said people shouldn’t give out cats and kittens for free because many will get abused as bait in dog fights, lab tests and torture in general, and those looking to adopt should do so through a shelter such as Furry Friends.
“If you take on a free cat, you’ll probably spend $400 on medical costs,” she said. “(At Furry Friends) we charge $130 for one kitten.”
More information about Furry Friends and becoming a foster parent can be found online at furryfriendswa.org.