Fostering the (Feline) Future Henderson Style


by:  Diane Soukup

As I descend the stairs at 7:30 a.m., still slightly drowsy in my robe and slippers, I perk up and smile as the duet of tiny mews greets me from the living room. Luke and Leia, two small gray fluffy kittens who are now about 11 weeks old, greet me and demand their breakfast. They have water and dry food available all the time in the huge dog crate that’s their “safe space,” but they love their wet food – which they apparently think should be delivered faster than my just-waking-up phase will permit.

Wet food delivered, dry food and water refilled, litter box cleaned out, and the siblings are fully awake and ready to explore. They greet the resident dogs and cats before heading to the cat tree to practice climbing and chasing each other before taking time out for a nap together.

The thing is, these two tiny feline siblings are not my kittens. They are fosters that my family and I will care for until it’s time for them to go to adoptions and find their “fur-ever” family.


Pets in Henderson Cats Rescue 1st Henderson Guide 1stHendersonGuidecom

One question I’m asked quite frequently is, “What do you have to do to foster?” The first step is to connect with your local animal shelter or rescue. The Animal Foundation, Hearts Alive Village, the Nevada SPCA (NSPCA), Henderson Animal Shelter, Homeward Bound Cat Adoptions, and House of Second Chances Animal Rescue comprise an extremely short list of places that utilize fosters to help care for animals that have come into their care.
Fostering starts with an application to help, much like when one wants to adopt an animal. You’ll answer questions about who the primary caretaker for the animal(s) will be, who lives in the home, what other pets you have, and whether you own or rent, amongst other pertinent information. Application forms and requirements are available online.

The Animal Foundation also requires applicants who want to care for kittens to take an online class on caring for orphaned kittens as the tiniest of cats require more specialized knowledge and intensive care than older kittens and adult cats.

In most fostering situations, the organization will provide the foster family with everything needed to care for the animal: Veterinary care, food, toys, cat litter and litter box, and dishes are typically all included. The foster is responsible for keeping their furry charges safe, healthy, fed and watered, and keeping in contact with the organization they’re fostering for, letting them know of any changes in health or behavior, and providing updated pictures of the animal for its rescue profile.

Around 6 p.m., I decide to text Carrie, my contact person for Luke and Leia. I’ve managed to get some adorable photos to share of the two playing on a cat tree and want to update her that they’re eating the new wet food very well. I also share that Luke’s watery eye has resolved and isn’t bothering him anymore.
The other question I hear frequently is, “Why do you foster?” The short answer is that I love animals. But the harsh reality is that there is an over-abundance of orphaned, abandoned, discarded, and surrendered animals that need help. Every day it seems there is another Facebook post asking for help because someone moved out of an apartment and left their cats behind. Or a homeowner finding a litter of kittens with no mom to be seen in their backyard. Or a rescue begging for more people to foster because it is at capacity and no more animals can be helped until they have more space available.

Fosters provide help in all those situations, and more. Fosters bridge the time between a potentially dangerous life on the streets or a stressful life in the shelter and a happy life in an adoptive home. Fosters help acclimate cats to living in a house, to being loved and fed regularly, and to not being afraid of humans. Luke and Leia have had to get used to our friendly dogs, adult cats, the vacuum cleaner, running water from a faucet, the Ring doorbell, country music, and so much more during their stay here.

Fosters provide important information to the rescue or shelter about the cat’s likes and dislikes, including if the cat should be adopted into a home without other cats or dogs, what kind of food they prefer, if they’re cuddly or independent, and a host of other observations.

It’s about 10 p.m., and the resident cats have let me know that it’s time for them to get their treats and go to bed. Luke and Leia are snuggled up together in their cat bed, paws around each other, heads touching. They open their big green eyes when I stop by the crate on my way upstairs to check their water for overnight, and yawn and stretch when I tell them good night. They’ve already figured out what time the household shuts down for the night – and will be wide awake and waiting for attention from my husband when he gets home around midnight (which he happily gives them).

While we will miss Luke and Leia when they go to their new family, we will make room for another kitten or two in our home and in our hearts and the cycle of helping continues. If you think you would like to foster cats or kittens, please look up any of the facilities noted above, or simply Google “foster cats near me.”


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