This introduces a two-part article about safely, in your home, fostering cats and kittens who you or another have rescued from the street, who are unknown to you and have no veterinary history.
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On a cold and miserable afternoon in November 1986, I looked out my kitchen door at the friendly and affectionate tabby cat with round white paws who’d taken up residence on my porch, in my yard, and in the alley by my car. He’d been around for two weeks, waiting outside the door, helping me in the garden, following me to my car, talking and rubbing himself up against me, while I was playing hard to get. On this day he had stationed himself out on the walk in my garden and was collecting ice crystals on his fur in the sleeting rain. No one had answered any signs or ads for a missing cat. I gave in to his histrionics and opened the door. He ran up on the porch, sniffed the door, looked inside, and walked in. I closed the door.
That was the last time I let an unknown cat just walk in the door without any veterinary records, and I was lucky. Stanley was clean and healthy. FIV and FeLV were just becoming an epidemic among cats and as yet there was no vaccine or cure, nor regular testing protocol that I knew of, and I didn’t even think about the importance of vaccinations. That was near the beginning of my rescuing career and I was glad that the veterinarian I saw on a regular basis, knowing I had other cats and was likely to take in more cats, let me know about FIV and FeLV and all the other things Stanley could be carrying in with him, and what to do the next time a cat asked to join my household. Actually, the lecture terrified me and I never forgot the sick feeling I got when I thought of possibly killing one or more of my beloved cats with a tortuous and painful fatal disease—and I’m glad for it. In all the years I’ve rescued and fostered cats, I’ve never had anything but fleas spread to the rest of my household.
Fostering cats saves lives, whether you bring them in yourself or foster for a rescue or shelter, whether it’s kittens, adult cats, cats who need a cage break or a level of care they can’t get elsewhere. In spring when litters of homeless kittens show up under every porch, bringing them and their mom indoors, socializing them and spaying or neutering and vaccinating them to prepare them for an adoptive home is not only kind but saves the lives of those cats and prevents the lives of other kittens that will be born to those kittens and their mother if left outdoors. Adult cats in shelters often lose their lives at this time of year to make space the number of kittens with or without mothers entering the shelter, which is finite and has regulations about how many animals it can handle, and taking them into your home for a period of time saves their lives on the spot. Taking in cats to foster from someone whose life is in transition and temporarily or permanently can’t care for them such as divorce or separation, illness, or permanent disability or incapacity, helps a cat transition from a life it’s known to a new reality that may have many changes that often turn a cat defensive and even violent if it doesn’t feel safe.
This two-part article is written from my own experience and a lot of advice from my veterinarians and other animal professionals over the years. I hope I can encourage you to foster and help save lives, safely and happily.
Why to foster and an overview of things to consider.
What to prepare for, and preparing your home and yourself.
Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals
Great Rescues Day Book:
Portraits, Rescue Stories, Holidays and Events, Essential Feline Information, All in One Book
Each month features one of my commissioned portraits of a feline or felines and their rescue story along with a kitty quote on the left page, and on the right page the month name with enough lines for all possible dates, with standard holidays and animal-themed observances and events. Great Rescues also includes a mini cat-care book illustrated with my drawings including information on finding strays or orphaned kittens, adopting for the first time or caring for a geriatric cat, a list of household toxins and toxic plants, or helping stray and feral cats and beginning with TNR.
Each book includes also 10 sheets of my “22 Cats” decorative notepaper with a collage of all the portraits in black and white so you can make your own notes or write special notes to friends.
The portraits in this book, collected as a series, won both a Certificate of Excellence and a Muse Medallion in the 2011 Cat Writers’ Association Annual Communication Contest, as well as the 22 Cats Notepaper mentioned below.
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Thursday: New Merchandise
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!