Image by Diane Selkirk
Not ready to adopt? Try fostering—it’s affordable and gives something back to your community.
One year ago, a young abandoned mama cat found herself the safest place she could and gave birth to her five kittens. Fortunately, the little family was found and trapped by the amazing and selfless volunteers at Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA). Karen Duncan, from VOKRA, made sure they were all healthy and well—then went into her database of volunteers, hoping to find a foster home to care for them until the kittens were old enough to be adopted.
Daughter and foster mama Maia
with oodles of kittens.
That was where we came into the picture. Two months previously we’d lost our old cat to cancer, and while we weren’t ready to commit to a new pet, we really needed the silly comic-relief that a cat brings to a home. We had heard you could foster dogs and cats and thought that would be the perfect solution—so I contacted the SPCA and VOKRA and filled out an application.
VOKRA is one of those amazing volunteer-run groups that fly under the radar in our city. Each year the no-kill organization traps, cares for and houses over 800 cats. Rather than sending them to a shelter where the kittens can be exposed to illness, VOKRA relies on volunteer foster families.
Foster families come in all sorts of configurations. Some are people looking for just the right pet, some are giving pet ownership a trial run and others can’t adopt a permanent pet but do want an animal (or six) around the house for a few months. We fell into the last category (we thought).
The morning after getting the call from Karen, Maia and I headed to her home to pick up our family of cats. Karen loaded us up with everything we needed—from a cat carrier to the litter, litter box, toys and food. She gave us the number for the vet (all of a VOKRA foster cat’s needs are fully covered until they are adopted) and information on caring for the kittens. Then we were on our own.
We always had kittens around when I was a kid—our mama cat really should have been spayed!—and the chance to share the experience of watching the five babies open their eyes, take their first steps, launch themselves through space and climb the curtains is one my family will cherish. But just when things were getting chaotic, Karen let us know it was time for the adoptions to start. We took pictures of each of the kittens and their mama, wrote up a biography describing their personalities (cuddly, mischievous, adventurous and silly), and then said goodbye as each kitten and then their mama found their perfect, forever families.
All the kittens except Charlie, that is. Charlie is quirky but sweet—he cuddles, he fetches and he greets us at the door with a plaintive yowl when we arrive home. But he passed through the adorable kitten stage and entered the gangly teen stage without finding a family that saw his many charms. When someone finally did call to adopt him, we realized we couldn’t part with him—so we paid our adoption fee (which included neutering and tattooing) and became his forever family.
This is the time of year that VOKRA and the SPCA desperately seek volunteer foster families. If you have space in your home (and heart) for a temporary pet, fostering is a great way to expose your kids to the challenges and rewards of pet ownership without making a permanent commitment.