The story of a failed foster parent

In the world of cats, a foster parent is a person who cares for a cat or kitten until they are old enough, well enough or socialized enough to be adopted. At Furry Friends, all of the kittens in our care start off in foster homes where they get lots of attention and become well adjusted to family life.

My story begins one cold and rainy day as my husband and I were driving home. We enter our neighborhood and a small kitten runs across the road. We parked the car and I went back to find the kitten. There he was, a little tabby kitten hunkered down in the wet grass, cold and afraid. It seemed to me that he was just waiting for me to come. I picked him up, brought him in the house, dried him off, and made a comfy place for him in one of the bedrooms.

We also have two 16-year-old senior cats. I didn’t think that a kitten would be good for them. They are both declining and I thought the stress of an active kitten would be too much for them. So, our plan was to be foster parents for the kitten until he was ready for adoption.

It was a good plan, but it didn’t work. This kitten stole our heart. We soon gave him the name Benny, and since we were not about to give him up, our foster parenting ended!

Then came the task of introducing him to our older cats.

In the ideal world, the newcomer cat has the same energy level and disposition as the resident cats. All my cats had similar dispositions, but the energy level was going to be a problem.

First step in the introductions is to expose all cats’ scents to each other. Any cloth item or blanket that your cats have been lying on will work. Introduce this cloth to the other cat(s) so they can get used to each other’s smell. It is helpful to put this near their food bowls. Next let them see each other, but keep them separate. Site swapping is beneficial. In site swapping you take the newcomer kitten/cat and put him/her in the area or room where the resident cat(s) roam, and you put the resident cat(s) in the room where the newcomer stays. The animals become more familiar with the smells. The final step is supervised visits with each other. Increase the amount of times for these visits daily.

The introductions for Benny, CC and Norman went okay. After an adjustment period, everyone got accustomed to what to expect from each other. Benny wants to play and rough-house too much with Norman, so we monitor that. One of the keys to success is for us to have two or three strenuous daily play sessions with Benny. We try to wear him out so he doesn’t pester the older cats, a plan that has worked well.

Bottom line is, we feel so blessed to have Benny in our lives. We are so happy that we failed as foster parents. He brightens our life daily. And he was a great companion for me when I broke my ankle. Benny was the perfect nurse during those slow days while I healed. I encourage everyone to become a cat foster parent, maybe you won’t fail like we did.

~Diane Stevens