Fostering Felines: Tales of Transformation and Tender Care

Jazz was a feline foster mom for Sweetie and her litter of 4 kittens. Nursing on a black, orange, and white plaid blanket.

At Cats With Jazz, I believe that every purr, every cuddle, and every paw print matters. My journey as a feline foster mom has been an incredible ride filled with heartwarming stories, challenges that tested my limits, and countless moments of joy. In this blog post, I open the door to my world of fostering cats and kittens in need, sharing the lessons I have learned, the triumphs I have celebrated, and the bonds that have forever changed the Crew.

My Journey as a Foster Mom for Cats and Kittens

Why I Decided to Foster Cats

Following Stripie’s passing in February of 2022, I decided to take a deliberate hiatus, focusing on self-care and tending to the cats under my guardianship. The adjustment was challenging, transitioning from preparing two bowls of food to just one during mealtimes. The surplus of litter boxes, beds, and cat paraphernalia that once filled the spaces now felt like poignant reminders of Stripie’s absence. Holding onto these items became a way of preserving the memory of her presence.

Stripie, a Maine Coon cat, sitting on green grass with a bush in the background.
Stripie, my childhood cat and soulmate. She loved anything to do with the outdoors!

As the months passed, an opportunity for change arose. Although the void Stripie left behind was profound, I recognized that my heart had space for another feline companion. Yet, I remained cautious, still navigating the waves of grief. Cat sitting became a healing journey, where each bond formed and every cat cared for brought solace to my heart. This juncture led me to a profound realization: I could channel my compassion for cats in need while exploring the readiness to embrace a new feline friend.

With the intention of extending my care to vulnerable felines, and with a mindful consideration for Biggie’s adjustment, I embarked on a journey of becoming a foster parent for cats. This endeavor presented itself as a bridge between my love for cats, my need for emotional healing, and my desire to ensure a seamless integration for any potential future additions. In essence, this decision was more than an act of fostering; it was a way to honour Stripie’s memory, my own healing, and the possibility of new companionship.

Embracing the Unexpected

Fostering cats has a way of throwing surprises our way, each one a unique opportunity to learn and grow. From pregnant cats seeking shelter to nursing mothers with their tiny bundles of fur, Cats With Jazz headquarters has been a safe haven for feline families in need. The initial challenges of caring for fragile lives have been met with dedication and the willingness to adapt. These cats have taught me resilience, patience, and the power of unwavering love.

Feline foster Atari, a pregnant and semi-feral queen.
Atari, a semi-feral queen I had the privilege of fostering.

Throughout the years, a multitude of cats offered for fostering have arrived as unexpected cases. With each passing day, the number of cats and kittens discovered—whether in good health, injured, or unwell—continues to rise, all of them in need of shelter and care. Whenever my space allows, I seize the chance to provide sanctuary, a pivotal step in safeguarding these felines from the ongoing dangers of the streets or the looming threat of a euthanizing shelter.

If you happen to have an available spare bedroom or bathroom in your home, I wholeheartedly encourage you to consider fostering. By offering a haven of love and safety, you are extending a lifeline to vulnerable animals, while the rescue organizations tackle the logistics of medical care and supplies.

If you would like to donate supplies to the fosters in my care, you may do so here.

Fostering is a pivotal contribution that extends beyond merely providing shelter for these charming cats kittens. It plays a critical role in shaping their socialization and growth. Immersed in an environment of affection and nurturing, these babies evolve into well-adjusted and sociable feline companions. Fostering also opens a window to the enchanting spectrum of personalities and quirks that each feline brings. The journey is a kaleidoscope of joy, from witnessing their tender infancy to observing their confident, loving nature flourish.

Four of Sweetie's foster kittens cuddling on a black, white, and orange plaid blanket.
Sweetie’s litter of four: Jesse, Jaden, Dottie, and Socks (formerly known as Atlas, Triton, Lamia, and Rhode).

While adorable kittens frequently steal the spotlight, do not overlook the significance of adult and senior cats in need of a safe haven. Their transition to a forever home often takes more time, as they have endured various circumstances, from abandonment to losing their human companions. Senior sweethearts have a special place in my heart, and some of my most cherished fostering memories are with these wise companions.

Fostering is not just a gesture; it’s a gateway to unparalleled fulfillment for animal lovers. This role enables you to save lives, augment rescue efforts, and receive the unconditional affection of a furry bundle (or a few). If fostering isn’t feasible right now, remember that your voice carries weight. Spreading awareness about fostering opportunities and the significance of spaying/neutering can be a game-changer. Such efforts translate into fewer homeless cats and kittens, reducing the heart-wrenching occurrence of euthanization due to overcrowded shelters.

Let’s unite in making a tangible difference in the lives of homeless cats and kittens. Together, we possess the power to cast a future illuminated by love and compassion—the very essence they deserve.

Cats of Courage: Overcoming Illness and Injury

My journey has not been without its share of trials. I have cared for cats battling illnesses that required round-the-clock attention and dedication. Each step of nursing them back to health was a testament to the strength and determination that cats possess. The rewarding feeling of seeing a once-ailing cat bounce back, their eyes bright with life again, is a reminder that no effort is too great when it comes to these remarkable creatures. Amid instances where kittens could not overcome their struggles, I came to embrace gratitude for the privilege of offering them love, care, and comfort in their final moments.

One of the fosters that I bonded the most with was Chief, an FIV/FeLV positive senior. Despite enduring a challenging past, Chief’s spirit remained unbreakable, exuding a sweetness, sociability, and affection that was truly extraordinary. His substantial separation anxiety bore the scars of abandonment by his initial adopters, followed by later surrender. My dedication focused on rebuilding Chief’s confidence, addressing his food security concerns, and showering him with the love and care he deserved, bridging the gap left by past indifferent owners. If I did not already own 3 cats at the time, Chief would have found a forever home within my own feline family.

Resilient former foster Chief, days after being returned by his former adopters and undergoing dental surgery.

Throughout the subsequent months of fostering, a realization gradually unfolded – finding Chief an adopter would be an uphill battle. His abundant affection, compatibility with other cats, and fondness for people stood in stark contrast to potential adopters’ hesitations regarding his FIV/FeLV positive status. Even among those willing to take a chance, compatibility with his separation anxiety proved elusive due to their work schedules.

Chief stands as a remarkable example of the transformative impact of offering a helping hand to a cat in need. As a senior grappling with two infectious diseases, stomatitis, and fear of abandonment, Chief’s story radiates resilience and hope. It is a poignant reminder that cats, regardless of age or health challenges, yearn for the devoted care and affection that fostering provides. Just as kittens and youthful cats benefit, the older ones, and those with illnesses, deserve an equally devoted and nurturing foster environment.

Tiny Paws, Big Hearts: Nurturing Queens and Young Kittens

The tiniest paws hold the biggest promise. I have been privileged to witness the delicate phases of kittenhood, from the miracle of births to the first wobbly steps, leading to the playful antics that follow. Caring for young kittens requires vigilance, warmth, and lots of love. It is in these moments that we are reminded of the magic of new life and the joy of nurturing innocence.

Queens, on the other hand, exhibit an array of shapes, behaviors, and sizes. My introduction to fostering queens began with semi-feral queens, who adamantly safeguarded their kittens and kept their distance from me. Among these queens, one remarkable feline chose my 20th birthday to usher her kittens into the world—an emotional milestone as it marked my first birthday without Stripie, just a month after her passing.

Sweetie (formerly known as Purrseidon), nursing her litter of four. Dottie is Calico kitten on the right side!

This coincidence crystallized my certainty that fostering was my path. Merely four days after, I welcomed Purrseidon, a slender yet pregnant queen, into my home. Her extraordinary blend of warmth and sociability was awe-inspiring, even more so as she bore her litter last year. Gradually, I found myself forming an unbreakable bond, leading to the joyful adoption of Purrseidon and one of her precious kittens. You all know these members of the Crew as Sweetie and Dottie.
→ Interested in getting to know the Cats With Jazz Crew? Click here.

Celebrating Success: Finding Forever Homes

The true essence of fostering lies in the moment when a cat finds its forever home. I have said many bittersweet goodbyes to kitties who are now in the loving arms of their new families. Each farewell is a celebration of success—a testament to our collective efforts in making a positive impact on these cats’ lives.

Jaden and Jesse (formerly Triton and Atlas) snuggling in their adopted home.

Maintaining connections with those who have adopted my former fosters has been a fortunate aspect of my fostering journey. However, this isn’t a shared experience for all fosters. Goodbyes can be laden with emotions, particularly when the cats have formed strong bonds with you or have been integral to your healing process. Nevertheless, the solace lies in the knowledge that they are entering homes where they are cherished as deeply as you cherished them. This realization is the heartwarming culmination of it all.

Joining the Fostering Journey: Tips for Aspiring Feline Foster Parents

Fostering presents its challenges, but its rewards are truly immeasurable. For those setting out on this compassion-fueled journey, I extend a handful of valuable insights:

  1. Expand Your Knowledge: Immerse yourself in the realm of cat care, behavior, and health. The more you understand, the better equipped you’ll be to provide exceptional care.
  2. Craft a Welcoming Space: Design a secure and inviting haven for your foster cats. In my foster rooms, plush beds, scratching posts, and an array of toys offer both comfort and stimulation.
  3. Exercise Patience: Each cat carries a unique story, and the adjustment period varies. While some may adapt swiftly, others might need a week or more to establish their sense of security.
  4. Leverage Support Networks: Forge connections with local rescues, seasoned fosters, and veterinary professionals. Having a network to turn to can prove invaluable for guidance and assistance.
  5. Embrace the Moments: Cherish the memories that unfold. I’ve created a dedicated photo album featuring clay paw prints, a tuft of fur, and snapshots of all my foster graduates—a testament to the lasting impact of their presence.

Fostering isn’t solely about providing temporary shelter; it’s a journey that reshapes lives, including yours. Through the highs and challenges, every moment contributes to a collective narrative of compassion and positive change.

A Legacy of Love

As I reflect on my journey of fostering felines, I am filled with gratitude for the lives I have touched and the lives that have graced me in return. Fostering is a legacy of love—an ongoing commitment to the welfare of these wonderful creatures. Each cat that passes through my home leaves behind a piece of their heart, forever reminding me why I do what I do. Through the challenges and the triumphs, our journey as cat fosters is a testament to the boundless capacity of the human heart to care, to heal, and to make a difference, one paw at a time.

[Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is based on my personal experiences as a feline foster and is not a substitute for professional advice.] For more blog content, click here.

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