My family is fostering a shelter kitten named Teddy. Talk about a win-win.
Every foster family is a "win" for us at the Wisconsin Humane Society and the animals we care for. Our passion for homeless animals is unlimited, but our ability to actually help them is finite: It’s a mathematical function of the physical space we have divided by the time each animal needs to be with us.
Every time a foster family steps forward to help an animal who needs a longer stay, it’s as though we added a room to our shelter. The fostered animal gets a loving home while he or she recovers from illness or injury, or works on needed behavior skills. And every animal back at the shelter gets a little more space – critical space to reduce stress and vulnerability to illness so that they too can go home quickly and in good health.
And for the foster family? I’ll tell you, fostering a kitten gives new meaning to the idea that volunteering can be fun. Here are some of benefits we’ve seen so far:
- Fostering Teddy is easy. Even a busy family like ours can care for her well. She needs foster care because she’s recovering from a fracture, but it has healed enough that it doesn’t hurt or hold her back. She just needs to avoid running and jumping until it heals all the way. This means she can eat and go to the bathroom by herself. She hangs out in a big playpen with toys, food and all her equipment when she’s not being held and cuddled by one of us. Not every foster assignment is so simple, but Teddy is proof that many are.
- An injured kitten brings out remarkably responsible behavior in teenagers. That’s all I should say here.
- Kittens bring joy. The physical and emotional health benefits of having any companion animal are well documented, but there is something about the tiny bravado of a silly kitten that significantly increases your average daily amount of laughter. Teddy just makes us smile.
- It’s temporary. In the immortal words of Ogden Nash, "The trouble with a kit…