By Anne Reed Special to Published Oct 08, 2013 at 3:36 PM

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 kitten is that/ it eventually becomes a cat." We love cats so much that we have three of them, which is why we can’t add more.  With Teddy, we get to have a kitten around ... and then bring her back so she can go home with a great family for life.
  • Teddy is cute. Imagine a cute kitten video coming to life in your house.  I want to say "awww" just writing this.

If you’d like to foster a shelter animal, connect with WHS here, or reach out to any shelter you’d like to help – we all need you. If you’d rather just adopt a kitten, there are more homeless kittens in need in summer and early fall than at any other time.  There are several waiting for you at the Wisconsin Humane Society; you’ll find them on our page for available cats.

Anne Reed Special to

Anne Reed became the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Humane Society in January of 2010. Before joining WHS, Anne spent almost three decades as a corporate litigator at the Milwaukee law firm of Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren SC.

At the Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS), Anne stepped into the leadership of Wisconsin's oldest, largest and most recognized animal welfare organization. For more than 130 years, WHS has been saving the lives of animals in need, and carrying out its mission to build a community where people value animals and treat them with respect and kindness. WHS helped to pioneer the idea that every animal available for adoption in a shelter could be free of time limits, taking as long as needed to be adopted. WHS operates shelters in Milwaukee, Saukville and Racine.

Anne serves on the board of directors of the National Federation of Humane Societies (NFHS), Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies, and Shelter Animals Count, a national database initiative. She also chairs NFHS's 2020 Vision Initiative. Anne also served as president of Meta House's board of directors from 2005 to 2007 and served on the board from 2001 to 2010. As a lawyer, she was named one of the Wisconsin Law Journal's "Women In The Law;" was named to the list of "Wisconsin Superlawyers," and authored a law blog which was twice named one of the 100 best in the country by the American Bar Association's ABA Journal.