Maddie's Pet Project

Help kittens by becoming a foster caregiver

by Kimberly Wade

Kimberly and Newton

“Fostering [kittens] for me has been life changing. I started on a whim but after a year of doing it I knew I had found my niche.” Those words are from Savannah Bowers, a foster caregiver for Nevada Humane Society. She isn’t alone. Many people begin fostering not knowing what to expect, and it becomes a calling once they see the lifesaving impact it has on homeless pets.

As kitten season begins in Nevada, you can make a real difference by offering to become a foster caregiver for a local animal shelter or rescue group. Foster care is where someone takes in one or more animals from an animal welfare organization and temporarily provides for them in their own home until the animals can be adopted or moved back to the organization they came from.

Kittens arriving at the shelter are a bit like children attending kindergarten for the first time – their immune systems are not yet fully developed, making them especially vulnerable to colds and other infections. Foster homes give tiny kittens the best possible start in life, helping them to stay healthy and teaching them how to live in a home with people and other pets until they are old enough to be spayed/neutered and adopted.

“When I foster, I’ll take in anyone who needs me but kittens are my favorite,” Bowers said. “Being able to bring them from this tiny little being who can't even see or walk on her own, to a real kitten, the way most people would think of a kitten, is such a great experience.”

Ronda Morman, foster parent for the SPCA of Northern Nevada, explains, “At the time you are taking care of these tiny babies, your time and dedication seem pretty insignificant. Then to see one of your foster pets years later, you smile to yourself, realizing the huge part you played in saving their life.”

Many animal welfare organizations offer foster programs. These provide a wonderful opportunity for people to become more active in their communities, and for the organizations themselves, they are a cost-effective way to greatly increase the number of kittens saved. Foster homes free up limited space at shelters for animals who are ready now for adoption.

Usually you can begin fostering the same day if you have space to keep the foster animals separate from your own animals – a spare bedroom or bathroom works great – and your pets are current on vaccinations. Many groups also provide a starter kit of supplies and after-hours support in case you need advice. Kitten fostering generally lasts from three to eight weeks and, after that, you can take a break or choose to pick up a new batch of foster babies or even adopt one of your foster kittens.

“My advice to anyone who would like to start fostering is to jump right in,” Bowers said. “Find a foster program at your local shelter or call and ask them about it. Start off with something easy, like a weaned kitten or a mother cat and her kittens. Try a variety of different [animal] fosters and find out what you like best. “Every single foster is so important to the shelter and these animals’ lives. You really know that you're making a difference and that feels great.”

Below is a list of some organizations that have foster programs in northern Nevada.
• Nevada Humane Society in Reno and Carson City: 775-856-2000 ext. 314
• SPCA of Northern Nevada in Reno: 775-324-7773 ext. 216
• ARGONN in Fernley: 775-229-3708
• Fallon Animal Rescue Group in Fallon: 775-423-8650
• Churchill Animal Protection Society in Fallon: 775-229-3708
• Catmandu in Carson City: 775-297-3419
• Carson Tahoe SPCA in Carson City: 775-885-7766

Kimberly Wade is the campaign manager for Maddie’s Pet Project in Nevada, a campaign to elevate the status of dogs and cats in Nevada. She lives with her husband and their cats, who have an Instagram to promote foster and adoption programs. Reach her at kwade@humanenetwork.org.

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