Kris Weiskopf column: Fostering kittens will save lives

June 19, 2012 

Fostering kittens is an easy thing you can do to save lives. By having a foster kitten stay in your home until it is old enough to go into our adoption center, you give a kitten a second chance at a healthy and happy life.

Cats basically are self-sufficient depending upon their age. We often get newborn kittens without their mother. We call them "bottle babies" and without a foster, there is a good chance they will not survive. Then we have those kittens that are beyond the bottle, eating on their own, just not old enough to be moved into our adoption center. A kitten needs to be 8 to 12 weeks old or over 2 pounds in order to be spayed or neutered, a requirement for adoption to prevent unwanted litters.

We are looking for a few good homes with a lot of good people who are able to give their time and space in their house for a few good kittens. Let me expand on this a little so you can understand what to expect by opening your loving home to foster kittens.

If you have an extra room, that would be ideal to foster kittens, but if you don't, the bathroom will work too. A cage is a good idea, especially those that are collapsible since they can be folded up and put away when you are not fostering. A cage provides several benefits which include the ability to keep the foster kittens safe when you aren't there to supervise. The cage should be large enough for a cat bed, a litter box, food and water bowls. This will give them everything they need when you aren't playing with them.

If the kittens are too young to eat on their own, they will need a special formula in their bottles to feed them. Animal Services will provide this special formula and the bottles if you foster our "bottle babies." If the kittens are older and eating solid food on their own, we will provide that food as well. In order to feed these kittens, you will need a small dish, preferably one that is divided for food on one side and water on the other.

Kittens will use a litter box on their own at about three weeks of age. Because they are too small to climb into a regular litter box, you may want to use a disposable foil type pan, with low sides that can hold litter, until they are old enough to get into the regular litter box.

Sometimes kitten fosters choose to do what they do because if they don't, the fate of the kittens is probably not good. If you foster, I am sure you will get a good feeling knowing you are making a difference in the lives of innocent pets. Fostering can be a rewarding, fun and often challenging experience. We are aware that foster

parents do get attached to their fostered pets, but you can also find joy in knowing the pet you fostered got adopted into a wonderful new home.

Fostering could be a good way to teach children in the family compassion and responsibility. Feeding, cleaning, playing and taking care of the kittens could be shared with everyone in the entire family.

If you have considered fostering any pet, don't think about it any more. Take the chance and I am sure you will find the experience very rewarding. Please contact Megahan Simpson at Animal Services by email megahan.simpson@mymanatee.org and she will get back to you with answers to your questions or to provide information about how you can get started with fostering. Once you start, you won't be able to stop. I am sure of it.

If you never have to look into the eyes of a dog or cat and make a choice, you are lucky. One day, we all would like to be lucky too.

Adopt your new fuzzy and furry family member from Manatee County Animal Services today. Don't forget about our June adoption special. We are commemorating Adopt a Shelter Cat Month. Adoption fees are only $10 for cats and since we did not want to leave the dogs out, their adoption fee is only $60; the fee includes current license certificate/tag, health check, microchip, and current vaccinations.

Free and Low Cost Spay and Neuter Programs call our information line at 941-749-3067.

Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, writes this weekly column for the Bradenton Herald. For more information, visit www.mymanatee.org/pets.

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