Valerie B. has been fostering cats and kittens in the Anaheim, California area for just under three years for MeoowzResQ. All costs to foster are covered by the rescue, which means Valerie can focus solely on caring for the lucky kittens and cats in her care.
To date, Valerie has fostered and adopted out 79 kitties!
A Conversation with Valerie
How did you get into fostering?
My boyfriend and I had just moved in together in Anaheim from Oceanside, and we both always had pets. We considered a dog, but knew our schedules would not be suitable for a puppy. I always had cats and wanted one, but he said he was allergic. Of course, I didn’t believe he was. One day I was helping someone look for local volunteer opportunities when I stumbled across MeoowzResQ’s website. I read that after an application process, they would provide me with kittens and all of the supplies to care for them. When I told Zach all about it, I said that we could foster to see if he really was allergic to cats. The deal was that if he was allergic, we would stop fostering after the first kitties were adopted. And if he wasn’t allergic, we would keep them! So I contacted the rescue and within a week we had two adorable 8-week-old kitties from the Downey shelter – an all white girl and a handsome tabby. They were already named Bonnie and Clyde. We loved the names, so we kept them. I couldn’t believe that we were just going to be given kittens for free and all we had to do was take care of them for a few weeks! Zach sneezed maybe twice the first day and then that was it. And we have been fostering ever since!
Have you had any foster fails? If so, how many?
We had two foster fails, Bonnie and Clyde. Since their names were so perfect and they were so complimentary of each other, we did not want to separate them. We almost brought them to an adoption event, but we could not part with them. Now they are almost three years old and they are the best of friends. Zach’s dad also adopted three cats from us and we get to spend a lot of time with them. I almost consider them foster fails too.
How many total cats in the household (pets and fosters)?
As we speak, there are eight adults and four kittens. One of the adults is the mamma to the four kittens.
What surprised you the most about fostering?
How much I love older cats! I always thought it was better to have kittens because you can raise them to fit your family and they are cute and cuddly. But adult cats are very special. They already have a great personality, but it is more difficult for them to be comfortable in a new place like a foster home. So when they start to relax and show you their personality, it really is special. It is like a little treat each time that I learn something about them. I know it’s because they are finally becoming comfortable and trusting me and that is one of the greatest feelings.
I was also surprised at how much work kittens can be! They can get really messy and needy sometimes! But that is true for any baby.
What is the best part about fostering?
The best part of fostering is when I can unite a loving family with the perfect furry friend and knowing that all of my hard work not only benefits the kitty, but their new family too.
The best gift an adopter can give a foster family is UPDATES. I love to receive pictures and stories about the kitty and the family. It further confirms that they have made it to their furrever home. Another best part of fostering is when you get a young and scared four-week-old kitten that can’t eat on their own, gets poop all over themselves and meows all the time – but as you spend more time with them and care for them, their personality starts to emerge. It’s really great to get to nurture and help shape their personalities.
What is the worst part about fostering?
There is an ugly side of fostering. Sickness, disease and death looms over us, as the kitties we rescue are most at-risk. Fosters have to take great precaution to make sure their animals are safe. But despite the ugly side of fostering, all of it is worth it knowing that these kitties were able to feel love.
What do you think most non-cat people would be surprised to learn about fostering?
How much cats actually show affection toward humans. Most people who dislike cats say it’s because cats are too independent, ornery and don’t care about people the way dogs do. That is simply not true. The cats I have been lucky enough to foster always seek out my attention. They show their affection by licking/grooming and by claiming people by rubbing against their legs. They really do get excited when I come home and have learned to predict and participate in our daily routines.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about fostering?
I would advise potential fosters to prepare for the most amazing experience of their life! They will need to have time to clean, space for the kitties, patience, intuition and tough skin. They need to be aware of the ugly side of fostering and accept that we are dealing with an at-risk population and sickness is common. They need to be prepared to identify, handle and treat sickness appropriately. I would also recommend that they become friends with other fosters so they can share stories and tips.
What is the process with new fosters?
When I first get cats, I isolate them in my bedroom with me and observe them for about two weeks. I do this to make sure that they are not showing any signs of sickness. After the two weeks and at least after their first round of vaccinations, I start to introduce them to the rest of the kitties in the house. It usually starts on an evening after work and I will open the bedroom door and let them roam. There is plenty of hissing as every kitty gets to sniff each other and then they will go back to the room for the night. It usually only takes about two days before everyone can coexist and get along.
Current foster cats with Valerie
What’s a typical morning routine with the fosters like?
The typical morning of a foster parent can be time-consuming. I wake up to 3-6 cats in the bed with me. When I get up, they all follow me to the kitchen. When it’s time for breakfast, I pull out one small bowl per kitty and put wet food in them. Then I try to put them all on the floor at the same time and quickly to avoid any kitties thinking they won’t get food! I isolate new families in a room alone, so then I have to go to each room and make sure they each have their own bowl and eat it too. If I have any sick kitties, I have to go around and give each of them their medicine. THEN I can start getting ready for my day.
Do you have a favorite foster story to share (besides Vesper)?
I had three tuxedo kittens named Annabelle, Marigold and Beau. We rescued them from the shelter when they were about six weeks old. These three and their siblings were rescued from an abusive home and were pretty shy at first. Beau was adopted at one of his first adoption events, but Anabelle and Marigold were with me for quite some time. In fact, I had them for about 9 months.
Every Saturday I would put them in the carrier and bring them to an adoption event. They both hated the events, but especially Anabelle. Anabelle was pretty shy in new places and with new people, and it took her some time to warm up to me. I became worried for her because she could be so shy. The sisters became a bonded pair, which meant they had to be adopted together because they had become so attached. This of course made it more difficult to adopt out, but I knew it would be best for them.
One Saturday morning Zach took them to an adoption event. I didn’t even say goodbye because they had been going for so long without anyone interested in them. About 20 minutes after he left, Zach called me and said they were being adopted! I was so upset that I didn’t say goodbye that I rushed over to the Petco as fast as I could with my clothes covered in cat fur and no makeup. The adopter said that morning that she wanted to adopt two sisters. And before Anabelle and Marigold were even put into the crates, she had decided they were for her. She went shopping and bought them all kinds of goodies, a cute litter box, a scratching post and lots of toys. I knew that they were going to the best furrever home!
And just for fun…
You’re stuck on a deserted island with only one cat friend – Grumpy Cat, Lil Bub or Maru?
MARU! Because I admire his ambition and youthfulness! And at the very least, his company would be entertaining.
What would your cat super power be (can only be a feature that cats currently possess)?
My cat super power would be to leap very high and far!
Do you have a favorite rescue organization or charity?
Although I have yet to visit, I really love the Cat House on the Kings. They are a 12-acre no-kill cat sanctuary and adoption center.