Cathy Carlson has been fostering cats on and off for about 20 years, but she retired in early 2014 so she could foster neonatal kittens full-time! Cathy currently fosters for Ventura County Animal Services in Southern California.
A Conversation with Cathy
How did you get into fostering?
I saw the need for fostering and socializing kittens that were set to be TNR’d (trapped-neutered-return). Logically I know that TNR is so very important, but the thought of putting small kittens back on the street or backyard where they were found really tore at my heart. I knew that I had to help in saving theses kittens so that they did not have to be returned to the streets at such an early age. It is the least I could do for them. Fostering meant one less litter being put back on the streets.
Approximately how many cats have you fostered?
65 since 2012.
What surprised you the most about fostering?
How rewarding and heartfelt it is. When you get the call to pick up a tiny day(s) old kitten or litter, you automatically begin to fall in love. Then when you see them for the first time, your heart melts. The bond between a bottle baby and its foster mom is like no other.
What is the hardest part about fostering?
Because I foster neonates, losing one little life is the hardest. Each neonatal kitten that comes into my care is a fragile little soul and there is always the possibility that you may lose one. When one passes over the rainbow bridge, it knew tons of love, had a full belly and a warm bed. Knowing that this kitten passed being loved and held by me through its passing instead of alone under a bush or cold street doesn’t take the pain away, but it makes it easier for me to process the pain.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about fostering?
Close your eyes, hold your breath and jump in! With each foster, your heart will melt and you will love each one of them, and that’s what will make you a great foster. Letting them go is the best gift you can give to yourself, the cat and the adoptive families. It’s because of our love for each of these little souls, and our desire to save so many lives, that we can let these little ones go into their own homes where they will be the center of someone’s life. Once you see the adoptive family, the excitement on their faces and the love in their hearts, you will know the true gift of fostering.
Have you had any foster fails?
Yes, two (Oliver and Mozzie). I have had cats all my life and as an adult, I have a 3-cat only rule. I stick to this rule so that I don’t run out of foster space.
Will you tell us about your resident crew at home?
I adopted Dexter as a kitten. When he was a little over one year old, I felt he needed a friend, so I adopted Murphy, who was seven months old. They became fast friends but never bonded.
Dexter could care less about my foster kittens, but Murphy was always curious about the kittens that came in. He particularly bonded with Oliver who was part of a litter of five. Oliver became part of our household, and he and Murphy were inseparable.
Sadly, last year in May, I lost my beloved Murphy. Oliver was beside himself with grief and would look and call out to Murphy several times a day. July of last year, I took in a two-day-old bottle baby singleton.
Oliver became curious about her from the moment I brought her home. He would not stay away from her. He was madly in love with this two-day-old. He slept by her crate and made sure I picked her up with care and fed her properly. This little kitten brought Oliver out of his grief and made him happy again. She is nine months old now and rules Oliver and Dexter. Murphy brought her to us.
Do you have a favorite foster story to share?
So many come to mind, but I would have to say my favorite would be Mozzie. She has brought such love, joy and healing to our household during a time when we were all in shock over losing our Murphy. She will never replace him, but boy does she make us laugh.
What’s a fun fact about yourself?
I love my morning coffee, cats and have a couple cat tattoos to prove it.
Thank you so much to Cathy for sharing her wise words on fostering with us. She is a true inspiration and has touched the lives of so many foster kittens! If you would like to follow Cathy and her foster kitties, you can find her on Facebook and Instagram.
Cathy also has a livestream set up that you can find on Facebook and an Amazon Wish List that you can link to from Instagram.