The wonderful world of social media allows us to “meet” people that we never would in person – across countries and continents. Recently, one Instagram account caught my eye, and that was Meet_the_FostersLA. I followed the account because of 1) fostering, of course, and 2) the beautiful photography!
I reached out to the human behind the account and asked which organization she fosters for. And what a small world it is…Christina G. fosters kittens for Best Friends Animal Society in Los Angeles – the same rescue that I foster for!
Christina and I have never met, but we certainly share a passion for cats and fostering. We both just got started with fostering last year, so we’re relative newbies compared to some foster parents out there. But in addition to that, we also share an interest in taking photos of our cats! (Seriously, her photos are gorgeous!)
Now, let’s meet Christina and the kittens she has fostered so far!
A Conversation with Christina
How did you get into fostering?
The power of Instagram! After starting an Instagram account for my cat a few years ago, I started following cats, rescues and fosters. At first, it was just to see cute cat pictures! Then I started to realize the importance of what places like Best Friends LA, Kitten Rescue and NKLA are doing for our city. I currently live in Los Angeles and their goal is to become 100% no-kill.
To do this, Best Friends is taking in cats and kittens from all of the high-risk shelters to be sure that these lives are saved. To keep taking in animals, they need our help! By fostering even just one kitten or cat, you open up space at their shelter for them to be able to save more lives. So you literally are saving lives by helping. Being in a home environment is also very beneficial for the animal as they learn how to socialize and get some extra one-on-one time.
Do you have any cats of your own?
I have one resident cat named Joey who I adopted in 2012. She was three years old and had raised a litter of kittens in the shelter before I met her. While she may look grumpy with her death stares and piercing green eyes, she is the sweetest (and cuddliest!) cat I’ve ever met. She’s definitely a super meowdel!
What surprised you the most about fostering kittens?
I think it surprised me how much I bonded with each one. It does feel like you had a part in raising them. I’ve had kittens at different ages for different reasons. All of them have gone through so much to get to me. Each one has a story and you really do feel like you’re a chapter in their book. Oh, and it also surprised me how sharp their teeth and nails are!!!
What is the hardest part about fostering?
So far, the hardest part about fostering has been bringing them back. My first foster was a singleton. When I got Quasi, she was seven weeks old, underweight and had a cold. She wouldn’t touch her wet food and didn’t eat enough of the kibble to gain weight. After some online research and some trickery, I was able to get her to eat wet food and she started gaining that weight.
After all we went through together and being a first-time foster parent, taking her back to the shelter felt awful! Part of it was a feeling of guilt and the other part was not knowing how long she would be there before getting adopted. While she was waiting for her spay surgery in the lobby of BFLA, someone fell in love with her and she got to go to her forever home right after the surgery!
Once she was adopted, it felt like my job with her was complete. I felt better about the process. All in all, it was the fear of the unknown. It’s still not easy to give them back, but it’s with a purpose to raise them and get them on their way to a forever home that keeps you going back for more!
What advice would you give to someone thinking about fostering?
You can do it! Tailor your foster experience to your lifestyle. For example: I have a full-time job, so I ask for weaned kittens that do not need to be bottle-fed. I live in an apartment with a cat who is not fond of other animals, therefore, I wanted to start off with just 1-2 kittens at a time so I could easily keep them separated in my small apartment. I also take time between sets of fosters to be sure my resident cat gets a break and some special one-on-one time. The Best Friends LA foster team is really great about setting you up with kitten(s) that suit your needs and abilities and being there for any questions or concerns you may have. Additionally, there are so many resources online for fostering. I binge watched a lot of Kitten Lady’s videos before I got my first foster!
Do you have a favorite or funny foster story to share?
I loved fostering a set of sisters that I had. At first, I thought they were not bonded because they rarely cuddled unless they were fighting for space on my lap. Neda, the bigger of the two, could get anywhere she wanted and used that to her advantage, while Naseem was tiny and liked to be cozy in their bed with blankets and a rice heating pad to keep her warm. Neda being larger, bullied Naseem a bit but as soon as Naseem got a little older, she definitely fought back! I think it surprised Neda and she would have the cutest little whining meow. Like “save me”! It was so fun to watch these girls grow and change. In the end, I realized they were actually bonded. Just like sisters. They fought, then cuddled, then fought some more. I was so happy when they ended up getting adopted together!
What’s a fun fact about yourself?
I’m actually VERY allergic to cats! The first 6-9 months of adopting Joey were tough on my asthma and allergies, but I finally figured out what medicine combo worked best for me to control both. While I do have to take medicine every day, it is quite under control. In the midst of figuring out how not to die from living with a cat, I became a certified cat lady obsessed with her cat!
What’s your 9 to 5 job?
I am a Revenue Manager for a large hotel company. I work 50+ hours a week. Kitten (and cat!) therapy is essential to my work/life balance!
You take such beautiful photos of your fosters. Do you have an interest in photography?
I have always loved taking pictures. Nothing professional but it is the reason I started the Instagram account for my resident cat, Joey. It was just a fun way to get out some creative energy by taking and editing pictures of my very sassy and photogenic cat.
Once I started fostering, it was an obvious choice to start taking pictures of the fosters in hopes that someone may come across my Instagram feed and decide that they would like to adopt one of them. It also allows me to create hashtags for each foster to provide to Best Friends LA in hopes of passing them on to the adopters. Adopters would then be able to see pictures of their newly adopted cat as a wee little kitten!