During the months of July and August of 2011, I had the opportunity to foster two newborn kittens for the Monmouth County SPCA. They came into the shelter flea infested, and dehydrated after someone picked them up off the side of the road. The vets at the shelter estimated that they were about three days old. Because they were so young, I ended up bottle-feeding them, every two hours around the clock, for about two weeks. As the days went on, I watched these babies grow into playful kittens. Unfortunately, one of the kittens got sick, and he did not survive. The other one however, grew up to be a healthy kitten, and was eventually adopted. Fostering was one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences that I’ve ever done, and the SPCA is always looking for potential foster parents!
Now that spring is here, the local animal shelters are beginning to prepare for their busiest time of their “Kitten Season.” Between the months of March and August, there will be an overflow of kittens coming in and out through the SPCA doors. Many of these babies are too young to be away from their mothers, so if the shelter has a cat who already has a litter of kittens that are close to the orphans in age, they will try to see if the cat will accept them as her own, otherwise, the staff will ask one of their volunteers, or take them in themselves, to bottle feed and hand raise these babies.
Fostering is a huge commitment. Depending on the age of the kittens and the size of the litter, you may be up all night for the first couple of weeks in order to take care of these little ones. Kittens under two weeks of age have to be fed every two hours around the clock, and this can be time consuming, but there is a huge reward for your time and effort–unconditional love and companionship. These kittens will stay with their foster parents until they are at least 6 weeks of age, which is when they will go back to the shelter to get their first round of immunization shots, and an overall health check. When they are at least 8 weeks old, and over two pounds, the kittens will return to the shelter and be spayed/neutered and they will be put up for adoption. It is a really rewarding experience, and if you are interested in becoming a foster parent, please contact your local animal shelter for more information about what type of foster program they have!