Karen Simpson thought she wanted to be a foster parent for children in need but was afraid that she would have a difficult time letting them go after forming a bond and bringing them into her own home to live. She decided that she would start by fostering dogs and see how she did. After visiting the Washington County – Johnson City Animal Shelter and finding out that the dogs were being adopted quickly enough from the shelter that there was no current need for dog fosters, Karen was asked if she would be interested in fostering kittens. Karen wasn’t planning to foster cats, or kittens for that matter, but decided to give it a shot because she was shocked by the enormous number of cats and kittens in the shelter. The shelter had no more room for any cats and was completely full. Even though she wasn’t a cat person, Karen decided that since the shelter was full of cats and kittens and that there was a possibility that healthy cats/kittens could be euthanized she would give them a chance by saving their lives and taking them into her home temporarily.
Last October, Karen started with just four kittens. But as more and more came into the shelter, there was more and more need for foster homes. At one point, Karen was up to 22 cats and kittens at one time. This was because 3 pregnant mama cats gave birth at her house, two that had litters just hours apart. Karen has fostered a total of 68 cats and kittens from the Washington County – Johnson City Animal Shelter.
Karen was amazed by the fact that there are so many more kittens than the ones featured in the adoption area…the shelter has an entire nursery for kittens that are sick and too young to be adopted. Karen wants to help spread the word that there are so many more that they don’t see that need foster homes. In foster homes, the kittens have a better opportunity to flourish because they are not stressed and can be loved on and socialized.
Karen’s family has graciously taken on a great deal of monitory responsibility, as well as, a great deal of time commitment keeping up with the cats and kittens she fosters. It is usually a minimum of 6 hours a day spent with the kittens. It’s a lot of work; scooping litter boxes, feeding (sometimes even formula from a bottle), cleaning cages, socializing the kittens and loving on them so that they are more adoptable when they go back to the animal shelter. Karen’s Husband and son both love to visit with the kittens too, cuddling them and helping to socialize them, but most of the work all falls on Karen ‘s shoulder.
The most rewarding part of the fostering experience for Karen so far has been when the kittens come to her house so small and fragile and she’s worried that they could not make it. Then they make it to two pounds & 8 weeks old and can go back to the shelter healthy and adoptable to find their forever homes.
It’s still difficult for Karen to let the kittens go back to the shelter but she says it’s easier when there’s an entire litter but when they come to her individually she has a hard time giving them back.
Out of the 68 kittens, Karen has kept one, her name is Bella. They brought her back to the shelter when she was healthy and 8 weeks old so that she could be adopted. But, 24 hours later Karen got a text message that Bella wasn’t doing great due to her drastic change in her environment and decided to bring her back to her house permanently. Karen says that Bella chose her family.
Being a foster relieves a lot of burden on the shelter from young motherless kittens that need around the clock care. Without fosters the shelter isn’t equipped to manage these kittens and thank goodness there are people like Karen that are willing to be foster parents to cats and kittens. For Karen, this has been so rewarding that she hasn’t yet moved on to fostering children. She plans to continue to foster kittens in need and says can’t say no to their sweet little faces. She knows that she has saved 68 lives already and that number will continue to grow.