You’ve probably seen a post on Facebook or maybe heard a radio ad by your local animal shelter pleading for new foster homes because despite how much we love dogs and cats, there is still a huge pet homelessness problem. Staggeringly, there are about 70 million stray animals living in the U.S. and only about six to eight million cats and dogs of that 70 million enter the nation’s 3,500 shelters every year, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
Even while a number of U.S. residents already opt to adopt rather than shop for their feline and canine companions, a large majority still choose to go for animals from breeders, whether full bred or a designer mix. To help combat the pet overpopulation crisis, fostering an animal is one of the most hands-on ways a person can help pet homelessness.
Shelters need foster families when an animal cannot be adopted immediately because they are too young, have medical or behavioral issues, or the shelter is simply overcrowded. Regardless if you open up your home to a dog, cat, bird, small pets, pig, any pet, you can feel wonderful knowing you have saved a life and cared for a pet who will soon find his or her forever home.
But fostering an animal can seem daunting. How long will the animal need to stay with me? What if my animals don’t get along with them? How am I going to say goodbye when I have to return them? All valid questions! Thankfully, animal shelters offer an abundance of support and resources to foster parents and thanks to the power of social media, dozens of people are helping to show how great fostering truly is.
If you’re on the fence about fostering an animal, meet some of these amazing foster parents hoping to educate and inspire!
1. Hannah Shaw
You know the silly “Crazy Cat Lady” stereotype? Well, what’s crazy about wanting to help animals?
Hannah Shaw, also known as The Kitten Lady, is aiming to break down the negative stereotypes while raising awareness for the plight faced by orphaned kittens.
The Kitten Lady/Facebook
Like any baby, animal or human, orphan newborn kittens (aged eight weeks and under), are an extremely vulnerable population. They cannot generate their own body heat, they cannot go to the bathroom on their own, they cannot groom themselves, and require specialized knowledge and overnight care that most shelters are not equipped to handle. Unless a foster parent who is experienced in handling newborns steps in, most orphan newborn kittens are euthanized before close of business the day that they are brought in to shelters.
In a recent video, Hannah shows the “nitty gritty” of what it’s like to foster kittens. You weigh them, help them pee/poop, feed them, clean them and then give them a kiss. Kiss optional, but highly recommended!
Shaw’s end goal is something we all can get behind: to end the unnecessary euthanization of kittens everywhere. To learn more about The Kitten Lady, visit her official website. For educational and rescue videos, check out her YouTube channel. You can also follow her on Facebook and on Instagram for instant cuteness!
2. Chris Poole
Through multiple platforms, such his YouTube channel, Chris seeks to raise awareness for kittens everywhere by sharing stories of rescued kittens and providing educational videos.
Chris also shares videos and photos of his own two kitties, Cole and Marmalade. Cole and Marmalade are so popular that they even have their own YouTube channel with half a million subscribers. The channel features rescue stories and informational videos, such as how to brush your cat’s teeth!
3. Beth Stern
American actress and author (oh, and Howard Stern’s wife), Beth Stern is a committed foster kitten mama.
With over 359,000 followers on Instagram, Stern delights her followers every day with precious photos of her foster cats and kittens, as well as the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the adoption!
Beth shares daily photos of her current foster cuties. Who wouldn’t want to wake up to all this adorable fluff?!
You could have a nugget just like this little one in your house if you foster… just saying!
Sometimes Howard makes an appearance on Beth’s Instagram but lets be honest, what people really want to see are the cats. The Sterns have fostered over a whopping 300 animals over the years. It’s refreshing to see a high powered couple not just give money, but instead get hands-on by housing kittens in their house.
To follow Beth and get daily cat photos on your Instagram feed, click here!
Feeling Inspired? Here’s How You Can Foster, Too
Each organization will have their own set of requirements and paperwork for becoming a pet foster parent, so you will need to check with the shelter you want to foster for. There are common need-to-knows that include making sure you meet foster requirements, being physically able to care for an animal, and attending an orientation and foster training.
The foster program will select a good match for you, your family and other pets you may have in the home based on meeting and the answers given on your foster application. From educating yourself on the kind of animal to the foster pet’s individual needs, the things you need to know before becoming a pet foster parent can be similar to that of adopting.
Make sure you provide a quiet space where your foster pet can have a bit of alone time if needed, especially if you have other pets in your home. Always introduce pets to each other slowly so no one becomes overwhelmed, and know that there can be an adjustment period when another animal is introduced into a home. The organization you’re fostering for will be able to provide helpful tips that can make the transition easy for everyone involved.
Even if you cannot foster or adopt, you can still help kittens. Participate in your local trap-neuter-release program to ensure that no unwanted kittens are born or use your social media accounts to raise awareness about the importance of adoption and spaying or neutering your pets.
Lead image source: Kitten Lady/Facebook