Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fostering homeless animals: many possibilities, opportunities for pet and human

flickr photo courtesy of TerryJohnston

It's no secret that the number of homeless and unwanted pets is difficult to manage for humane societies, shelters and rescues alike. Typically there are opportunities for people to foster animals at their homes, and the rewards can be momumental for both pet and human. In Rikke Jorgensen's article "The Joy of Dog Fostering" in the current The Bark magazine illustrates the scenario of fostering well, giving a glimpse into the lives of foster families. For the animals, just the tip of the iceberg is getting the one-on-one attention that they receive in a household setting, a reduction in the exposure to stress. For the humans, the rewards are limitless.

Many animals being considered for fostering have physical challenges or illnesses - which, when they are housed in a traditional shelter-type setting can make it difficult to heal or thrive. Others are advanced in age; shelters can be hard on them, too. Being fostered provides a more settled environment for these animals so, perhaps they can heal, overcome physical challenges and allow them to put their best foot forward, get adopted and stay in a permanant home.

Cathy Theisen wrote a blog post last week on that resonated with me. It's a bit unrelated, but it got me thinking. There is a significant need for foster families - with specifically one species of animal - cats - in need of care. The subject of Theisen's blog I think probably represents a vast part of our elderly population: they would like to get a pet, but due to things like their age, cost concerns of lifelong ownership make it perhaps, prohibitive in their mind.

After making a comment on Cathy's post, the idea kept mulling over in my mind. Cats are in most cases more physically manageable for an older person to care for. Having the companionship of a cat - even in a temporary situation - can be a healthy, pleasurable experience for the human. A feline in a shelter situation would benefit greatly from a calm, stable and loving home that give them the little bit extra that they need to be at their best for adoption - a perhaps if they are timid or difficult to place.

Why wouldn't a senior be a great foster "parent" for a shelter cat, especially if the person is experienced with pets?

Lorrie Shaw is owner of Professional Pet Sitting as well as a regular pets contributor on She enjoys researching solutions regarding pet wellness and behavior, as well as social issues related to pets.

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