Article by Jessica Owen – CollingwoodToday
‘It’s hard not to fall in love with the little critters. It’s really nice,’ says Wasaga Beach couple of their experience fostering cats and kittens through the Georgian Triangle Humane Society
They’re cute and cuddly, but they can also be a lot of work.
As kitten season ramps up locally, the Georgian Triangle Humane Society is looking for a few good foster families to help deal with the influx of new animals.
Glen and Linda White have been fostering cats and kittens for the GTHS since 2019. In that time, 19 cats and kittens have come and gone from their home. Currently, the Wasaga Beach couple is fostering one orange and white cat Blinx, and her five three-month-old kittens until they’re ready to be adopted.
“Our last cat died, and we decided not to get any more. But I like cats, so it was easier to foster them,” said Linda. “We have them every once and a while, and I get my cat fix.”
As Linda and Glen are retired, they travel south for the winter, so owning another pet didn’t make sense for their lifestyle. However, with fostering, they are still able to have the pet experience without the long-term commitment. Glen says fostering is a good option for people who may have recently lost a pet, and aren’t quite ready yet to fully adopt.
“Also, if you have teenagers and you don’t quite know if they’re going to be responsible enough to look after a pet, this is a good way to find out,” he said.
Glen says the humane society provides food, litter, medicine, and any medical care foster cats and kittens might need, and provide support for any questions foster families might have along the way. Most kitten fosters arrangements last between 10 and 12 weeks before they’re ready for adoption, depending on the circumstances. Last year, 218 kittens were cared for by foster volunteers through the GTHS until they were old enough to find homes of their own.
“They walk you through how to give them medicine. They have a cat care person, and for the dogs as well. The support is there. They don’t just hand you a bunch of cats and say goodbye,” said Glen, with a laugh. “They show you how to do everything.”
While the Whites say it was a little difficult at first to give the kittens back once they’re ready to be adopted, over time it has become easier.
“The first lot we got were two little grey kittens,” said Linda. “It was super hard.”
“We were so emotional. When we dropped them off for their surgeries to get fixed, you can leave them after that. We insisted on coming back to pick them up,” said Glen, laughing. “Two days later they were adopted, and we sat in the driveway bawling our eyes out. It was like dropping your kids off at boarding school.”
The humane society allows foster families first pick if they end up wanting to adopt the kittens they’ve fostered, however Glen and Linda say they’ve managed to hold off on doing that, so far.
“You do have first dibs on adopting one before they go out,” said Glen. “Everyone loves the animals (at GTHS). You’d never find a better group of people, so you know (the kittens) are going to good homes.”
Part of the role of foster families is to litter train kittens, and prepare them for living in a home environment by getting them socialized. There are some challenges in raising baby animals.
“When you have four or five kittens you’re cleaning the litter every 10 minutes, and it smells,” Linda said. “But, once they’re about six weeks old they get more independent and trained, they are so cute.”
“They discover you by cuddling with you. They sit on your lap, or sleep on your shoulder. You start to see them play and chase things. Then, you have to start covering your furniture,” said Glen. “By the time they’re ready to climb curtains, they’re ready to adopt.”
“It’s freaking adorable,” he added.
While Glen says he used to be more of a dog person, his wife’s love of cats has inspired him to become a cat lover too.
“It’s been very fulfilling,” said Glen. “It’s hard not to fall in love with the little critters. It’s really nice.”
June is National Adopt a Shelter Cat Month. For more information about volunteering with the Georgian Triangle Humane Society, click here.