Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Interview with a Fosterer - Whiskers In the Window

Part two of my series "Interview with a Fosterer" is of Kelly from Whiskers In the Window.  I am always accepting submissions.  If you foster, I'd love to interview you!

Introduce yourself and where do you hail from?  Kelly from Michigan, by way of Michigan, Idaho, Germany, Ohio, and Michigan… I’m an Air Force wife ;-)  I currently live with three human children, aged 15, 13, and 11.  The furry faces include Simba (10 year old tubby orange tabby), Norman (12 year old bony black cat), and Charlie (an incredibly youthful 7 year old chocolate lab).

What rescue group, shelter or sanctuary do you foster forFutures 4 Felines, a small rescue group in SE Michigan.  We are a handful of fosters doing the best we can for kitties in need.

What kinds of animals do you normally foster?  Kittens!  Ages and stages really don’t matter to me, but Simba seems to take issue with adults (especially males who are close to his size or bigger).  The last thing I need is for the “Pee-palooza” to start again so I’m trying to restrict our guests to mamas and kittens, but occasionally I will take in a young gentleman who needs me for a short period of time.
Bite-y Clay
How did your adventure being a fosterer begin?  During our last military move, we found ourselves selling a house in this terrible market.  It took close to a year to list, sell, and close the sale of our old house.  It was during that time that we lost our 18-year-old cat Einstein to renal failure and our 15-year-old black lab Grizzly to bone cancer.  Moving time is NOT the time to adopt new animals, so I spent a lot of time online dreaming about new babies and learning about animal rescue.  I volunteered at our local Humane Society and hugged abandoned cats.  When we finally moved to our new location, I discovered that our new veterinarian worked in partnership with a rescue organization (and most of the people who work in the clinic foster animals from time to time).  Our new house had many more rooms than I had furniture to fill it, so instead of buying furniture I decided to buy cat beds instead.  The vet put me into contact with Paula and I had my first foster kitty within a couple weeks.

Hudson and Bentley

How do you keep yourself from becoming too attached to the fosters you help? And have you ever adopted one?  HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa!!!!  Anyone who follows my blog knows that I spent the past several weeks wrestling with the decision to let a baby from my most recent litter leave my little nest (I did).  I have not yet succumbed to foster failure, but I can certainly understand it.  The best way I have to not get too attached is to simply remind myself daily that I am but a stop along the way to their forever home.  I was a teacher before my kids were born.  My students were never my kids.  It was simply my job to care for and nurture them during the short time they were in my classroom… and important job, but one that’s meant to be temporary.  In the same way, I know when the kittens arrive that they are not mine to keep and that their true family is waiting for them.  It helps that I already have so much chaos at home… husband frequently gone, 3 teenagers (okay, the youngest is only 11 but she has been a teenager for years), and 3 senior pets in the house.  It isn’t fair to my seniors to keep a kitten and it’s not fair to the kitten to keep them without a playmate.  I’ll never say never, but for the moment it works to keep telling myself that whenever I need a kitten fix, the rescue will provide.

Charlie and Malibu

What is most frustrating for you as a foster?  There are always so many more kitties in need than I have room to provide.  I’m not known for saying no.  If I think there’s the slightest chance that I can handle something, I’ll agree to try it.  At one point, I had 14 foster cats in my house… five 6 week old kittens in the foster room, three sick 5 month old kittens in my family room, and a mama with her 5 newborn babies in my kids’ bathroom.  It was too much.  I was overwhelmed and it broke my heart to admit that I couldn’t do it all.  But the frustrating part is that I shouldn’t have to do it all.  Responsible pet ownership… spay/neuter/not abandoning pets because life got too hard… would fix so many of our problems.  I love my fosters, but wouldn’t it be nice if for once we weren't needed?  So much less stressful than turning animals away!

What is most rewarding?  Kisses from a formerly fraidy cat kitten, having an entire litter come running when you open the door, finding their forever family… I cry for myself when they get adopted, but that’s the whole point isn’t it?

What experience moved or inspired you the most?  I’m relatively new to the foster world, so I’m not sure that I’ve had that specific moment yet.  Putting Clay (the kitten that I almost kept) into his new mama’s arms and watching her eyes fill up with tears came pretty close.  Roxie’s new family was pretty joyously overwhelmed when they held her for the first time too. 

Do you have pets of your own? How do they respond to the foster animals?  Oh yes.  Simba, the 10-year-old tubby orange tabby, is the alpha cat in the household.  He’s loud and in charge.  He’s (mostly) bluster though.  When the babies are around, he simply goes to higher ground and watches.  Simba prefers not to interact with the fosters and we accept that.  Norman, the 12-year-old bony black cat, is the quiet observer.  He’s mostly interested in the fosters for their food (and would prefer the kittens not sniff him while he is stealing from their plate).  Charlie, the 7-year-old chocolate lab loves the kittens.  For a crazy, bouncy, Tigger-type dog, he is unfailingly gentle with the babies.  He lets them call the shots and is excited to be their friend.  Most of the kittens return the feeling.

What advice can you give to someone who might be wanting to become a foster?  It’s not always as cute and pretty as it looks on the internet!  Kittens get sick, more often than you think.  It’s not as simple as having the room; you have to have the time and patience to deal with things when it gets tough.  Also, don’t be afraid to establish limits and stick to them.  You are the only one who knows what you can handle.  It’s okay to say no.  You will never be able to save every animal, so do your best helping the ones that you can. 
Charlie meeting Henry and Porter

When you are not saving animals what do you like to do? Ummmmmm…. Between raising animals and raising kids, there isn’t much time left over for Mom.  It’s a discussion that my husband and I have frequently.  I need to figure out what I like to do so I can carve out my own identity away from all of the little creatures who depend on me.  Right now, I’m thinking about photography.  I have always loved taking pictures, and the thrill that I get out of taking a good one is amazing.  I’m looking into new cameras and photography classes.  If I can find a way to make money off it, that means more kitten chow for everyone!

And now the questions from Inside the Actors Studio:

What is your favorite word? Fork, for the way it sounds; Home, for the feeling it evokes.
What is your least favorite word? Oh God… ringworm (to be followed closely by fleas)
What turns you on? Sadly, a clean house and the smell of cleaning products (I suppose it wouldn’t be so exciting if I didn’t currently share my house with 3 children, 11 cats, and a dog)
What turns you off? Whining Why do people have to whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine?
What sound or noise do you love?  Purring
What sound or noise do you hate?  Can I say whining again?  If you need another one, repetitive sloppy sniffling drives me out of my mind.
What is your favorite curse word?  I’m a fan of most of them lately. 
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Photography... between the artistic process, the memories immortalized, and making people smile, spending time as a photographer seems like happy way to spend my day.
What profession would you not like to do?  Telemarketing… it must feel terrible to be that person that no one wants to hear from.
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?  Well done.  Here is your room.  Einstein and Grizzly have been waiting for you.


  1. I love this interview with a fosterer idea, it's so interesting. I guess it must be for you too. I particularly like the 'interview with a fosterer' poster/image at the top too :)

    Love Whiskers in the Window too :)

  2. What a great interview. Purring is a favorite sound of mine too. :)

  3. Yeah, I too think purring is the best sound.

  4. Hey Connie... I just sent you pictures. This is what I get for not checking my e-mail yesterday ;-) Thanks for featuring us here (and thank you to everyone who reads over at my place and loves my kittens too!)

  5. LOVE IT!!!! We follow Kelly and are big supporters. :) I think every potential foster home should have to talk to an experienced foster home before getting started. Good job!

  6. A great interveiw Connie,Please when you get the chance could you pop round as Speedy has given you an award,Speedy's mum

  7. GREAT interview! And we agree with the least fave words. *shudder*!!

  8. Enjoyed this interview, very much! Agree with purring :)

  9. What a great interview!

    Nubbin wiggles,

  10. I think people who foster are amazing and I am sure there is a special place in heaven for them! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Great interview. Fostering must be both very happy and sad at the same time. I am really glad that there are so many decicated people to do it. Thank you so much for your kind words about Herman. I appreciate your thoughts.

  12. Great interview and even greater pictures! Thanks for sharing.


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