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Columnist David Lazarus shared his reflections on “the fine art of kitten fostering” in a heartfelt piece in theLA Times.

The column tells the story of how vital and rewarding it is for people to foster kittens. Often, shelters are unable to care for bottle-fed kittens and depend entirely on foster homes.

“What many people might not realize is that public and private shelters rely on the community to help handle the thousands of orphaned or abandoned animals looking for a home,” Lazarus tweeted.

Often, shelters will help those willing to take on kitten fostering. Sometimes, they will offer free training and supplies such as formula, bottles, and even heating pads and blankets. Online, there are helpful videos to learn the ins and outs of raising kittens.

Kitten Fostering

Lazarus, generally a business columnist, speaks to the heartbreak felt by anyone who takes on the challenge to foster kittens. It can be challenging, and unfortunately, you may face the loss of a kitten through no fault of your own.

“Fostering baby animals is hard, I won’t sugarcoat it. You may be awake much of the night handling feedings. There’ll be messes. You’re constantly watching to make sure the little one isn’t underfoot or in danger,” Lazarus writes.

To date, Lazarus and his wife Ikuko have successfully fostered over a dozen kittens. To start, they began to help their son gain community service hours for school. Then, they discovered the joy of “babysitting with fur” “and “being there for another baby that wants only to love and be loved.”

 

Overcoming the Loss of a Kitten

Recently, the couple lost a 1-week old kitten, a heartbreaking experience.  

“Losing one — well, statistically speaking, it was inevitable. About half of bottle-fed kittens don’t make it. But knowing that doesn’t make it any easier,” he writes.

Despite the grief they felt, it didn’t stop them from opening their hearts to a new tiny life. Everyone who practices kitten fostering faces setbacks, even the experts.

“Don’t worry about making mistakes. The more you do it, the better you become. And don’t fret (too much) about little ones taking a turn for the worse,” he writes.

“There’s no shame when this happens,” she said. “It’s almost never your fault,” said Allison Cardona from L.A. Animal Care. 

A Kitten Named Lupin

After suffering a loss, the couple decided to open their hearts again. So, they decided to foster a kitten named Lupin. On social media, the writer is sharing Lupin’s story and enjoying every little milestone. 

“One of the joys of fostering kittens is watching their personalities develop. Lupin isn’t lacking in that department,” Lazarus says.

“Lupin gets in his morning workout after yesterday’s @latimes appearance,” the author tweeted.

“Lupin just celebrated his @latimes triumph by pooping behind the piano — the single heaviest object in the house.”

Kitten fostering with David Lazarus

Meanwhile, another kitty named Jupiter seemed to want a little more of the spotlight. 

‘Wait, I only appear near the bottom of the story?’

Jupiter the cat

Why Vulnerable Newborn Kittens Need Help

In the article, the manager of the shelter where Lupin came from talks about newborn kittens.

“Newborn kittens are the most vulnerable part of our shelter population,” said Dana Brown, general manager of L.A. Animal Services.

Regarding kittens, the staff may not have time for the required round-the-clock care and bottle feedings. At any given time, hundreds of dogs and cats can be looking for homes. Then, they face a difficult decision if the kitten can’t find a suitable home in time.

However, if someone cares for the kittens, even for a couple of days, it can make a big difference.

“Even if you foster for just a couple of days, it makes a difference,” said Allison Cardona from L.A. Animal Care and Control

Fostering Kittens with a Big Friendly Dog

To help raise Lupin, the family gets help from a “watchful, big-brother” named Teddy. He’s an 80-pound golden retriever and Saint Bernard mix the couple adopted from a shelter in 2014.

“The biggest revelation for us, though, was that Teddy not only wanted to be involved, he was good at it.”

Teddy the dog and Lupin the kitten

Raising Well-Adjusted Kittens 

Over the years, the couple learned that having Teddy near the kittens was a big selling point. Now, the kittens would be ready for more homes where a dog may live. Another thing they learned is that it’s easier to foster more than one kitten at a time. 

“It may sound counterintuitive, but fostering multiple kittens is easier than just one. They play together and keep one another amused. When one sleeps, they all sleep,” he writes.

“It was gratifying to finally share Teddy’s backstory. For me, it’s the heart of the piece,” Lazarus posted on Twitter.

Kitten fostering with David Lazarus

A Neverending Demand for Kitten Fostering

Today, animal shelters are full as people have returned pets they picked up during the pandemic. Other times, people bring in kittens with good intentions, not realizing the mother cat is not gone but nearby finding food. For these reasons and many others, there is a constant demand for those willing to try kitten fostering. 

After kittens are old enough, finding a kitten’s forever home is the ultimate reward for all the hard work and effort.

Teddy and Lupin

Perhaps, you or someone you know may consider caring for a kitten? Not only does it save tiny furry lives, but it changes the people who take on the challenges and occasional setbacks.

See our tips for becoming a kitty foster parent here.

Feature image: Twitter/David Lazarus

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