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Fostering kittens can become part of your life for years if you decide to give it a try.

A couple from San Diego is preparing for an amazing milestone –They’re ready to foster their 150th kitten this spring kitten season! After years of volunteer and donor efforts, they have been recognized in the San Diego Tribune for going above and beyond for kittens. 

Betsy Huntingdon and Jim Mott have been helping the San Diego Humane Society since 2007, racking up 10,222 volunteer hours. Thanks to people like them, the shelter helps 4,000 kittens a year. Many of those kittens arrive with the spring, requiring round-the-clock care to survive. As they grow, the foster parents help socialize the kittens, ensuring they will have the best chance to find forever homes.

Kitten with bottle

Image Screenshots via YouTube, SDHumaneSociety

Fostering Kittens with Allergies

Amazingly, it may surprise you that Huntington, 48, is allergic to cats and dogs, and Mott, 50, considers himself more of a dog person. 

“Allergy shots are amazing,” Huntington said.

At a friend’s suggestion, they gave fostering kittens a try 15 years ago.

“I did not know about fostering,” she said. “I wanted to get cats, but I am allergic. So this was a way to see how I do without the long-term commitment,” Huntington said. 

Betsy Huntingdon and Jim Mott

Betsy Huntingdon and Jim Mott via San Diego Tribune

Starting Out

First, they took in healthy kittens between 6 and 7 weeks old. At that age, they were easier to care for, needing socialization. For example, they introduce kittens to different people of all ages and expose them to the sights and sounds of typical households. 

“We had a couple of siblings who were a lot of fun,” Huntingdon said. “We learned a lot and with every litter learn more.”

Foster kittens, fostering kittens, San Diego

🍼 Fostering Kittens as a Lifestyle 🍼

After success with the siblings, they wanted to foster more, moving on to kittens as young as a week old. Eventually, they took in kittens with medical needs. Other times, they take in the momma cat, or queen, allowing her to care for the litter as much as possible.

“If we get the mama that is the best case … as she does all the work,” Huntingdon said.

“We can’t take better care than the queen,” Mott added.

Now, they foster kittens as part of their lifestyle; one that turns them into zombies in the first week. That’s when they need to feed newborn kittens overnight, in the late evening, and early morning. 

“It is a lifestyle,” Mott said. “Depending on the age of the kittens, if we get newborns, they need to be fed and cared for every three to four hours, 24 hours a day. … You are a zombie the first week.”

Foster kittens, fostering kittens, San Diego

Despite being zombies for a week or so, the effort is rewarding.

“I think a lot of the work is also very rewarding,” Mott said. “We see the kittens grow, depending on us when they start at 1- to 2-weeks old with bottle feedings. But it is amazing to see their development within a month. They go from completely helpless to eventually following you, playing, sitting in your lap. Overall it is an experience to enjoy as it goes fast.”

The Hardest Part of Fostering

As anyone who fosters kittens can tell you, there are setbacks, and losing a kitten is always heartbreaking. Among the hardest parts is also saying goodbye, allowing the babies you’ve cared for to find new homes. Sometimes, it results in a “foster fail,” a kitten adopted permanently by the foster parents.

In Huntingdon and Mott’s case, their first foster fail came at kitten number 86 in 2018, an orange cat named Max. Then, Max needed a friend, so a kitten from another litter named Rusty came to stay forever. 

“We had a single, Max, and he spoke to Jim, who said, ‘I can’t give him up,'” Huntingdon recalled. “So we had to get him a friend.”

Rusty and Max

Rusty and Max via San Diego Tribune, Courtesy of San Diego Humane Society

By adopting a pair, the kittens can often be much easier to care for, playing and working out all that wild kitteny energy with one another.

Today, they are 3-years-old and love being together. However, Max and Rusty also help with socializing any newly-arrived furbabies.

Rusty and Max

Rusty and Max were orphaned single foster kittens, two weeks apart in age.

🌷 Spring Kitten Season 🌷

If you are interested in fostering or adopting kittens, reach out to your local animal shelters. In the springtime, they often need all the help they can get with fostering kittens. As this San Diego couple shows, caring for kittens can become a rewarding experience you’ll enjoy for years to come.

Three cheers for Betsy Huntingdon and Jim Mott for all they have done to help kittens! 🏆

In the San Diego area, learn more on Facebook and see the video below.

Video by SDHumaneSociety:

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