Why Our Family Provides Respite Foster Care for Rescue Cats

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Grey kitty with siamese markings staring into space

Why Our Family Provides Respite Foster Care for Rescue Cats

“Mama, pleeeeeeease, can we get a cat?” Our two girls issued this desperate plea hundreds of times over several years, and still, my husband and I wouldn’t budge. Our frequent travels precluded us from keeping pets, yet we wanted our kids to know the joy of animal companionship. What to do? As a birthday present for our oldest, we signed up to volunteer with SOL at the PetSmart centers. During one of our shifts, the respite care section of SOL’s fostering brochure caught my eye. “I can do this!” I thought.

What is Respite Care for Foster Kitties?

At SOL respite care means temporarily caring for fully vetted rescue kitties in your home. All food, supplies and veterinary care is provided by Saving One Life. You provide the love, care, and supervision of the kitty.
SOL uses respite care for kitties that need a place to go for any of the following reasons:

  1. Kitty needs a break from PetSmart Adoption Center
  2. A kitty is fully vetted and is waiting for space in PetSmart’s Adoption Center
  3. We want to see how kitty does in a different family dynamic
  4. Kitty returns to us from a previous adoption (often times when an owner passes).
Grey and white tabby cat

Why Choose Respite Care?

When I first met Carrie, she said she was excited for our help as many fosters aren’t interested in respite care. “Why doesn’t EVERYONE want to do this?” I wondered. What a perfect fit for our nomadic lifestyle! Respite care is so flexible. With stays ranging from just a few days to a maximum of several months, our fosters have always fit perfectly into our out-of-town schedule. The girls liken it to borrowing books from the library – we check one out when we’re home and turn it back in when it’s time to leave. And since we welcome so many kitties in a relatively short amount of time, we get a glimpse of myriad personalities.

Sixteen Foster Kitties Later!

It’s been about a year and a half since we joined the rescue, and we just bid farewell to our 16th foster. (I keep a folder on my computer to help hold the memories.) We’ve enjoyed so many firsts:

  • Gemma – our first foster (who hid inside the couch for three days and we thought we lost her)

  • Mocha – our first one-eyed senior needing meds (and the first my kids asked to have back)

  • Avi – our first stray (that we named and vetted, even though it was undoubtedly out of the respite realm; oh, how I cried letting that sweet boy go)

  • Lady Esther – our first challenge (she wouldn’t allow any of us near her, except for my anxious 11-yr-old, whose confidence was, in turn, boosted 2,000%)

  • Mesh Mesh – the first to terrorize our fish tank

  • “Grizzly” – the first (and only) to squeeze himself into a 4″ x10″ opening three feet off the ground to take cover from us in a bathroom cabinet (he looked like that movie scene when ET hides in the closet with all the stuffed animals)

  • Freedom – our first SOL “return” kitty (she was so soft!)

  • Smudge – the first to show us that little can be mighty

  • Daisy – our first discussion with our kids that, just like people, pets can get lost amid relationship struggles
  • Lucy Mills – the first who my “not a cat person” husband took selfies with (he also added ice cubes to her water and napped with her daily)
  • Drogo – our first almost foster fail (he followed us everywhere)
  • Prince & Axl Rose – our first pair (also first to climb the bedroom curtains)
  • Hank – our first “talker.”
  • Broadway – our first REALLLLY TRULY almost foster fail (also champion cuddler and bird watcher)
  • April – the first to rescue us from our first realllly truly almost foster fail

Sixteen kitties in about as many months. Sixteen lives who have changed us more than we have theirs. We look forward to the firsts that all the rest will bring. Each tells a story, and each reminds us of so much that we still have to learn.

Saying Goodbye is Hard and Rewarding

As with any foster, it’s always hard to say goodbye. But letting them go stretches us and helps us to love them as fiercely as we can for the little window in which they’re ours. I’m so grateful for all the respite fosters who have passed through our home since joining SOL. I love how so many come to us like shadows, hiding behind the couch, then quietly grow to trust our family right onto the bed at night. They each steal a little piece of our hearts when they go, but we know that perfect home is out there somewhere.

Apply today to become a Respite Foster Care Provider!

Please adopt, don’t shop! You can find a list of our adoptable cats and kittens here.

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