Three weeks ago I took Wendy as a foster through the Austin Pets Alive! Community Foster Program (CFP). Wendy was a 7 year old owner surrender to the shelter because of "too many cats." She was described by her former owners as a cat who "doesn't get along with other cats...has litterbox accidents...and has a flea problem." Wendy was also described as a Japanese Bobtail mix and a "clown" by the APA! evaluators. So, I signed up for the CFP and welcomed Wendy into my home.
The CFP allows people to foster animals from the shelter that aren't accepted to any formal foster program through rescue groups. The program, started last month, saves the life of an animal in the shelter, ensures they have appropriate medical care for 3 months at no cost, and provides the foster parent with all the marketing & adoption support needed to find the animal a forever home.
As part of the CFP, I took Wendy from the shelter to our medical facility to be tested and evaluated. She was microchipped, vaccinations verified, and treated for fleas - all at no cost to me. Had Wendy not already been spayed, the APA! medical team would have also scheduled her surgery. Once at my home she immediately let me hold her, brush her & rub her belly. She also allowed me to give her a bath and clip her nails. I discovered that she was underweight and "itchy" but I never saw any fleas. I bought some food to help her with her coat & itchy skin, Avoderm, which she ate gratefully. After I kept Wendy isolated for a few days in a bathroom with food, water & a litterbox, I let her interact with my own cats & dog. I never once heard her hiss or act out around them. She also never had any problems with the litterbox and was actually quite neat about it.
Quickly, I noticed that Wendy loved to snuggle. She would curl up under my arm while I would read a book and wanted to snuggle together on the couch to watch TV. She loved her cat bed and would nap there throughout the day, and all around was really a great cat.
I took her to a total of three APA! adoption events, and last Saturday was her lucky day! In fact, at an event FULL of baby kittens, Wendy was the first to go! I honestly have to say, though, that I was terribly sad to see her leave because I had grown quite fond of her. She had acclimated into my home quite well. I'm happy for Wendy and her new family, and the CFP was a wonderful experience for me. I know that I was able to give her a chance at a new home (and a chance to live) that she would not have had otherwise.
How Does the Community Foster Program Work?
Interested individuals complete an expedited foster application and pay a $100 deposit.
For three full months you (and the cat) have access to the APA! medical team.
Once your CF cat is spayed/neutered & healthy, you can sign up for adoption events and bring the foster cat.
The marketing team will also post an ad for your cat on the APA! website, and you can supplement with additional photos if you want.
If the cat is adopted within 3 months, you get a refund of your $100 deposit.
If your cat is not adopted within 3 months, you pay $25 and adopt the cat yourself.
Donations can also be made to the Community Foster Program Fund, which can encourage potential fosters to join the program who might not be able to pay the $100 deposit. In this case, the money goes back to the fund for the next person or can be applied toward the next animal for the same foster parent. If you are interested in the Community Foster Program, send an email to [email protected].
In general, I had always been skeptical about fostering animals. I always thought that fosters would always end up with way too many of their own pets because they would want to keep them all. All it took for me, though, was one fostering experience. The goal is always "Healthy. Happy. Home!" If you focus on getting the animal healthy, and behaviorally happy (so you can learn about their personality), it becomes so much easier to talk to prospective adopters about the animal. The end game is to always find the pet a forever home. Once I got my first foster adopted, I was elated! It was such a powerful and wonderful experience, and to see a new pet owner excited about having a new pet family member is truly amazing.