Foster Spotlight: Rocky

rocky“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

When Mahatma Ghandi uttered those profound words, he may have been anticipating the nobility of TKR, Toni’s Kitty Rescue.  It’s a cruel world out there, but we can take comfort from knowing that pockets of compassion exemplified by TKR are helping nudge the human race toward moral progress.

Fostering kittens (and on occasion their nursing moms) is fun, hard work, and sometimes very sad, but also tremendously rewarding; it’s the right thing to do (apologies to Wilford Brimley).

My first foster gig was about 14 years ago.  I had 3 little guys for about a month (Susie, Dexter and Spike), and when it came time to turn them in I was devastated; who knew you could get so attached?  But I was able to get through it by focusing on the fact that there will always be more kittens, they will all be just as lovable as those 3, and they desperately need us if they are going to survive.

Not all new fosters are able to crust over their feelings and move on. I know Toni gets very frustrated sometimes when she loses a foster parent because he/she just can’t stand to give up that first litter and adopts them.  That’s unfortunate, but I certainly get it: being an animal lover may come with some baggage.  I deal with it by focusing on all the future kittens that won’t have a chance if I don’t give up the present group for adoption.

Toni and ACC do a fine job of preparing new foster parents for the challenges of taking care of kittens. But what is sometimes even more helpful is how the fosters try to back each other up when logistics or other problems arise. Some are particularly good at bottle-feeding, some are very responsive with short notice baby-sitting, and some (I’m lookin’ at you Wendy) seem to possess a healing touch that is kind of miraculous in getting a fading kitten to start gaining weight.

Each littler is different, as is each foster’s home situation. I have the luxury of giving mine free access to bedroom, hallway, bathroom and kitchen. Some fosters have dogs or cats who help socialize the kittens (my girlfriend Linda’s 9-year-old male, a TKR alum, actually likes to clean the kittens…go figure).  But even if there is only a closet or bathroom to keep them in they can still thrive and become great pets if the foster parent truly cares for them, plays with them often, and calls for help or advice if something does not seem to be quite right.

I am extremely grateful to Toni, ACC, and especially the foster network for making this opportunity possible. It’s a wonderful thing they do, and Ghandi would be well pleased.

Rocky’s day job is flying as a test pilot for United Airlines. Besides fostering, he spends his spare time catching feral cats for the SPCA’s Trap/Neuter/Return program (TNR). He specializes in moms with kittens, and has gotten many of his little fosters this way. He would be happy to share his tricks of the trade with anyone interested in becoming a TNR trapper.