Caitlin M. wasn’t a cat person, but when she met her husband, a described “big cat guy,” she quickly fell in love with felines.
Living in England at the time, Caitlin and her husband knew they wanted a cat, but planned on moving back to the U.S. in the coming months. Instead of making a long-term commitment to adopt, they decided fostering would be their best bet. They began fostering through a local shelter and started with a pair of three-year-old cats.
“We didn’t have any cats of our own at the time, so letting them go was really hard,” Caitlin tells us.
But after the couple moved to Florida and adopted their own cats, they decided to try fostering again. This would lead to a decade-long commitment to helping cats and kittens in need for the couple.
“Having our own made it a lot easier to say goodbye, and since then we’ve fostered well over 100 cats, mainly kittens,” says Caitlin. “We’ve been fostering kittens for about 10 years.”
There was a time, however, that Caitlin thought her fostering days were behind her. After moving from Florida to Georgia and then to New York City, Caitlin wasn’t sure how they would manage to care for kittens in an apartment.
“We connected with the ASPCA at a cat convention,” explains Caitlin. “We thought, ‘We live in New York, we don’t have a car, our fostering days are over. How would we get them to our apartment?’ But one of the staff said, ‘No, don’t worry, we can handle all of that for you!’ And that was when we started with the ASPCA.”
Caitlin adds, “Working with the ASPCA, it’s actually been the best relationship we’ve had with any of the rescues we’ve worked with. It’s nice to feel like you’re supported in a lot of different ways with resources, with transportation to and from the shelter when they need vaccines or if they are sick. You can contact someone and they’re very responsive and conscientious and that has really helped a lot.”
Caring for Ringworm Kittens
In the 10 years Caitlin has been fostering kittens, she’s begun gravitating toward helping ringworm kittens. These kittens need a little extra help while in our care to successfully treat their ringworm, and fosters play a lifesaving role in their lives. In fact, since fostering with us, Caitlin has become one of our “go-to” ringworm fosters and we couldn’t be more grateful to know she’s by our side.
Caitlin first heard about our need for ringworm fosters during the pandemic and was intrigued. Since she is already the pet parent to a special needs cat, she knows it can be harder for special needs animals to find placement and feels that caring for them is especially rewarding. Caitlin looked at ringworm fostering the same way and was excited to try something new.
“We felt like we were in a position where we could do it, so we felt like we’d try,” Caitlin says. “We said yes and got our first pair of ringworm kittens and since then have done it pretty regularly.”
Caitlin has found that fostering kittens with ringworm is not all that different from fostering healthy kittens aside from a few key components like wearing gloves when interacting with them, changing your clothes after interacting with them, giving them medicated baths and cleaning everything regularly to prevent the spread of infection.
“I think people think fostering ringworm kittens is so much more than it is,” Caitlin explains. “It’s really not that hard. And with typical, healthy kittens, they’re with you for such a short period of time, but with ringworm kittens you have them until the ringworm clears so you get to bond with them more and understand their little personalities more which is a bonus.”
That’s not to say that Caitlin didn’t have some fears about fostering ringworm kittens before she began. She worried that she would contract it, or one of her resident cats would. But she took steps to prevent the spread, including good hygiene and keeping the cats apart. She also felt that the benefits she could provide the kittens with immensely outweighed her fears.
Sharing Her Tips and Tricks
When it comes to fostering, Caitlin urges every foster to prioritize their mental health in order to care for the animals.
“Your mental health is so important, and it does need to be a priority because if it isn’t, ultimately you can’t help. Do what you can, don’t take on more than you think you can handle because it’s better to do it and not get burnt out or turned off than to feel so overwhelmed by it and never do it again. Just do what you can do and that’s enough.”
She also encourages others to be open minded. “Don’t be so afraid of it. In the three years we’ve been fostering ringworm kittens, I haven’t gotten it, my husband’s never gotten it and the cats haven’t either. Recognize that these kittens have ringworm but that’s it. Generally, there’s nothing else going on with them and they are otherwise ‘typical’ kittens who need the same love, socialization and interaction that any other cat does.”
Within the three years she’s been fostering ringworm kittens, Caitlin has also come up with some tips and tricks to making bath time a little easier.
“It’s always helpful to have a protocol in place when bathing the kittens, and it’s helpful to have a partner help with them,” she says. “I usually have my husband or a friend help, and that makes a big difference. But just make sure you have the water, shampoo and gloves ready. And when they’re sitting with the shampoo on, my husband will hold them while I disinfect everything so they’re not going into a “ringworm-y” environment after their bath.”
“If You’re Thinking of It, Try It.”
This National Animal Foster Appreciation Week, we want to say thank you to our amazing, devoted and dependable fosters like Caitlin. We could not help all the animals that we do without their support and commitment to animals in need.
After 10 years of fostering and three years of fostering kittens with ringworm, Caitlin knows the importance of caring for these animals and the immense impact it has on their lives. She encourages everyone to try fostering, even if it’s just for a few weeks.
“Anyone who is thinking of fostering, whether it’s ringworm kittens, a ‘typical’ kitten, an adult cat, any cat, if you’re thinking of it, try it,” urges Caitlin. “The worst thing that can happen is that it doesn’t work out and you decide it’s not for you, but at least try.”
She adds, “It may sound like hyperbole, but you do literally save lives by fostering because the more cats they get out of the shelter the more cats they can rescue. By opening your home even for a month to a cat, it can literally save lives. It’s definitely worth trying.”
Not sure you’re into ringworm kittens or even kittens at all? No worries, there are lots of different types of foster caregivers, and you can choose whichever you think will best suit your lifestyle! There’s no better time to sign up than today.
You can sign up to foster for the ASPCA in New York City, Los Angeles, Columbus, Ohio, and Asheville, North Carolina, or foster through your local shelter!
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