Anne has been a good friend and foster carer to the branch for very many years. Her expertise and knowledge has proven invaluable over and over again and we could not manage without her. Anne shares with us what it has been like to foster for over 30 years!
- How long have you been fostering and what species?
I have been a fosterer with Manchester and Salford Rspca branch for approx 15yrs. I previously fostered for Cats Protection and The SAA (a local animal sanctuary). In total over 30 yrs!!!
I foster pregnant cats, nursing mum cats and their kittens and kittens without mums aged anywhere between new-borns to approximately 14 week olds.
2) What have you learnt?
In practical terms i have learnt how to care for sick cats and kittens. How to administer medication in many forms. How to pick up quickly the signs of ill health and how to best deal with each issue.
I have learnt how to hand rear kittens from birth onwards. How to safely bottle feed them and deal with common health issues they may present with. How to provide the optimum facilties to meet their every need. How to best wean kittens onto solid food, litter train them and the importance of socialising them with humans and fellow cats.
I have learnt how to best manage scared, feral and nervous cats and kittens.
I have also learnt about problem behaviour cats may display and ways to overcome these.
I have learnt so much in all the years of fostering that i cant possibly list everything, and I continue to learn something new with different foster situations all the time.
In general terms i have learnt that caring for the welfare of these cats is a team effort and i am just one person amongst many involved in their care from being first rescued to being ready for rehoming.
3) Funniest experience fostering?
It’s almost impossible to single out one funny experience. Kittens don’t fail to amuse on a daily basis as the grow and learn. They are so mischevious, naughty, playful, cheeky and amusing to watch.
Something that always makes me laugh, is when i have kittens who have been nursed by their mums in a large kittening box, reaching around 3 to 4 weeks of age, they realise that there is a world outside of the box, and start to scramble the sides with such determination to get a view of what’s on the other side. When they finally reach the top and peep over, they look so amazed. The theme tune to ‘The Great Escape’ is always in my head at these times. That always makes me laugh.
4) What has been you greatest heartbreak?
Loosing a kitten is always heart-breaking. It is especially hard with hand rears as you spend so much time and effort day and night trying to keep them alive and they are so vulnerable. It is devastating to lose them and i have shed many tears over the years and been left heartbroken on so many occasions. It never gets any easier.
I also many times shed a tear when they go off to their forever homes, but these are happy tears!!
5) What is the best thing about fostering?
There are many great things about fostering. I love witnessing the magical moment a mother cat gives birth, the wonder of the way she nurtures and rears the kittens. To witness the changes and development as the kittens grow week by week and develop their individual characters. The amusement they give in their playful behavior with each other and you. The joy of caring for a sick or injured kitten and see them bounce back and recover and go on to their forever homes. To see the trust and love they can still give even after going through some horrendous treatment or situation.
To be able to offer them the love, care and safe environment to recover or start their lives in. To achieve the end goal of finding their forever families and homes. Also to meet and work with other like minded individuals who share your love for animals and work towards the same goals and outcomes to give them the best chance of a happy life.
6) How many foster fails have you had?
I currently own 4 cats all of whom where originally fosters. I will tell you about one of them. His name is Benny, he came as one of 4 kittens with his mum as new-borns. As he approached 6 weeks of age, it became apparent that he had co ordination problems, and was diagnosed with Cerebellar Hyperplasia. This is when kittens are born with the part of the brain that deals with movement not developing properly. He walks like a horse doing dressage, he has a shaky head at times and he looses his balance quite often. He also struggles to co ordinate jumping and landing where he is aiming for. He does have a fairly mild form of the condition and as far as he is concerned he is a ‘normal’ cat. A lovely man came to see him and offered him a home, at which point I realised how much i loved him and couldn’t bear to let him go!! That was almost 10 yrs ago and we love him dearly, as does anyone that meets him!!