Meet Dash Allen
How old are you Dash?
Where did your name come from?
How did you come into your mom’s life?
I heard you have 13 siblings… is that true?
You and your furfamily have been in a lot of contests, was there any training involved ?
Is there any contest that your or your furfamily is the most proud of?
Do you think you’re going to follow in Skylar’s pawsteps and be a therapy cat?
I see your mommy does fostering what do you think about all the strange kittens/cats in the house?
What Does it Mean to Foster an Animal?
Fostering means that you will be volunteering to take an animal (or animals) into your home and take care of them until there is room for them in the shelter or rescue you are fostering for, or until the animals are old enough to be spayed or neutered and put up for adoption.
What Kind of Animals Can I Foster?
Many animal shelters and rescue groups have a foster program and they are structured differently according to the individual organization. If you are interested in animal fostering, you can choose the group that is a perfect fit for you. You can foster dogs, puppies, cats, kittens, rabbits, guinea pigs and even horses.
How Long Do I Have to Keep the Fosters?
The length of time you will have your foster depends on the animal and the situation. Let your foster contact know how much time you feel comfortable committing to fostering, whether it is 2 weeks, 6 weeks or open ended. They will work to match you with the right animal within your time range.
Do I Have to Pay for Supplies Myself?
When you foster, you are not expected to pay for basic supplies like food, litter, medicine or vet care out of your own pocket. Supplies are usually provided by the animal shelter or rescue. Most likely you will just need to go pick up the supplies. Discuss these specifics before you foster with a certain group or rescue.
What do I Have to Provide?
You should provide care and a safe space for the animal. You should provide playtime, socialization, a soft bed, love and fresh water.
Is it ok if I Have Other Pets?
Let your foster contact know what other pets you have. In many cases having other pets is a plus. Orphaned kittens with no siblings are missing out on important lessons learned during playtime, like bite inhibition. Socialization when they are babies helps them become a better pet and more likely to be adopted. Kittens familiar with dogs and vice versa will be easier to adopt into a multi-pet home.
What if I Have a Problem or Emergency?
Your foster program contact should be available via cellphone to help you whenever you need it. Discuss this before you foster with a certain group or rescue.
What if it’s Not Working Out?
Your foster program leader will do their best to match you with the right foster depending on your home situation. Whether you have children, other pets, etc. By fostering an animal you are not locked into a situation if it’s stressful for you and the animals. Fostering should be a great experience for everyone! Discuss this before you foster with a certain group or rescue. They should be willing to take the animal back immediately if needed.
What are the Benefits of Fostering?
You are saving a life.
You are volunteering (which is good for the soul) without having to leave your home and other pets.
Fostering allows you to “test the waters” if you plan on adopting a pet yourself.
Fostering helps socialize your own pets.
Fostering is a way for your children to “experience the miracle of life” without adding to the pet overpopulation problem.
By fostering you are supporting your community and making new friends and positive changes within your community.
Fostering helps you learn about animals, animal behavior, animal care and different animal personalities.
What Fostering Involves
As a foster parent, you will be responsible for feeding, cleaning, socializing, and cuddling your kittens. In some cases, you may need to bottle feed, give medications or take the kittens to the veterinarian. Some groups provide you with cat food and litter, while others require foster parents to provide these necessities.
In terms of space, you don’t need much. A laundry room, bathroom, or extra bedroom is helpful, but a cage set up in the corner of your bedroom or den can work just fine. Depending on how old the kittens are, you’ll be caring for them for one to eight weeks.
Finally, unless you adopt them, you must be prepared to let your foster kittens go. It can be sad to say goodbye, but remember, you have given them a great start on life. Thanks to you, they will have a loving, permanent home with some very lucky adopters.
A mom cat with kittens. This is actually one of the easiest fostering situations since mom does most of the work. You’ll need a room or large cage along with a nesting area-part of the cage, a closet, large dog carrier, or a box on its side with a blanket draped over the front. Mom will need a litterbox.
The mother cat will feed, clean, and socialize the kittens. You will feed mom, clean her litterbox and bedding, handle the kittens, and monitor everyone’s health.
Bottle feeders (or bottle babies). These are kittens under four weeks old who need to be bottle fed every 2-6 hours depending on how old they are. Since these kittens don’t have a mom, you will also have to help them go to the bathroom, keep them clean, wean them, and train them to use a litterbox.
You’ll need a warm, safe area in which to confine bottle babies, preferably a cage or large carrier. Some foster parents even convert an extra bathtub into a kitten area. Because warmth is so important, kittens should have access to a towel-covered heating pad, set on low. They must have enough space to be able to crawl off the heating pad if it gets too warm. If you are fostering a single kitten, provide a stuffed animal or something fuzzy for the kitten to cuddle.
Self-feeding kittens. Kittens 4-8 weeks old can already eat on their own and use the litterbox, but need TLC until they are old enough to be adopted. You’ll feed them, clean them, play with them, monitor their health, and clean their litterbox. It is best to keep them in a confined area such as a small, kitten-proofed room, or a large cage.
Feral kittens. These are kittens, usually 4-8 weeks old, who have grown up with little or no human contact. In addition to the care described above, they also need more intensive socialization to help them become comfortable around people.
To kitten-proof a room, remove anything that might fall on a kitten – even a book can cause serious injury. Remember that kittens can climb into tiny holes and crevices and get stuck. Bathrooms seem to be especially easy to kitten-proof, and they are easy to clean.
Regular litterboxes are too big for young kittens. Start out with small Tupperware-type containers or shoebox lids. As the kittens grow, so can the litterbox.
Some foster parents get permission to bring very young bottle babies to work with them. Kittens sleep much of the time and can stay in a small carrier under your desk.
Health and Safety Basics
Monitoring your charges’ health is extremely important – sick kittens must be treated quickly. Keep tabs on the following:
Kittens should be alert and warm to the touch. Chilling is a risk mainly during the first four weeks of life. If the kittens are cold and listless, they must be warmed up immediately. Do not attempt to feed chilled kittens. Place the kittens in a box or pet carrier with a heating pad (placed in a pillowcase then wrapped in a towel) set on low inside the box. Be sure the heating pad covers only half of the bottom of the box–the kittens must be able to move off the heating pad if it becomes too warm.
If you notice fleas, you should flea comb the kitten as soon as possible. Do not use insecticides or any other flea products. Kittens can also be bathed with warm water and a very gentle soap. Do not wet the head. Dry the kitten immediately with a towel, then with a blow dryer set on low/warm (not hot, not cold).
Diarrhea and upper respiratory infection (watery eyes, stuffy nose, sneezing – similar to a human cold) are serious and should be immediately treated by a veterinarian.
Keeping the kittens clean helps to maintain their health. Wash bedding and food and water dishes daily. After they eat or use the litterbox, clean dirty kittens with warm, damp towels and dry them well. Wash your hands before and after feeding and handling kittens.
Don’t wear shoes around the kittens, and be especially careful when walking around. They move quickly and it’s all too easy to step on them.
Never give cow’s milk to kittens. Since they cannot digest it properly, it can make them sick.
Don’t let bottle babies nurse on their siblings – this can cause serious injury.
Keep foster animals separate from your own pets.
Newborn (or neonatal): Eyes are closed, ears are flat to the head, fur is thin and skin looks pink.
Ten days old: Eyes begin to open.
Three weeks old: Ears stand up, teeth are visible, and kittens begin to walk – wobbly at first!
Four weeks old: Kittens begin eating regular cat food and using the litterbox. They also begin to pounce and leap.
Eight weeks old: Healthy kittens will weigh approximately two pounds, and are ready for spay/neuter and adoption.
Factors to Consider Before Taking on Kitten Fostering
The decision to foster kittens is a serious one which will affect your entire household, and should not be undertaken unless you can answer the following questions to your satisfaction. You will likely be asked similar questions if you volunteer for a cat rescue group, so it will be a good rehearsal.
Can I afford the costs involved in fostering kittens?
Unless you work with a cat rescue organization which supplies the necessities, you’ll likely have the cost of all the accoutrements which go along with kittens: bottles & formula, kitten food, litter boxes, a bed and/or a containing pen, scratching post, and toys. You may also have to pay for their “kitten shots” and spay/neutering.
Am I prepared physically and emotionally?
First, you should have enough room in your home for an active litter of kittens to be comfortable, yet safe. You need to have the physical stamina to tend to their physical needs, which may include bottle-feeding newborns around the clock.
Finally, although kittens can provide fun and joy, they also bring with them hard work and sometimes sorrow. Kittens do die sometimes, through no fault of your own. Also, the time will come when the kittens will be ready for new homes, and you’ll have to say goodbye.
Are there other pets in your home?
Only you know how well your pets accept new animals to your household. For that reason, it is always a good practice to keep the litter of kittens, along with the mother cat (if she came with the package) in a safe room until the time comes for integration. Your own common sense should guide you, particularly with big dogs who are unaccustomed to kittens, and may consider them “toys” or prey. If you have any doubts at all about your current pets, it may be better to consider volunteering at a shelter or rescue group’s “adoption day” events.
Is my family on-board with my Fostering Kittens?
Taking care of a litter of cats will consume much of your at-home time. It could cause a conflict with your partner unless he or she is as enthusiastic about the prospect as you are. Most children are pretty happy at the idea of having kittens in the house, and older children can help with their care and socialization. However, unless your child is exceptionally mature, young kittens should not be exposed to children under the age of three.
If you have passed these self-directed questions, you can start preparing yourself for a rewarding new venture in making a difference in the lives of cats.
This is the Amazon wishlist to help the foster cats- http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/35H2ME458B5B1/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_ws_5yOYqb1C181JS
Dash Allen’s Page-https://www.facebook.com/mydash10
Miss Sabrina’s Page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina/
Dash’s Disco (his facebook party page) –https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dashs-Disco/
Author’s Note: I would like to thank Dash for taking the time to do the interview and letting me borrow pictures for the article and providing me with lots of information about the family, whew, what a huge family. =^..^=