Give ‘Em a Piece of Your Heart
Being a foster to a homeless or neglected animal can fill your heart and theirs with love and trust.
The kitten weighed less than 6 pounds, the scar from her front leg amputation still fresh and pink. The animal rescue group thinks she was attacked by a dog. She’d been found in the woods with a compound fracture, a grisly wound. She snuggled up to me that October night, clearly glad to have the warmth of contact.
Her name was Cider, and she was my first foster kitty. But not my last.
Since 2020, I’ve been fostering cats for the Voices of Change Animal League (VOCAL) and have taken in 11 cats over the past two and a half years. They come to me sometimes fearful, sometimes brave and sometimes emotionally wounded or shut down. They leave my home more confident, interactive with humans, affectionate and ready for their fur-ever homes.
In addition to Cider, I’ve fostered Stormy, Geena, Jasmine, Belle, Bonnie, Rocky, Citrine, Pinot, Port and Joyce. Geena sometimes got too hot on the porch and would come in the house and stretch out her body on the cool tile but stick her head outside the door to keep an eye on things; it was a scream. Rocky was clearly accustomed to being the king of all he surveyed. He strolled out of the carrier and confidently strode around the house ready to be served immediately. Tiny little Joyce came from a hoarding situation and was the most fearful of all. It took her about a month to come out of the cat room.
People ask, “Oh, how can you do it? I’d get so attached.”
Well, I do get attached, and I also think of my work as preparing them for better lives than they may have had otherwise. Some cats come from feral colonies; some from owners who’ve had to go into nursing homes or who died. My home is, I hope, a nice way station where they can get emotionally balanced again, feel safe and enjoy time catting around a house instead of being in a cage. It is tough to put them in the carrier to hand them over; sometimes they cry out or claw, and I wish there was some way to tell them, “You’re going to a wonderful new home where your human will love you forever!”
Cider was one of the many success stories that VOCAL helped with. She was featured in the 2021 VOCAL annual report, with a photo of her on my porch, scar completely healed over and covered with fur, eyes clear and bright and full of love—with a little piece of my heart always with her. OS
IF YOU’D LIKE TO FOSTER
Many local animal organizations have foster programs. There are also rescue groups in the area for horses, pigs and ferrets, as well as specific breeds of dogs and cats. If you’re not ready to commit to owning a pet, consider volunteering your time and love to an animal that could really use your help. Some groups can cover food, supplies and medical expenses associated with the animal’s care.
Florida Parrot Rescue
Humane Society of Marion County
Marion County Animal Control
Sanctuary to the Maxx
Sheltering Hands Cat Rescue
SPCA of Marion County
Sweet Water Rescue & Rehab
Ziggy’s Haven Bird Sanctuary