Thursday, July 28, 2011

Top 10 Reasons to Foster an Animal in Need: #7

Dear readers, today I treat you to Reason #7, brought to you by cat rescuer and mom extraordinaire, expert blogger, and Hyde Park Cats Founding member, Terren.  Enjoy.

Reason #7: I have two little girls, currently five and a half  and three and a half. We are a foster family for Hyde Park Cats.  My girls have fostered Talullah, Rainbow, Poe, Lemon, Afikomen, Honey, Apples, Oatmeal, Eemo and Gomo, and some other kittens I think I am blocking out. We’ve named those kittens too!

Fostering an animal teaches children many lessons. Some are obvious – the responsibility of feeding one’s cat – and others less so. Our current foster cat is teaching us about patience. It has taken months to get her to this stage, but now she will let my older daughter pick her up and snuggle her. The satisfaction of the long-anticipated goal! The sense of accomplishment! The pride of a job well done!

Sometimes people suggest it must be so difficult for my girls to say good-bye to their foster animals, but in truth, it is not. The key is preparation from me: the girls understand the cats are going to their “ever homes,” and they are proud of themselves for helping rescue cats. We have pictures of all our fostered cats, and we reminisce about them. We know where they went, and sometimes we even get updates. We have a funny picture of grown-up Rainbow sprawled all over a Legoland city, where once she fit into our dollhouse’s living room.

In fact, my girls know they’re part of a community effort. Mama rescues cats. Mama has cat-rescue friends. And we rescue cats!  We marched in the Fourth of the July parade with our friends and the Hyde Park Cats banner, and we felt pride.

Once I took my girls to the Animal Welfare League’s intake facility. When we came to the front door, a metal grate through which one must be buzzed, my little one asked, “Is this jail?”

Children are perceptive. They can see a building with no windows and with bars is jail, even if it’s for animals. They see the desperation, fury, and despair of an animal in a cage. They see the fear and the desire in a stray dog’s eyes. They see it and they want desperately to help. So I let my children help.

On that same trip my older one found one little kitten by itself in a cage, quiet and depressed. She insisted we take it home. At 5:30 pm that kitten was in a corner of a cage in a back room of a kill facility. At 8:30 pm that kitten was asleep in my daughter’s arms. And my daughter was asleep too, clutching the life she had saved. She went to bed that night after she had helped bathe and feed that kitten, and towel it dry, and set up its food and water and litterbox. She felt proud of herself for doing something to right the world, for performing a small act of tikkun olam (“repairing the world”).

And that’s the 7th reason to foster: to give your children the opportunity to do something real to make the world a better place. My girls make me proud every day with their efforts. It’s the world they will live in, and they’re shaping it for the better of all of us animals.

Pictured Above: Devoted and adorable young cat rescuers Lilah and Solja with some very lucky and well-loved kitties. If you can handle the cuteness, click here.


  1. I love this beautiful entry. Eevie was totally made me cry! The girls and the kittens are wonderful!

  2. Terren, mazel tov! Your girls are a delight, and (not that my childless opinion counts that much) it seems to me that this has much to do with the way you are raising them to be so observant of, and caring to, the world around them...starting with all the little kittehz. That middle photo of Lilah sleeping w/ kitten at her back is still one of my all-time faves from HPC. I can look at it and feel all is right with the world, even if just for a moment.