This sweet little tabby had to wear PJs so she wouldn’t lick or chew the stitches from her leg amputation
I recently had the privilege of providing foster care for a gorgeous kitty whom had just been through a front leg amputation and spay surgery. It was quite the learning experience but it was also incredibly rewarding! My husband and I fell in love with the little tripod cat. It was so hard not to after watching how strong and cheerful she was throughout the recovery process. I never really thought it was possible to feel admiration for the character and strength of a kitten, but I have now certainly been shown otherwise.
Many people have posed the question, “How can you foster cats and dogs and then let them go to a new home? Don’t you want to keep them all?” The answer is, “yes” especially with the sick or injured ones who have to be nursed back to health. These are usually the toughest ones to let go, but in the end it is so worth the tears when you know that little one you saved now has a chance at a great life as a direct result of the care you gave him or her. So I wanted to tell everyone why I continue to do this even though it can be hard to let go sometimes.
1. The more places the animals have to go, the more animals will be rescued
The first reason to foster sick or injured animals (even elderly ones) is based on simple mathematics; the more foster homes there are, the more animals can be saved. Many foster homes are simply not set up to take on sick or injured animals or they are just not up for the challenge. Some have children who are too young to understand that that puppy or kitty needs to be left alone or needs quiet. Many homes have other animals, which may also stress the sick foster, and some people simply do not have the extra time to devote to the injured pet. Since my home is kid-free and I have spare, quiet rooms, it is an ideal fit for these more needy pets. This means that an animal who may otherwise be euthanized due to lack of a place to go, can now be saved. Yay!
2. Saving injured animals is rewarding
Quill came into rescue after getting on the wrong side of a porcupine
The next reason is a bit of a selfish one, but it still benefits rescue animals. It just plain feels good to know you have saved the life of a pet who would have otherwise perished. This past summer the rescue I volunteer for took in a stray dog who was found starving and sick with a face full of porcupine quills. He would surely have died had it not been for one of our wonderful foster homes.
He needed daily medication and a lot of rehabilitation to be ready for adoption. I know the foster dad had a really hard time parting with Quill but I guarantee that if he had to do it all over again, he would gladly volunteer his home. My husband and I had a similar experience with our little buddy, Blackie. He came to us very skinny, very withdrawn, and he had several porcupine quills embedded in his nose and feet. As much as it pained us to pin him down every night and attempt to pull out the quills that had migrated out of his face (he used to scream), we knew it was worth it. Blackie went to a fantastic home as a well-adjusted, healthy dog. While we miss the little guy, we know he is happy and well taken care of.
3. Once you have fostered a sick animal, you gain confidence to do it again
Blackie, healthy and happy after his rehabilitation
The first one is always the hardest. Almost every foster home I know of fails to let go of the first animal they foster. I have two cats as evidence of this. However, if you can convince yourself from the time you take in an animal, that it will not be staying with you and you follow through with it, the next time there is an animal with similar needs, you will be ready. After the first medical case, you will be much more comfortable dealing with a sick animal.
The uneasiness that comes with dealing with the unknown will be gone and your chosen rescue will have a home for sick animals that they can rely on in case of an emergency. The same can be said here for those who have done bottle feeding or caring for older or perhaps disabled pets.
4. You will be prepared if your pet gets ill
This point is simple, once you have handled a sick or injured cat or dog, it will be much easier on you if one of your own pets becomes ill. You will have an easier time staying calm because you know what to expect. This will benefit your animal because you can focus on caring for him or her, rather than your own personal feelings.
5. You get to choose the perfect home
As a foster home, most animal rescues allow you to have the final say on who adopts the cats and dogs in your care. This is so rewarding, especially when you have been nursing a sick animal back to health. I know these are the cases we al tend to care about just that much more but, since you get to choose the adopters, you will see the newly rehabbed animal go to a great home of your choosing. While letting go is sad, seeing the animal go to a great home is a very nice feeling.
In the end, not everyone is a good candidate as a foster home for these types of pets but if you’ve got the space, time, and love to do it, please do. Trust me, you’ll thank me later!