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Join Me. Save a Life.

There’s no denying how difficult it is to realize we live in a world where every cat and dog doesn’t have a loving home. It’s even worse to think that each day animals, regardless of age or pedigree, are euthanized due to overcrowded conditions in our local shelters. Small “mom and pop” rescue groups do the best they can. They rescue some of the animals from those shelters or off the streets, but without a facility they can only provide a place for animals in their own homes until they can be adopted.

©2009 Robin A.F. Olson. Monte & Millie McMuffin and Dylan snuggle on my lap.

I’ve been fostering cats and kittens for over ten years. I’ve lost count as to how many cats have passed through my doors. I know it’s somewhere in the hundreds, at least. Some cats were feral and I used my training to socialize them into loving companions-while others were tossed into a steel cage in a Kill shelter, with only days to live. Wherever they came from, once they arrived in my home, they were safe, at last.

I suffer from depression, but I manage all right without medication. I mention this because of something I’ve come to realize. Knowing that I’m making a difference-seeing a thin, neglected cat begin to trust for the first time, learn how to play and get some padding on their fragile bones, makes my heart sing. Caring for them helps remind me that to end my own suffering, the solution is to care for others.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. A kiss for Sugar Pie while Cinnamon naps nearby.

In the dead of winter, having a lap full of sleeping kittens not only warms my body, but my soul. There is such joy in being around kittens; their enthusiasm for life is contagious. Their spirit of exploration, of discovering their world and that YOU are part of that journey is deeply gratifying.

I’m often asked; “But aren’t you upset when your foster kittens get adopted? I’d keep them all if I fostered. I just can’t do that.” My answer is always the same; “I would far rather shed tears over them being gone because they went to a good home, instead of weeping because they didn’t leave the shelter alive.” Yes, it IS painful, some of the time to say goodbye, but over the years, I’ve learned to take joy in the process and have faith that the cycle will repeat again and again. The sadness of loss I once felt is replaced with the joy of the new arrivals. Their story is about to begin with me by their side. I get to be a part of shaping who they are and when they’re ready, they go to a great family who will guide them with love through the rest of their lives.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Amberly's family. What would have become of these kittens, born under a tree, if Maria hadn't fought hard to rescue them? Now they're in my home waiting for their forever families.

So, I ask you to join me. Offer to foster a cat in YOUR home. The commitment is usually a short period of time. Many rescue groups will pay for food and litter and most will cover any Vet expenses. They won’t just leave you to figure out what to do and as you get more proficient, you can inspire others to join you. It may seem like trying to empty the ocean with a thimble with companion animal overpopulation into the millions, but EVERY cat (or dog! or horse, etc.) you provide a foster home, means the world to that animal. If you and your friends and their friends all foster just ONE cat or dog, think of what kind of positive change we could have on those overburdened animal shelters?

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©2009 Robin A.F. Olson. Monte, fighting a cold, rests on my lap. He recovered and was adopted by a nice family.

There are many ways to find a good rescue group to work with. You can do a search on under “search shelters by state.” You can ask your Vet, your friends, etc. Meet with someone from the group before you get started. Do some research about them and make sure you feel comfortable with their policies. If you don’t think it's a good fit, don’t give up. I worked with three rescue groups over the years and then I ended up starting my own non-profit cat rescue last year because I felt I could do more with my own team.

Give a cat or kitten a chance at life by offering to foster them in your home. Don’t be afraid. You’ll have far more smiles, than tears, along the way, I promise.


We have been fostering for over 6 years. Mom gets the same question - how can you give them up? Sometimes it is hard, sometimes they stay (Mo & Ivy, Tim & Tom) and honestly, sometimes it is easy (wild kittens get tiring - mol). However, we tell people that by finding them homes or sending them back to the shelter to get adopted, we then have an open space for the next bunch. And so the door continues to revolve.....

And you are right - there is nothing better on a cold day than a lap full of kittens!!

Robyn, I love you! if only all the strays in the world came through your doors. I must admit to not fostering (have male cat who wees when stressed) but the 7 cats I have had in my life have all been rescues, and they bring so much joy. I am in awe of your dedication and thank you for your tireless efforts on behalf of felis catus.

Great write-up. I have fostered 3 times..the first two times I adopted the cats. I didnt know if I could do it again, because I was afraid I would contiue to adopt them. I hated to take them back to the shelter I volunteer at because I was afraid they would be sad and think I ditched them. But I just fostered again..three adults..for three weeks..I brought them to the shelter for the first time last Sat. for adoptions. The twins got adopted together! I was very surprised b/c they were so scared. The third ended up staying at the shelter b/c room was now available. I struggled with leaving her or taking her home again..but I felt it best to leave her. If I took her home, I probably would have kept her. I am still sad and miss her, but think I did the right thing. And now I know I am able to foster again without the tempation of keeping them!

I agree whole heartedly. I started fostering for Toronto Cat Rescue this year, so far eight kittens have been adopted from my home.

Over the last two years I've spayd or neutered five adult cats that were abandoned in my neighbourhood. they were adopted by my neighbours or myself.

I love the testimonials. And that events are here in Brazil too. Fighters to protect and to give a home to our furry brothers.

Robin, I just want to thank you for the article "Join Me: Save a Life" you have written exactly what I feel. I too suffer from depression at times and though I don't have any training have taken on the job of fostering cats/kittens and love it. It has made the hard times seem a little less hard and when you spend time with a cat that needs either your love or a quiet home it makes it easier to cope. I agree that it is hard to say goodbye and I never seem to manage to do it without some tears but as you said I know that there will be more to help and still more that need love and a safe place to be until they are ready for their forever homes. I had to take a break for a while as I had a very difficult 9 months or so with the loss of a complete litter and then a litter of kittens with ringworm. When it was suggested that I go at least a year without fostering it broke my heart and put me back in a depressed period. Thank goodness the year only ended up being 6 months but it was the worst 6 months I had since I started fostering. So again thank you for so eloquently writing exactly what fostering does for those of us that take on this very important role.

I also foster kittens/pregnant moms and some cats. I've been doing this for about 3 years now and have gotten so much joy when I see their new family embrace them and I see their eyes light up. I first fostered for a high kill shelter and now volunteer with a local rescue organization (I still pull some from that shelter). At this time I am going to take a foster break when all my kittens are adopted out. I'm getting burned out but do not plan to never foster again. It's too important. Thank God for people like you. I wish only the best for you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and may God bless you!! Dee

Bravo my dear - you never cease to amaze me and I'm so glad we got to spend some quality time together this go around at BLOGPAWS.
Thank you for all that you do and for this lovely post. I will post on I HAVE CAT's FB ASAP!

I could copy and paste this into my blog about fostering it would fit right in. (I wouldn't cause it would be stealing)

Ten years... Check
Hundreds of kittens... Check(259)
Depression being eased by helping a kitten... Check
The tears are worth it...check and check

I just saved five little lives when their mom was hit by a car. Two weeks old there was no one to bottle feed. I had a mother cat who would take them as her own kits were old enough to do with out her (I do not mix litters) I so did not want to put kittens in the bathroom again, but I could not say no.

Thank you for this beautiful article. Thank you for your great advice to all us would be foster moms (and dads). Last and not least, thank you for all the wonderful work you do helping homeless kittens, often in dire straights, find the strength to make it, to grow, to thrive and to find their "forever homes". You are a unique and very special woman, Mz Robin!

I just picked up my 2nd foster cat yesterday. I've loved cats for most of my life, yet I always found an excuse not to foster. One very special cat that came into my life and left it six short years later inspired me to try and help other abandoned cats in her honor. I started hanging around the Pets On Death Row page on Facebook and saw the wretched situation of so many cats night after night. So, when the last stray I'd been feeding for years disappeared for good this spring, I finally turned his "home" -- my former garden shed -- into a more proper setup for foster cats. Now it houses 2 fosters and one semi-feral (a shelter reject). I work full-time but even with these 3 guests it takes very little effort beyond the care of my own 3 cats.

When it comes time for my first foster to go to his forever home, I know it'll be another milestone in my new career as foster parent. I'm 55 years old and though I wish I'd started fostering sooner, I can tell you it's never too late to start. It's people like Robin and this blog that give me hope and fellowship in the shared interest of improving the welfare and saving the lives of homeless animals.

I too started fostering again after seeing the Pets on Death Row facebook page. After a month of seeing how many cats are euthanized, and donating money to help some of the sick, I felt compelled to help the kitties in my community. So I got back in touch with the local SPCA and got back on the foster list. I have saved 10 lives in 3 months. It doesn't take much time for the numbers to add up. I feel good knowing that I made a difference in the kittens and the momma cat's lives. Although some tears are shed when I have to take them back to the shelter to go up for adoption, I feel good that I was able to help shape the future for these precious creatures.

Hello Robin,

I just came across this article and i smile and shed tears cause I know how You feel 100%. I to am a foster Mom to Adult cats and kittens. I just had a litter of 3 I helped birth and raised them Leave me to be adopted by One family. Its amazing A family took all three. I was so happy. I sent a request to a local Rescue Group here in delaware called purrfect Haven Cat Rescue. I worked with them cause i wanted to Best for the little ones. I got to meet the family that adopted them and that was wonderful for my peace of mind and heart. I did cry my eyes out but it was what was needed to be done. I also had been fostering a older adult cat, which she is a Himalayan. Her name is Lady. She stayed with me for more then Three years until i could get the right owner. A owner of a large vet office near me. She adopted Lady and from what i was told Lady is doing really well. I am working and praying to find a home for a wild cat i have that has been in doors with me for more then three years, She was brought indoors when she was a kitten,. But her Wildness has not left her. she wont come to me but will come near me., I have tried to coax her with food treats, patience and all that good stuff but to no avail she will not catch on. So right now she is up for adoption. I am in the Delaware area. She is a sweet girl and quiet at times. She still needs to be fixed i.e i cant get close enough to her to get her in carrier. I commend You on what You are doing and am with You 100%. Thank You very much

Robin, I have been considering becoming a foster mom for a long time and I am going to do it soon. I need to get my household set up to do it and will keep you posted on my progress. It's the least I can do to honor the special angels who live with me full-time. :) xoxo

I have two cats that i found and took them in to my home. I am allowed to have one But I plan on keeping them both .I call them my sons . They are Bubba and Rusty. I love them so much. I also am on depression pills but spoil my sons. Your article was very touching to me.But can you tell me how you deal with all the cat hair? Robin there should be more special and caring people like you!!!!!!!! I wish I could do more but I have cats that hang around outside and I do feed them. Thank You for your inspiring true story. sandy D. destination wmtc.ct.

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