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Monday, July 21, 2014

We spend a day in the life of a volunteer who offers cats temporary foster homes.

A post from Cats Protection volunteer guest blogger and fosterer, Joan Boulton

I joined Cats Protection in February 2013 to help out at tabletop sales and with neutering calls, but upon listening to other fosterers from the Preston Branch talking of their experiences, I felt it was something I would really like to do. Asking for more details, I realised I had the space in my garden for a pen and being retired I had the time to give. I took in my first foster cat in June 2013.

I love spending time with cats and find it so totally rewarding to see a cat that may have previously gone through a stressful time come into my care, grow in confidence and eventually go off to their new home. Getting follow-up photographs and up-to-date news of the cats from their adopters is a brilliant bonus.

Most cat owners will recognise how my day begins. It is the job of the nominated cat to make me aware that there are other hungry cats waiting for their breakfast. My elder cat Lady has now nominated my other cat Princess Bear to make sure I wake up. She seems to have acquired black belt status in this skill.

Tabby cat sitting on windowsill

First the wail and sound effects of a herd of elephants charging up and downstairs; then the flying leap onto the bed and walking up and down my torso. At this stage I glance, with one eye, at the clock. 5.55am. Encouraged with the success of one open eye, her next strategy is to get as close to my face as possible and purr loudly. Despite the early hour, the sure knowledge that next will be full-on fishy breath (hers - not mine!) and a raspy face wash, I give in and tell her "OK then, let's get din dins".

Both cats fed and heading off for a nice doze, I make a cup of tea and prepare for the rest of my pre-breakfast routine: my foster cats. Mummy cat and her five kittens in one pen; and mummy cat and her one kitten in the other. For them I need clean litter trays, clean dishes, sachets of kitten food, kitten biscuits, water, damp cleaning cloths and a sack for used litter.

I open the back door and immediately both Queens are at their pen doors. Mummy cat, Pollyanna, still has her neutering "lampshade" on and is anxious for a neck scratch almost as much as for her food. Her little ginger boy Macvitty is ready for a play and his favourite game is chasing the brush and dustpan, making cleaning the pen quite a challenge. With this pen swept, wiped, emptied and renewed, it is time for mummy Mila's pen. With five very lively six-week-old kittens this pen looks as if it has been ransacked: there is cat litter everywhere! Everything has to be taken out of the pen, shaken, emptied, brushed and replaced with clean things.

Litter of ginger, tabby, white and black kittens

All clean and fed, I can then go back into the house and empty my own cats’ litter trays and wash all the cat dishes. Hands scrubbed, I finally get around to making my, and my long suffering husband's, breakfast.

Boring bits follow for an hour or so (shower, bed making and housework) then it is time for a check-up in the cat pens. It is meant to be a quick check up and food replenish but with lively kittens to play with and mummy cats wanting attention too, time just slips by and I have to remind myself that I do have other things to do.

The day is regularly spaced with these "quick" check-ups and somehow the ironing never quite gets done. But, I am content to see my wards happy and safe; and I am sure my blood pressure is much lower for spending time with them.

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