Fostering is cat's pyjamas

A first-time animal fosterer is paws-itively thrilled to be opening up her home to a family of felines, and is encouraging more people to take the step as the SPCA prepares for kitten season.

The season will last from November to March, and the SPCA could be seeking families for up to 100 kittens to help them recover from surgery, or become socialised and used to a home environment.

The SPCA supplied all food, medicine, bedding and toys to make the animal comfortable while staying with their foster family.

Kitten fosterer Jess Cripps says getting cats of her own gave her the impetus to start looking after Jack (left), Sally (centre) and Betty. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Kitten fosterer Jess Cripps says getting cats of her own gave her the impetus to start looking after Jack (left), Sally (centre) and Betty. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery

However, foster families needed to have their own transport to bring animals to and from the centre and be available for veterinary appointments.

Dunedin woman Jess Cripps is currently fostering a 10-month-old mother cat, Leah, and her three kittens, Betty, Jack and Sally which are about 2 weeks old. The kittens have only just opened their eyes.

''Pretty much since they were born, I've had them,'' Ms Cripps said.

She would be looking after them until they could be desexed.

Getting pets of her own was the catalyst to start fostering, but she made sure she kept the fostered animals away from her own pets, to avoid any problems.

''I always thought about it, even before I had animals,'' she said.

Although they had only just started moving around in the last couple of days, the kittens already had personalities. Sally, the biggest, was also the most adventurous.

Ms Cripps did not know much about Leah but believed she was a stray.

At first she was very uncomfortable around people, but Ms Cripps would sit with her for 15 minutes at a time until she became more relaxed, and started to greet Ms Cripps with a friendly miaow.

She had only just started to purr, Ms Cripps said.

Ms Cripps prepared bedding for the kittens and fed Leah, and weighed the kittens every day.

Apart from that, her role was quite hands-off, with Leah taking good care of the kittens.

Dunedin SPCA operations manager Hannah Hunsche said the SPCA had ''a limited amount of space and people in our centres to care for these animals''.

''We rely on our fantastic fosterers to offer temporary homes for them. It's an incredibly selfless thing to do, as it gives the animal a second chance at life.''

Fostering generally involved caring for an animal from two to six weeks.

elena.mcphee@odt.co.nz

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