By Glen David Gold
I don’t mean to brag, but as I’m writing this, there are five-week-old kittens on me. Specifically one kitten, Peanut, who is the runt of the litter, and who needs a little extra time and space to eat, so she does it in my lap. Her three siblings — Cashew, Almond, and Wally (short for Walnut) — are running around my home office, which my girlfriend and I converted into a temporary kitten den. We feed them three cans of wet food a day, we scoop their boxes, and because they’re still figuring out what this whole “indoor life” thing is about, we are teaching them about things like string and feathers and belly rubs.
I’ve always been impressed — and a little shy of — people who actually volunteer for things. I like the idea of it, but it comes with stage fright, and I often fall short of managing to do it myself. I think I heard the phrase “fostering kittens” as one of those great but overwhelming commitments like trekking to Nepal. If instead someone had said, “Hey, you can play with kittens for a few days and then help them find forever homes?” I might have lit up a little faster. But also I thought I might get too attached for that to be easy.
Like pretty much everywhere else, Los Angeles is having an especially intense kitten season. I’d been seeing social media accounts of shelters packed to bursting. I was particularly moved by the story I saw of a family who’d been feeding outdoor cats and who rapidly ended up with nineteen pregnant kitties! Luxe Paws, the local organization who was dealing with this, put out an SOS for temporary homes over the Fourth of July week so that all those kittens would be indoors during that whole fireworks nightmare. All they needed was a week of being looked after before they were old enough to be adopted.
I couldn’t stand the idea of kittens getting so freaked out. So my girlfriend and I filled out the application with Luxe Paws and about four hours later, I was picking up some food, some worm medication, and a playpen filled with kittens, one of the litters from the feral colony. The kittens were dubious, never having dealt with people before, but they were hungry and playful and curious enough to start licking food off our fingertips after day three in our care.
It’s really not hard to do this. A lot of places will let you foster for a week or less. If you don’t want the rambunctious energy of a litter of kittens there are plenty of older single cats who need a place to hang out until they find their furever home. You do need a room you can dedicate to it, and a familiarity with cats and kittens is pretty important. If you’re more skilled at bottle feeding or otherwise handling younger kittens, good for you — your skills are going to be very satisfying to use. Your area, wherever you live, has some kind of municipal or private organization that needs help right now. And it’s been really interesting loving on these little nuts and knowing that we’re doing it not just for them but for their future guardians. We’re noting their little personalities coming out. Cashew is the best hunter, Almond is very protective of the rest, Wally is the bravest, and Peanut is the most fragile. She of course has our hearts, and every time she eats it feels like a little triumph. When they’re ready to be adopted, we’ll have some good information about them for their forever homes.
If you are on the fence about fostering, let me run two scenarios by you: the first is that the next two weeks pass in which the world continues to be a baffling, often saddening place; the second is exactly the same, except you also have kittens in your house. Which do you choose? Exactly.
About the Author: Glen David Gold is the author of the bestselling novels Sunnyside and Carter Beats the Devil. His three-part memoir I Will Be Complete is available now. Learn more at glendavidgold.com.