It was too soon.
Maureen had lost her beloved cat, Kat, to kidney failure and went to find a new one at Anderson Humane’s main shelter. “I couldn’t find a cat I liked,” she said, realizing now that the timing was off.
Thankfully, the person at the front desk suggested she try fostering. Seven years and hundreds of foster animals later, Maureen is still grateful for that suggestion.
“Now I can’t find a cat I don’t like,” Maureen said with a laugh. The proof of that statement is in her housemates, five feline foster fails: Rusty, Princess, Felix, Andy, and Toby. “The first three were my first three fosters. It was typical. I didn’t want to give them back.”
Maureen’s specialty is cats and kittens. She usually takes in the ones who need a little extra love to due to medical issues, age, specialty care, or just a need to be out of the shelter.
The newborns are the most time-intensive as kittens less than four weeks old need round-the-clock care, including bottle feeding and stimulation to use the bathroom. “I’m retired now so I have the luxury of being up with the animals,” Maureen said. “If I can help out and save a life, that’s a wonderful thing.”
She’s not exaggerating about saving lives. Newborn kittens, especially those without their mom, are vulnerable. About a year into her fostering run, Maureen was caring for a two week old who she says was fading. A veterinarian met her at the shelter at 8:00 p.m. on a Saturday to treat the kitten.
“It was clear they valued that kitten’s life,” Maureen said, adding that the vet was able to save her. “That truly endeared Anderson Humane to me. They’ve been a wonderful resource and support system.”
Despite their best efforts, not all of the kittens make it. “When you lose a kitten, it tears your heart apart,” Maureen said. “But then I realized that each loss has taught me something that will help save another life. I’ll know the signs earlier.”
The success stories keep Maureen going. She loves seeing an animal transformed. One feral cat would attack people until Maureen patiently loved him. “He’s a love bug now,” she said, adding that she puts him with the new kittens to help them settle in.
Maureen has changed too; she’s now able to let most of her foster animals go, and has even met a few of the adopters. “It’s good and hard,” she said. “It’s neat to meet them when you see them light up and know they really care and are about to make a life-long commitment to the animal.”
Though her commitment to the animals is temporary, Maureen says they still give her joy. “The work I do for them is nothing compared to what I get back. The animals give more love to me than I ever give them,” she said. “I’m not saving the world but I am providing love to an animal that gives unbounding love back. I can help this one animal go on to give others joy.”