Cats are romantics, and they have a soft spot for spring.
But Charlotte’s quirky winter weather – a late cold snap – put a crimp in their dating cycle this year, prompting a later than expected baby boom. As a result, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control Division is desperately in need of foster parents for kittens.
This includes people willing to bottle feed newborns.
The division has about 35 foster parents – also known as “critter sitters” – but needs double that number.
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All expenses are covered, and volunteers can pick the age group they want around the house, whether it’s demanding days-old infants or frisky toddlers who eat solid food and understand the concept of a litter box.
The goal, says division spokeswoman Melissa Knicely, is to take the county’s abandoned or donated kittens and nurse them to the size of a pound and a half, so they can be adopted out.
On average, the division gets about 1,650 kittens a year. Staff members bear most of the parenting weight, including one staff veterinarian who is now hosting 18 kittens in her home.
Veterinary technician Trisha Lopez says she lost count of the number of kittens she has fostered over eight years with the division. She is fostering several now and sets her alarm clock to wake up every two hours for feedings.
Lopez prefers the younger kittens because of the big moments. “You see those eyes open for the first time, or see a kitten take those first steps,” Lopez says.
Former Union County teacher Kathy Clarke is among the people who have signed up to foster kittens. She has taken in about 100, and she prefers older ones that don’t have to be bottle fed.
“What I love about this is that you really feel you’re making a difference,” says Clarke. “You are saving a life, and they go on to a home where they are loved.”
Not all volunteers succeed at fostering, though the division says the term “foster failures” is applied in an unexpected way.
“A foster failure is when we end up adopting the animal ourselves, because we fell in love,” says Knicely, who has adopted two pets from the division. “Fostering didn’t exactly work out as planned.”
Be a kitten foster parent
To foster a kitten, visit http://charmeck.org/city/charlotte/CMPD/organization/Support/AnimalControl for the online application or you can print out the application and mail it to: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control, c/o: Audra Stillabower, 8315 Byrum Dr., Charlotte, NC 28217.
The division will contact you to schedule a mandatory orientation/training session to be held at the shelter once a month. Questions: Audra Stillabower at 704-336-6693