It’s the change in their lives that makes fostering cats and kittens so rewarding for Lisa Archbold.
For the past three years Lisa has opened her home to cats and kittens, usually in a vulnerable state and, sometimes, sick, brought to the SPCA in Wellington.
They flourish in a home environment where the people contact also helps socialise them.
By the time Lisa returns them to the SPCA, now based in the former fever hospital in the Town Belt above Newtown, they are “in a different space” and ready for a permanent home.
Giving them back is the worst part but knowing they will soon be ready for their new homes makes it all worthwhile.
I always choke up when I bring them back,” she says.
In a number of cases, friends have adopted kittens that have stayed at Lisa’s home.
However, there was one she didn’t return, a boy, now named Bobo.
She says that this shy tabby, now three, has become the “smoochiest” and like a teddy bear.
Lisa has been a volunteer with the SPCA in Auckland and then Wellington for many years.
In Wellington she began helping with vet care and interviewing new volunteers.
Lisa was then asked to do fostering and joined a team of more than 300.
After the hard sell to her partner, she began fostering more than three years ago.
The main requirement is a separate space in the house. This could be a bedroom or a bathroom.
The fosterer must also be able to ensure that the animals have their regular flea and worm treatments during the foster period. SPCA has a veterinary practice that provides these, as well as any medications required.
She and her partner have four cats of their own so the fostered cats and kittens must have a dedicated room of their own, especially if any are sick.
Foster cats and kittens (the ones she has without their mother are always weaned) at Lisa’s are spoiled for choice with a queen-sized bed to sleep on or under.
Lisa puts plastic on the carpet if she thinks it might be needed.
“The room is a nice warm safe spot to be,” she says.
She says a person has to be an animal lover to successfully do fostering.
Bringing out her maternal side
Lisa jokes that it brings out her maternal side.
As Lisa works for herself she chooses the number and age of animals according to her varying work schedule.
She needs to be home enough if the cats and kittens need to be socialised. Often they are timid because of what they have been through before they reached the SPCA.
However, an adult cat recovering from minor illness or injury can be left longer if the foster parent is away at work.
Lisa gets up a little earlier each day to service the room and spend time with the animals.
Fostering a family affair
Family members also help.
“It is always very sweet to have young animals in the household,” Lisa says.
Kittens are desexed once they weigh 1 kg – usually around eight to ten weeks of age.
Sometimes the foster cats or kittens are recovering from sickness and need to be left in peace.
Lisa believes the home environment makes a big difference to their recovery.
Over the years, she’s had only two that didn’t make it and had to be put to sleep.
The SPCA has another team of volunteers who look after newborn kittens in their homes that require round the clock three-hourly bottle feeding.
The Wellington SPCA has more than 300 people fostering animals – mostly kittens and cats.
Even sheep and horses
But they also foster dogs, puppies, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens and, even, sheep, goats and horses.
The foster season in Wellington traditionally runs from September until early winter.
SPCA provides all the supplies needed for fostering.
Animals are welcome to stay as long as it takes to get them a new home.
More fosterers are always needed. The SPCA has branches around New Zealand. Contact them if you can help.
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