Adventures in Fostering

As many of you already know, in the spring of this year, Mendon Pet Supply partnered with Kitten Korner Rescue. We built our "kitty room" and have fostered cats there and Johnny and I have also fostered many cats & kittens in our own homes. We entered into this endeavor as well as the pet care business in general just knowing we wanted to help and not really sure what to expect. The following is our story so far! We received our first litter of very small kittens in May. They were a beautiful, scrappy little bunch that were about 6 weeks old. We loved them as soon as we laid eyes on them!

In the weeks that followed, involving many (some panicked) phone calls to Laraine, the dedicated founder of Kitten Korner, we learned volumes about kitten care. We learned how to syringe feed and properly hydrate a fragile kitten that won't eat. We learned that they can climb over, out of or hide in places we thought we had "kitten proofed" and built fortresses that we had proudly declared impenetrable, only to find they have squeezed through the tiniest openings and essentially laughed in our faces! We watched, delighted, as each one "found their mew" and we heard their little voices for the first time. We learned about rescue medicine and unfortunately the fragility of life and loss when dealing with such tiny creatures who have been exposed to the perils of outdoor life at such a tender age. As our first "batch" was adopted we watched then go with dewy eyes and hearts filled with pride for our sweet babies.

In the months that followed, many more cats and kittens passed through our doors. It quickly became a family effort that included, my husband Mike and my adult children Johnny & Lisa.Johnny and I went on a couple of true rescue missions, provided transport and attended vet visits. Lisa still comes home from work looking forward to seeing her "babies" and has great patience to quietly sit with the painfully shy little guys and get them to trust people and play. Mike is considered the "zookeeper" taking on the feeding and scooping responsibilities. It has been a labor of love for us and an incredibly rewarding experience as we watch our little ones go onto their forever homes.

One of the other important things I learned is the inner working of the small non-profit. I have watched Laraine VanBlarcom, founder of Kitten Korner, put her whole heart into her organization. I have seen her take in animals that other organizations would not. I have seen the network of other small non-profits she has created relationships with come together to rescue or place animals in difficult situations. I have seen her more times that I can count say "yes" to someone when the proverbial "inn" was already full. In fact, she and her husband Dave affectionately refer to their home as "the orphanage" because I have also learned that inevitably there are some cats and kittens that just are not adoptable due to medical or behavior issues and just need some place to live comfortably. I can only hope that I can achieve a fraction of her dedication over time as I continue my journey. I have seen Kelly, our generous vet tech, donate her time and talents to run clinics to test and vaccinate our kitties. I have seen injured or ill cats getting excellent care from dedicated vets. Unfortunately, I have also seen medical bills cripple the budget to be later rescued by wonderful and big hearted donors responding to our fundraisers. Most of all I have seen a devoted group of fosters, administrative volunteers and a compassionate community do their part to keep things going!

So, in this season of giving, I urge you to consider this:

--Small nonprofits are run on a shoestring budget, some of the time involving their administrators and fosters putting out their own money to save or fosters a pet in need.

--They are completely dependent on donations. While large non profits do excellent work for the community and should also be supported, they often have corporate level sponsors that help offset the cost of fundraisers and operational expenses, small non profits do not.

--Every penny of your donation goes directly to the animals. In most small organizations there are no salaries issued to staff or overhead expenses of maintaining a facility. Donate Here:

Not able to donate at this time? Here are some great ways to help:

--Foster! It is a wonderful rewarding experience!

--Share our posts on Facebook! It takes less that 10 seconds and cost nothing! This is best way to spread the word on adoptable cats and special events.

--Volunteer! We have many fosters at the Kitten Room at Mendon Pet Supply, if you have time to help clean, just sit with, play with or help socialize our little ones for as little as fifteen minutes we would appreciate it. We also welcome responsible middle school and high school aged kids who need community service hours or just like to play with cats!

Contact me directly at 585-313-3928 if you are interested at helping at the store.

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