The arrival of kittens at Nevada Humane Society’s shelter each spring and summer is followed by a small army of amazing individuals and families we call foster care volunteers. These big-hearted people take these little guys in for a few weeks until they are ready for adoption. While all foster caregivers are heroes in my book, I find the families to be most touching, perhaps because they bring back memories of growing up in my own family.
I did not realize it at the time, but my parents were animal rescuers. My father was always finding stray dogs and cats in Boston where he owned a business, and he would bring them home where my mother would nurse them back to health. Some were adopted to other families while others just stayed with us. My brother, sisters, and I all learned how to pick kittens up so as not to hurt them and as we got older, we were all trained in the proper way to bottle feed them. It was a wonderful time spent with our parents and these helpless little creatures that needed us.
Families are great for young animals especially during their critical socialization period—a window that closes at just 8 weeks for kittens and 12 weeks for puppies. Anything they do not experience in these first several weeks will be frightening to them later. So the more attention, handling, play time, and normal home life they get to experience in these early weeks, the better adjusted they will be throughout the rest of their life.
Looking back, the kittens were great for us as kids, too. Spending time with them we learned how to be gentle and developed a deep appreciation for other creatures. We also came to understand that the kittens needed our family even when we kids did not feel like looking after them—our parents modeled responsibility and shared its rewards, providing an important lesson for us.
So when eager children arrive at the shelter with mom or dad to pick up their foster kittens, it brings back warm memories, from over 45 years ago, of my parents and the many animals our family saved. I cannot help but think about the lifelong gift these parents are giving to their children—not to mention the gift of life they are giving to the kittens.
Events that Help Homeless Pets.
Adopt a Pet at NHS and Play Wheel of FURtune through April 29 at Nevada Humane Society, spin the wheel to win a cool prize or receive a reduced adoption fee. Open daily for adoptions 11:00 am to 6:30 pm and an hour earlier on Saturdays at 10:00 am.
April Showers Bring May Kittens Kitten Shower April 28at Nevada Humane Society. Donate Kitten Milk Replacement, heating pads/discs, nursing kits, dry or canned kitten food. Learn how to become a foster parent 1:00-4:00 pm. Call 775-856-2000 for more information.
Walk for Animals June 2 at Sparks Marina. Register today to help raise $100,000 for homeless pets. Brochures available at area businesses or download one from http://www.NevadaHumaneSociety.org.