Foster Care: What I Considered?
Why foster care? This is a question I am asked almost daily by friends, family, and even strangers. Sitting here, surrounded by 3 tiny kitten faces really says it all. The perfect cure to a hard day is being surrounded by kittens wanting to play or their warm bodies snuggled on you, fast asleep.
Taking on a pet isn’t a light decision and neither is fostering. I love animals, and meeting new animals wherever I go is one of my favorite things. They all have different personalities, and unique ways of doing things which I enjoy seeing. Animals have taught me a lot about life and help me deepen my understanding and provide me new ways to see the world, and I wanted more of it!
We already have 2 cats, Shadow and Frosty, they are 6 years old now, they have slowed down in their mid life as we all do. We had more love to give and wanted to get another pet, probably a cat; maybe a dog. Our first consideration was – space. We live in a two bedroom apartment, which isn’t huge but still had the available space to provide for a foster pet (particularly a kitten or puppy). We already had a routine where the cats sleep in the bathroom each night, so it wasn’t difficult to see how we would be able to adjust this routine to introduce new animals and provide them a safe space to be alone. Our second bedroom/office/junk room was available for our older cats as it houses a computer with all those pesky cables we can’t just never hide (or keep neat) and our cats, being older, are no longer interested in chewing or playing with them. This freed up our bathroom as a safe place at night we could keep kittens while they get to know our cats during the day where I could monitor them.
We had to think about time, did we have enough time available to care, play, teach, and make their vet visits. Fostering does take some of your time and providing good care is essential. You need to have time and energy to devote to it, as the animals you are fostering are (usually) young or unwell they need special love and care. Like most things in life the more time you spend playing and interacting with your cat the more you get out of the relationship. I planned to spend time each day playing with our foster animals. Not only is it fun for me playing with animals it also prepares them to be the best possible pet for their furever home and family. The time commitment isn’t huge but you do need to put some aside, play with them each day, some cleaning up after them and, depending on their health, make vet visits as needed. Time spent with animals is very rewarding, I find it rather therapeutic, it makes me put down my phone or computer, be present, and play like a kid. I recommend trying it (or at the very least learning some mindfulness from your cat – insert link to article)! you feel like a kid again! Plus you get the joy of knowing you helped find this pet a loving home. There is no downside!
To foster or adopt, that is the question? Helping, and giving back to the community, is one of the things I enjoy doing in life. I wish I had more time to help out in life but we all have jobs and busy lives. I wanted a way I could help, do some good with the time I had available (building a blog takes time). When I adopt (as our two cats are) I only get to help one (or in our case, two) animals. Fostering gave me to ability to help many animals as well as people find long, loving relationships together.
The hidden secret of fostering!
After only a couple of weeks I have discovered the hidden secret of fostering. If you love kittens and just want to love kittens, fostering helps that happen! In fostering, you take the animals that are too young to be adopted to their furever homes and you raise them. Once they are old enough they go and meet their new family. This means that your house (and heart) are open once again to receive more kittens! Kittens are adorable, and in peak season the RSPCA in Sydney alone can get up to 200 per week that need fostering! I will be sharing my experiences with my first lot of foster kittens (George, Ninja and Molly), so subscribe to get updates on the next installment of my fostering journey (and if you want to be inundated with adorable kitten pictures check out our Instagram @sopurrfect_)
Fostering was the perfect opportunity of doing more for animals and me to give back.
Coming up I will talk about the foster program and my experiences fostering.
Meow for now … Kristian Taylor
For more information on fostering
Little Paws Kitten Rescue
RSPCA Foster program
8 Things Cats Taught Me About Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment. This is something that I observe daily in my cats and I notice how happy they are with their lives. So here I have collated 8 Things Cats Taught Me About Mindfulness. Mindfulness practitioners learn how to pay attention on purpose by practising specially developed mindfulness meditation practices & mindful movements. With practice, practitioners learn to slow down or stop brain chatter and automatic or habitual reactions, experiencing the present moment as it really is.
Do one thing at a time
I have notice that my cats rarely try and do two things at once. They do not try to eat while playing, or wash while sleeping. They are fully focused on each task, and when that is complete they move on to the next. By doing this they are able to fully experience the excitement of play, the flavour of food or the restfulness of sleep. I challenge you to try doing this, next time you are eating, focus only on the food – the colour, flavour, texture and smell of your food and see how different your experience is.
Do things deliberately
When our cats are playing they will sit and watch the red dot move along the carpet or the wall and they will pounce only when they are ready. They do not rush through the experience of play, instead they focus on it and their actions are not wasteful, or rushed. We can learn from this and do things intentionally, make every action count rather than just doing for the sake of it.
This can be hard in the modern fast paced world. However, if you do less you can do those things slower, more deliberately and with more focus. Cats do only four things and they do those things well. They don’t try and do more or less than what they can.
Cats always have time for a nap. What we can learn from this is always leaving enough space between tasks in your schedule. If you think something will take 15 minutes, allow yourself 30 minutes. That way you are not rushing and you are ahead of schedule, allowing yourself to complete the task slowly and deliberately rather than in a rushed way.
Prioritise Nothing Time
Cats ALWAYS have time to do nothing. They will sit in silence, gazing off into the distance as if you are not even there. They will sit in the sun and think about nothing but how nice the warm sun is on their fur. We could learn a lot from this and it only takes 5 minutes a day. Just sit in silence. Become aware of your thoughts. Focus on your breathing. Notice the world around you. Become comfortable with the silence and stillness.
Stop worrying about the future
How many times has your cat worried about what tomorrow brings? How many times have they worried about tomorrow’s schedule? If they could talk, I’m sure they would say NEVER. By always focusing on the future you cannot experience the present moment fully and you miss out on much beauty, and experience more anxiety. Learn to recognize when you’re doing this, then practice bringing yourself back to the present. Just focus on what you’re doing, right now. Enjoy the present moment.
When you are with someone, be present.
How many times has your cat had to head-boop you to continue the scratch you were giving them, because all of a sudden you had stopped, too preoccupied with your phone or the television. Cats give us their undivided attention without worrying what to do or say in response to us. When you are with someone, practice really listening to what they’re saying rather than thinking about your response or your to-do list. You will enjoy your time with them more and feel more relaxed afterwards.
Dogs will often scoff their food down without even taking a breathe. Cats however, are different. They will approach the food bowl, sniff at the food and take just enough for a mouthful. After chewing, they will approach the food bowl for more. Like our cats we should savour each bite, slowly, and really get the most out of our food. Interestingly, you’ll eat less this way, and digest your food better as well.
I would love to hear what your cats have taught you, Leave a comment below or on our facebook page
Meow for Now … Kristian Taylor
How To Keep Your Cat Calm In A Thunderstorm
Thunderstorms and lightning can be very unsettling, not only to people but pets as well. Dogs are known to be overly affected when Mother Nature displays her light and sound shows, but cats get nervous as well. Their reaction is different to that of dogs as most are known to hide under the beds or in dark corners and only come out when the storm has calmed down. If your cat gets nervous during a storm, all they need is care and protection. Here are several things you can do to help cats maintain their calm during a storm.
Try to stay calm during a storm
Cats are very sharp when it comes to reading body language and when you get nervous because of a storm, they’re likely to be anxious as well. Reassure your cat that all is okay by maintaining a calm demeanor but don’t overdo it. Try to avoid comforting your cat through coddling as this will fuel the fear factor in them. Make sure to maintain calmness and centered behavior during this time.
Make sure your cat is indoors
Your cat will feel very unprotected and vulnerable if he is caught in a thunderstorm outside. If he goes out, make sure you devise a way to get him back in so that he can feel safer in the house. It is important to keep him in the house or have a way he can get back inside especially if you are in a tornado-prone area. Cat doors are a good way to let your cat come and go to the safety of the house even if you aren’t home.
Provide safe hideaways
It’s natural for a cat to look for a more secure place to hide during a storm. If your cat wants to hide, allow him to do so. Leave his carrier open and, if possible, put a blanket inside it. You may also provide him with other hiding options such as cubby holes, large boxes or a covered cat bed. This can be positioned in areas where you and your cat spend a lot of time. By keeping this cat hidey hole in the living room, you’ll be encouraging your cat to stay with you instead of having to rush under the bed to feel safe.
Comfort your cat if that’s all they need
If your cat wants comfort, offer him that, but don’t reinforce fear when doing it. Your cat often gets too frightened by a rumble of thunder, and at times, all he need is your comfort for him to feel safe. Coddle him gently and make sure not to overdo it, as too much of it will send reinforcement signal to your cat that he is right in being nervous. You don’t want to reward the fearful behavior by coddling it too much; a mistake most of us do. Comfort your cat in a way that sends a calming signal to him. Speaking in a calm tone of voice and a slow rhythmic petting is very appropriate.
The best calming wraps on the market today is the Thundershirt. It was originally designed for dogs’. But when the product proved to be successful, the company came up with a cat design. If you decide to use the anxiety wrap, make sure to give your cat an ample time to adjust to it. Distract him with some play, to make him get used to it. Make sure to buy the right size for your cat. The Wrap comes with full set of instructions on how to use it, so you don’t need to worry about figuring it out on your own. Pheromones are also a good way to keep your cat calm, Feliway make one which is excellent.
If you live in a tornado-prone area, you may consider desensitization. This approach works to make your cat get used to the sound of a thunderstorm. It involves exposing him to recorded sounds of thunder, and rewarding him for maintaining calmness. After gradual training, your cat will get used to the sound of a storm as the response to the stimulus will go on decreasing.
If your cat gets frightened every time a thunder strike, then, a visit to the veterinarian should be the way to go. Some cats have extreme levels of anxiety that cannot be solved by any of the solutions above. If your cat is one of these your veterinarian can prescribe an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication to help keep them calm during a storm.
The bottom line
Cats do react to weather changes especially thunderstorms and tornado sounds, and that’s a normal thing. Several theories have been put forward to explain why this happens, with some claiming that it’s down to cat’s acute hearing ability that makes him detect thunderstorms before we are even aware of them coming. This knowledge makes it get nervous. If you see your cat behaving strangely, and you’re aware of a predicted thunderstorm, you can take some of the above measures before the weather gets crazy.
Meow for now …Kristian Taylor