On the prowl for foster carers

Animal Aid is seeking foster homes ahead of kitten season. Pictured are Animal Aid's Kirsty McCallum and Ellie Clarke, with adoption-hopeful Turtle.

Josh Farrell

As the weather begins to warm, many Gippsland residents relish the nicer days and sunny afternoons.
But for animal rescue organisations such as Animal Aid in Fulham, it signifies the beginning of kitten season.
During the colder months, shelters can have next to no kittens, but numbers can grow astronomically when the weather begins to warm, as female cats come into heat.
Animal Aid at Fulham can see almost 200 kittens in a single season.
Manger Debby Goddard said they were looking for about 30 foster carers to keep up with the needs of the shelter throughout kitten season.
“No shelter is designed to have kittens long term,” she explained.
“They do much better if we can get them out into a family environment.”
Ms Goddard said if they reached the 30 to 35 mark of foster carers it provided the opportunity for carers to take breaks if needed.
They didn’t always reach that mark, but it was a goal they aimed for.
Animal Aid is searching for anybody willing to foster.
“It is better if [the foster carers] are home for a little bit of the time — so mums with little kids, people that work part time,” Ms Goddard said.
“People that work full time are okay as well; —we just need people who are willing to spend time.

Ms Goddard said being in a foster home helped kittens with their development.
“The more they can get used to the better,” she said.
“If they’re around dogs or around other cats … small children, big kids, older people, music, dancing — all that sort of stuff that they’re going to encounter later in life — is wonderful.”
Families often take kittens in groups of two to five so the kittens have company while learning to be more independent.
Animal Aid ensures foster parents don’t need to use their own money when fostering.
The shelter provides all of the food, bedding, litter trays and other requirements.
“It doesn’t cost them anything — it costs them time,” Ms Goddard said.
The centre hopes that as lockdown restrictions ease, families will visit Animal Aid and speak with the team to discuss the option of fostering.
If Animal Aid is unable to get enough foster carers in the Gippsland region, many kittens will need to go to Melbourne to be fostered, which reduces the options for people looking to adopt kittens in this region.
“All they [potential foster carers] need to know is that we need them and that we will give them all the support that we can,” Ms Goddard said.
Fosters need not fear. If they fall in love with the little ones they can keep them.
For more information, phone Animal Aid on 5144 5940, or visit the website.