VAO seeking foster homes for kittens, cats

Now a year-round need, the VAO hopes to find additional area residents that can take in felines on a temporary-basis

Stripe, a male cat available for adoption through the Voorhees Animal Orphanage, is one of numerous cats that has gone through the foster process with the VAO this summer.

The Voorhees Animal Orphanage, serving 22 municipalities in South Jersey, including 16 towns in Camden County, is continuing to urge area residents to look into fostering young kittens during the summer months.

According to the VAO, the period between March and August typically sees an increase kittens and cats to the shelter due to female cats going into heat, causing an increase in feline breeding.

However, Feline Care Manage Bill Romaine says the period has gotten longer and longer over the past several years, causing an increase in the need for additional foster homes.

Romaine says, presently, the community shelter has approximately 40 active fosters, but the number is constantly in flux and can change weekly.

Interested community members can fill out a Feline Foster Application on the VAO’s website at www.vaonj.org, and take home temporary kittens almost immediately, following a short interview.

“Fostering is really for those underage kittens that need a little time out of the shelter so that they don’t get sick, and could need to develop some social skills as well so that always helps as well,” said Romaine.

The VAO provides basic vet care, food, treats, toys and litter to foster parents to start at no cost. The length of fostering a kitten, according to Romaine, can last between a few weeks or several months, depending on a variety of factors.

Regardless, the work and role fosters are able to fill for the shelter, and most importantly in the lives of kittens, cannot be understated and are not underappreciated.

“I tell everybody, I hope their experience fostering is nothing but sunshine and rainbows and playing with kittens all day,” said Romaine.

Eileen Stukas, offsite feline care and adoption coordinator with the VAO, has been fostering for at least 10 years for the organization, while also assisting with adoptions and care locations for shelter felines in four area pet stores.

She says she was thrust into the world of fostering after realizing the overwhelming need for fosters over a decade ago, and the problem has only grown over time. But, of course, a problem that has a solution of playing with cats and kittens in her house for months at a time is one that she enjoys helping to solve.

“It’s extremely rewarding, but it’s also a little exhausting emotionally,” said Stukas, having fostered, she believes, more than 100 felines since starting at the VAO. “When you foster a litter, it can be anywhere between two to five … and especially during kitten season, I was fostering multiple litters at a time.”

Those who fill out an application to foster with the VAO can decide how many kittens they would like to foster, and can take as many or as few as they would like.

Additionally, while kitten fostering often tends to be the popular type among those interested, the VAO is also seeking fosters for felines in need of recuperation, socialization or hospice, as the shelter attempts to help felines in various ways.

“We have socialization, and we also have recuperation if they’re recovering from illness or surgery,” said Stukas. “And we also have hospice, where volunteers can take in an animal that has a terminal condition to give it quality of life for whatever length of time it has left.”