This Toronto couple has fostered more than 100 cats
One winter about five years ago, Sarah and Kevin Wilson noticed two feral cats hanging around outside their Toronto home, and one of them was injured.
The decision to bring the cat inside and then to a vet would eventually lead to a journey of helping more than 100 cats.
After the cat was treated, they brought her inside to recover, Sarah told blogTO.
"She started to warm up to us," Sarah said.
And then the couple got a surprise.
"She actually ended being pregnant," she said.
They kept her until she gave birth and she had seven kittens, two of which the couple decided to keep.
"That was the best experience ever, when we had to say goodbye to them it was really hard," Sarah said.
It was so rewarding that the couple decided they wanted to do it all the time.
"It was so great to experience being with a mom cat who going through all the changes and learning to trust you," said Sarah. "It just so fascinating to me, the whole delivery process and just how their instincts kick in."
"It's even more amazing to watch the kittens as they learn and grow and start to walk and adjust to life," she said. "It's kind of like seeing life through new eyes. Everything is surprising and amazing to them."
They connected with Toronto Cat Rescue (TCR) through a friend. TCR started more than 25 years ago and has rescued over 25,000 cats, mainly in Toronto, but they also work in Kitchener Waterloo, said Belinda Vandersluis, TCR executive director.
Normally TCR rescues about 2,700 cats a year, Vandrsluis said. They work with shelters and take cats to a network of about 450 foster homes.
Although the TCR took time to work on a safety protocol last March, they kept going during the pandemic and took on cats from shelters, which were opened for emergencies only. Because the TCR doesn't have a physical shelter, they didn't have to stop operations.
The Wilsons started fostering in 2016. Fast forward to 2021 and the couple has fostered 104 cats and kittens. Some have stayed a few days, others a few months.
"I remember them all," Sarah told blogTO.
The couple even cleared out a room in their home for them.
"We have a kitten room where my office used to be," she said.
Having a closed room, known as a safe room, is important as it keeps the cats quarantined from other pets in the home and helps them adjust to a new environment slowly. They have a camera in the room to make sure the cats are okay.
Both Kevin and Sarah have full time jobs — Sarah is a research administrative assistant and Kevin is an accountant. When they first started fostering, Kevin worked 15 minutes away from home so he could stop by at lunch to check in on the cats.
With the pandemic, they now work from home, allowing them to take on cases that require a bit more attention, such as kittens who require feedings every two to three hours.
The couple has had different types of cats and kittens — some that need socializing, others with health problems, plus pregnant cats.
While it's difficult to let them go, Sarah started an Instagram account for her foster cats, and people who adopt them post photos of their cats so she can see how they're doing.
"There have been a couple over the years that have been a little more special than the others but we have our own cats and we can't have another cat," she said. "Knowing that they're going to good homes, it's a little bit easier to let them go."
Sarah said it helps to be a calm person with cats, particularly the cats that are scared. They get cats with specific needs — some might have an allergy or some may not be using their litter box, so a foster home should be prepared to help these cats.
"Having patience and a space that is 100 per cent for them is definitely helpful," she said.
Occasionally a cat is very sick and dies, so a foster parent should be prepared for that possibility.
Sarah plans to continue to foster cats as long as she can and says she enjoys each one.
"Each one is definitely unique, they have their own little quirks," she said.
via Sarah Wilson
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