Do you remember our post about the $10 kittens? The whole time we were writing that, we kept thinking of Quincy and his mum, and how much better the whole pet shop system would be if we followed their lead. So, without further ado, we'll pass the keyboard over to Quincy:)_________________________________________________________________
My name is Quincy, and I am a foster kitty ambassador. My Mama fosters for Kindred Kitties of Kenosha, Wisconsin, and she was asked to share our experiences of how our fostering and adoption process works as opposed to a pet store selling kitties cheap with no medical attention, shots, etc. at all.
First of all, let me say that we love fostering and highly recommend it to anyone considering it. What a sense of fulfillment you get by taking an animal into your house and giving it shelter, clean water, good food, love and attention, socialization, and then seeing the joy on the faces of it's new forever family at adoption time. Many of these kitties are abandoned in homes, tossed outside, or are born outside to feral mothers, and your home could be the difference between life and death for them. Our program is no kill, but our local humane society is not. We are limited by foster space as to how many kitties we can have in the program at any given time, and we have reached upwards to the low 300's during kitten season. Our adoptions have been in the 900's for the past three years.
We have been fostering for 3 1/2 years now, and I was part of the second litter Mama fostered. Mama already had 2 kitties before me, and she kept 2 more after me. These are my "sisters", and most of the time I wish she would just return them all. Yes, I am the Male, the King of the Castle, and I rule with an iron paw....OK Mama, we'll get back the the fostering now. All together we have fostered over 350 kitties, since we average around 100 per year. Crazy, yes, there are 3 spare bedrooms in our house, and we usually have multiple litters in at least 2 of them in the height of the season. We have fostered many, many Mama's with babies, and have even had six give birth in the house. Fostering is not always easy as there are mouths to feed and litter to scoop and medicine to give and socializing to do and driving to the vet or to Petco. Sometimes you lose one or you lose a whole litter, and your heart just breaks. There are many times Mama just wanted to quit, but how can you turn your back on the little ones?? The homeless and the helpless and the injured and the sick?? So we push on and keep doing what we're doing - saving as many as we can, one at a time.
Our adoption fee is $80 for one and $120 for two since we feel so strongly in them going out in pairs. People often ask - "Why should I give you $80 when I can get one out of the paper (or from the farm or from my neighbor) for free." The difference is the medical work we put into the kitties and the extras that come with the adoption. All our kitties come with a leukemia (Felv) test, at least 2 distemper shots, deworming and defleaing.
Older kittens (4-6 mos.) and adults are also spayed/neutered and have a rabies shot. Adults are given a feline AIDS (FIV) test as well. All the kitties come with a certificate for a free Health Check to be used at a local vet within 2 weeks of adoption, and a discount certificate for spay/neuter if they are not already done. Most of our local vets accept it for 1/3 off. We give out a 4 lb. bag of Science Diet food with every adoption, and also a Petco coupon book. The coupon book has a coupon for a free bag of food, and many other coupons worth up to $120.
So what's the better deal - a "free" kitten or one that comes with the above?? We are only able to do all this and still charge so little because we do our own shots and testing and also order all our medicines at a discount. We have several low cost spay/neuter programs that we use not only for our kitties, but we welcome anyone from the community to use through us. Last year (2007) we were responsible for 999 spay and neuters, with a little under half being our kitties awaiting adoption. This year (2008) we already had 994 at the end of October. We could write a whole blog on the importance of spay/neuter, but we have a feeling we would be preaching to the choir. Let's just say it is a major focus of our program along with rescue. Mama always says she loves fostering, but will be glad when the day comes when there are no more to foster because that will mean that everyone has a forever home and responsible owners who practice spay/neuter.
Kindred Kitties has had an adoption center in our downtown area for the past three years, but before then we made appointments for people to see the kitties in the foster homes, or we used Petco. We still use Petco as it is a mutually beneficial arrangement and because they are such a wonderful store to work with. We have a place to show our kitties on the weekends and for certain holidays, and they get lots of sales from the new families and also do not have to keep kitties (or puppies) in the store. We are able to leave kitties at a second Petco we work with, but we are responsible for their total care while they are there. Many shelters and rescues have arrangements with their local Petco's and Petsmart's and other chain pet stores like these. We do not have any knowledge of any smaller pet stores selling animals in our area, but we do not think it is right at all for any of them to be selling animals who have not had proper preventative care and routine shots. There are rescues and shelters all over the world for these stores to work with, and they should take their cue from the larger chain stores and set up such an arrangement.
Happy New Year everyone, and thank you for reading about our experience!!! Remember to encourage everyone to spay/neuter their animals and to adopt from a shelter or a rescue. Your new best friend is out there waiting for you, and you're saving a life as well!!
Isn't that amazing?! Over 350 lives have been saved by Quincy and his mum. That makes them heroes in our eyes. Thankyou Quincy, for writing such a great piece. We hope for the day when the kitten and puppy farmers see no profit, and give the business away!:)