Marie Forbush with two of her foster kittens. Submitted photo

Sometimes they stay a few weeks. Sometimes they stay forever.

But if a kitten or its mother ends up in Marie Forbush’s foster home, one thing is for certain: They will be loved.

Name: Marie Forbush

Town: Auburn

Family: Married with four grown children and five grandchildren

Job: Retired; currently kitten foster parent for the Greater Androscoggin Human Society in Lewiston

How long have you been fostering kittens? I have fostered about 5 years.

How many kittens have you fostered? I really have not kept track of the number of kittens and cats over the years. I believe last year it was about 30 kittens. It is very rare I do not have a foster.

How did you get involved with fostering? I got involved in fostering after reading about the overwhelming amount of cats and kittens that come into GAHS every year and their need to have community involvement to provide foster homes for pregnant cats and kittens. I had the time and the room and love animals.

Why kittens? The greatest need for fosters is often for kittens. Kittens are very susceptible to illness and disease that often are present in shelters. Some kittens need round-the-clock care that most shelters cannot provide. Placing them in a foster home removes them from potential for illness and provides them the opportunity to grow and thrive in a home environment.

How many cats do you have of your own? Any other pets? I have several of my own cats. Several were “foster fails” that I just couldn’t part with.

What do they think of the fosters? My cats seem interested in the kittens but normally don’t engage in any playtime. I also have two Labs who love the kittens and often can be found with a kitten or two snuggled between their paws sound asleep.

Marie Forbush’s dog, Nara, cuddles with a foster kitten. Submitted photo

I imagine you’re up around the clock with the very ill kittens. How hard is that? Orphan neonatal kittens are the most challenging but also the most rewarding for me. They are a lot of work and you are sleep deprived for a while. They need to eat every two hours around the clock for at least the first two weeks. As they age, the feeding time can begin to be less frequent, and finally around four weeks we start weaning to food and have introduced the litter box. These babies have no mother, so you need to provide not only food but help them go to the bathroom. Neonatal kittens need constant monitoring, weight checks, looking for any signs of illness and making sure they are kept warm. If they are ill, medicine needs to be administered on a schedule. When these babies begin to thrive and you see them scurry across the floor chasing a toy, there is nothing more rewarding.

What’s your most memorable foster? It was a little kitten I lost last year. Despite everything I and medical staff could do, he didn’t make it. I had him for almost three months and just loved him. He fought so hard to live. I will never forget the little guy.

Tell me about the hardest kitten you’ve cared for: Probably the most difficult foster was a pregnant cat who was about 12 years old. She had a definite dislike of me! To say she was “spicy” was an understatement! Once she had her kittens, she took protecting her kittens to a whole new level! Going into her room to feed her and clean the litter box required stealth and a blanket. She finally began to relax and trust me. By the time she went back to the shelter she was actually seeking attention and head scratches. Even at her age she was a great mom and raised three beautiful kittens.

There are many less challenging foster opportunities that are just as rewarding. Fostering a pregnant cat and waiting for her babies to be born is exciting. Watching her raise her babies in a safe, quiet environment is such a joy. There are some kittens that need a little socializing or just need to gain a bit of weight before surgery. These foster opportunities are normally short-term fosters and also very rewarding.

How long do you usually keep the kittens? The time kittens stay in foster varies. Each foster opportunity is different. The two I have now have been with me about 10 weeks. As soon as they reach the required 2-pound weight requirement they can have their neuter surgery and be offered for adoption. The typical foster stay for kittens is eight weeks.

Is it hard to send them to new homes? Everyone says, “How can you send them back?” It is hard to say goodbye and I have failed a couple of times. That being said, letting go is all part of the fostering process.

What’s the most challenging part about fostering kittens? The hardest part of fostering is when you say goodbye, but you know you have saved a life and you have completed a job.

What’s the best part? The best part of fostering is you now can save some more!

Advice for families with a new baby cat? If you are a new kitten adopter, continue to nurture these little ones. Keep them up to date on their vaccinations, have regular veterinary check ups and just love and enjoy them.


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