Deb Unger loves to foster cats. She and her husband have fostered 300 cats since 2014 here in Northern Virginia. Deb has a 100% success rate for finding her cats a forever home. So I decided to ask Deb about this fostering-cat passion.
Cats need to move from shelters to homes
According to the American Humane Society in 2016, 71% of cats in U.S. shelters were euthanized. Dang it, I’m crying. That’s a lot of cats.
But the news is getting brighter!
The euthanasia rate continues to go down. That’s because, as a nation, we decided to neuter our animals, resulting in fewer unwanted animals. Many of us now choose to adopt. Some of us run TNR (trap -neuter-return) programs for outdoor cat colonies. Others foster cats and dogs until they find their forever home.
Read this great NY Times Article, Why Euthanasia Rates at Animal Shelters Have Plummeted!
Deb fosters cats -- mostly pregnant cats and kittens!
She takes care of their physical issues. And she helps them discover the joys of living with humans. That way, they can find their perfect human match for life.
Deb’s dream is that someday we’ll have to go on a waiting list to get a cat of our own! Just the opposite of “too many cats.” It’s a pretty lovely dream.
Listen to my interview with Deb!
Here are some highlights
Single cat syndrome
Deb preaches that young cats (up to 9 months) should be adopted in pairs, preferably with a litter mate or another cat they know. If they are the one cat in the family, they won’t learn how to be social with other cats. They can be quite nasty when you try to bring another cat into the house.
Two moms and 12 kittens
Deb once got a call to see if she’d foster two pregnant cats. After a bit of “Yes, you can do this, Deb! You just need to provide a quiet space for birthing”, she agreed.
The protocol, based on experience, was to keep the cats apart so they stayed calm. Deb, however, had a feeling that these two cats knew each other. They might even be related. So she brought one cat (in a carrier) into the other cat’s room. They both purred and head-butted on the carrier, so she let the cat out.
With that barrier removed, they moved together and started grooming each other. Relief! They were reunited!
The older cat had her kittens first while Deb was out – five of them. A few days later, the second cat had seven kittens. It was probably her first litter because she freaked out at seeing these little souls. I was joking that she’d look in at them and think, “Are they still there? Why hasn’t someone taken them to the nursery??”
In the meantime, older cat stepped up to nurse all 12 kittens! Deb did her magic to calm the second cat and she finally began nursing them.
In the end, all 12 kittens were adopted out in two’s and three’s. Best yet, the two mother cats were adopted together!
Deb uses intuition when she helps people find their perfect cat. Sometimes they are sure they want one cat! But Deb senses something, and is able to show them a cat feels more like he or she is going to be their forever cat! Taking my UConnect animal communication class has helped – she’s more confident of her intuition. And she hasn’t had one cat returned!
Question of the Century: But how do I let my foster go to their next home?
Deb “ugly cries” every time she gives up a foster cat to their forever home. But she says the reward of seeing pictures and hearing stories from the adopters about their cat makes it all worthwhile.
You don’t have to adopt two pregnant mother cats, she reminds us. One grown cat who gets to leave the shelter because we fostered them, is a great service! What matters is you try it, see if you can handle it and know you’re giving a cat a good life!
Want to learn more about fostering?
Here are a few organizations Deb has worked with in the metro DC area. Feel free to Google cat or dog rescue to find more or ones where you live.
What has been your experience with fostering animals?