On National Kitten Day, Cat Parents Reveal Secrets to Successful Fostering

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Wednesday, July 10, is National Kitten Day, a celebration of all cats under the age of one — and in the midst of what animal shelters call “kitten season,” calls are mounting for foster families to help free up space.

Fox News Digital spoke with two experienced kitten foster parents about the process and their personal stories.

“Foster care is about providing a temporary home for cats and kittens who are looking for a forever home,” Linnea Gomez of Greenbelt, Maryland, told Fox News Digital in a phone interview.

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“In the meantime, you care for them, meet potential adopters and help facilitate their placement in their permanent home.”

Gomez has been fostering cats with A Cat's Life Rescue for about two and a half years. She's fostered 43 kittens since she started fostering, as she puts it, “by accident.”

Tuxedo cat looking at the camera with a disturbed look.

It's a myth that pet parents will want to adopt all of their kittens, said Linnea Gomez of Maryland — although she did adopt Fable (above), one of her former protégés. (Courtesy of Linnea Gomez)

“I love animals, I love cats, and a friend of mine posted on Facebook this desperate plea for help,” Gomez said. “She had a kitten that she couldn’t foster and she was going to have to let him go because he was a little older and feral, and she thought he could be domesticated.”

The cat, “a 4-month-old kitten, hissing and angry,” then moved into Gomez's garage, where he stayed for a few weeks.

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“By the end, he and I were best friends and I was hooked,” she said.

Tina LeBaron of Ellicott City, Maryland, also fosters cats with A Cat's Life Rescue, she told Fox News Digital in an email.

“He and I were best friends, and I was hooked.”

She got into fostering after her daughter suggested it, as they already had a dog and an older cat and thought it would be a good home for the kittens to socialize with dogs and children. Their older cat, Stormy, was adopted into another foster home at A Cat's Life Rescue.

Despite her limited time spent caring for kittens, she and her family have already fostered “about 13 cats.” They currently have two cats up for adoption.

A pile of four kittens, one calico and one striped.

One foster family for the kittens (four of them are pictured here) told Fox News Digital that it was “awesome” to see the kittens discover the world. (Courtesy of Tina LeBaron)

“Ten of [the fosters] “There were kittens, and three of them grew into adults,” she said. “Our first group was a litter of five, which was a learning experience.”

While LeBaron had grown up with cats who went on to have kittens, welcoming kittens who had previously lived outside was very different, both for her and the cats.

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“When [the kittens] “They come from areas where they ate garbage or where food was scarce, they have to learn to be comfortable with something other than humans — and some do it sooner than others,” she said. “Foster care teaches you how different each kitten’s personality is.”

“You never know what they’re going to like.”

An adopted kitten should have food, medication, kitten-sized litter boxes and “lots of toys” on hand, LeBaron said.

“You never know what they’re going to like,” she said.

Places where a kitten can hide, such as cat trees, are also helpful.

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“In some ways it's more important [to know] “Which you don’t need either,” she said. “Everyone knows that kittens can be curious or hideous when they’re in a new environment, and when they haven’t been socialized in a home, they sometimes choose the strangest places to hide.”

She also said, “I didn't realize how many different types of cat parks they made until I started fostering.”

Gomez has exclusively fostered kittens because her home is smaller and kittens need less space than an adult cat. She has three foster kittens named Pastina, Macaroni and Ravioli.

“I keep them in a bathroom,” Gomez said.

She has two “resident cats,” including Fable, a “foster failure” she adopted directly from a foster family.

A tortoiseshell cat and a torbie cat looking at the camera.

Tina LeBaron's two “resident cats” come from A Cat's Life Rescue, she told Fox News Digital. Tiramisu, right, is a “foster failure” and was adopted from a litter the LeBarons took in. (Courtesy of Tina LeBaron)

Fable, unlike his brother Ballad, does not appreciate the presence of his adopted siblings and must be separated from them, Gomez said.

The ballad, on the other hand, “likes to play with [the kittens]wants to interact with them. He's like their uncle.

Fostering kittens is “doing a service”

Gomez and LeBaron agree that the biggest “myth” associated with fostering kittens is that one person will be tempted to keep them all.

“I enjoy helping them all, but you can tell from their personalities that some of them won’t find your home the best fit,” LeBaron said.

Gomez said that while seeing the kittens get adopted by others is difficult, “once you've done it a few times, it gets easier.”

She said: “You see how happy people are with their new family members and how happy the cats are in their new homes. And it makes it all worth it.”

A split image of three adorable kittens.

Macaroni (left), Ravioli (center) and Pastina (right) are Linna Gomez's current foster cats – her 41st, 42nd and 43rd foster cats. (Courtesy of Linnea Gomez)

Sponsorship, Gomez said, is about “really giving back and helping keep cats out of shelters or on the streets.”

Another misconception about fostering kittens, LeBaron says, is the amount of work and time it takes.

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“I think the other misconception is that it's a lot of physical work all the time or that you're always trying to socialize them, and they're resilient,” she told Fox News Digital.

Although there are times [when] “It's a lot of work, especially in the beginning,” LeBaron said, “any comfort you can give the kittens helps convince them.”

As the kittens get older and more comfortable, it becomes easier to care for them, she said.

“Any comfort you can give kittens helps win them over.”

“Some of the older cats became so comfortable that they began to consider this place their forever home, but I am happy to report that all three adjusted to their true forever homes in less than a week and have been extremely happy there,” she said.

Plus, LeBaron said, the experience of raising baby animals can be downright adorable.

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“Foster families can teach permanent cats as much as permanent cats teach foster families,” she said, noting that one of the older cats she fostered taught her cat Tiramisu how to open containers by dropping them.

“It’s also great to see the kittens learn everything they have to learn,” LeBaron said. “For example, the first time our foster parents saw a ladybug, they looked out the window and watched it for about an hour.”

Adorable torbie resting on a cat platform near a window.

Anyone considering fostering cats can contact a local organization and “let them know you're interested,” one foster parent said. (Courtesy of Tina LeBaron)

Anyone considering opening their home to kittens — or any cat in need of a temporary home — should “do it,” LeBaron said.

“If you want to try it, contact an organization and let them know you’re interested,” she said. “Often they have some of the necessary items you’ll need and can help you get set up. If you don’t like it, you can always stop.”

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Gomez said fostering kittens, while it may seem intimidating, “is more doable than people think.”

“Fosterning kittens is awesome,” she said. “I love it.”

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