Neonatal kittens and puppies: Mirna knows what to do. Mirna has fostered many litters for us and often is up at night taking care of feedings, cleanings, and cuddles. Many babies who pass through her home come without their mothers, and Mirna doesn't hesitate to step in. She currently fosters three kittens who came to us in desperate need of care. Her own pets are pros at helping foster siblings feel at home and teaching them the ropes of how to cat.
How long have you been a foster and what inspired you to first become a foster?
I started fostering here at the start of kitten season last year. But 8 years ago, before we moved to the area, we lived in Tampa, FL and I fostered with the humane society there. Took some time for life and kids and decided that was a part of my life I really enjoyed and wanted to build it back in.
What are your favorite kinds of animals to foster and why?
Kittens! All the smushy kittens! Haha. Cats are a bit misunderstood sometimes. They are just as snuggly, loveable and loyal as dogs. The only difference is they live in a different energy space than dogs. If you understand that you’ll understand them.
How did you decide that fostering an animal(s) would be a good fit for your family? What is some advice you would give to someone who is looking to become a foster?
My kids and husband interacting with the kitten is great and it really helps socialize them. But a foster should understand that the main commitment and responsibility is solely theirs. I enjoy giving the kids the experience of caring for these little lives and enjoying the feeling they are making a difference. But I’m the one sole caretaker and I’m under no impression my kids are waking up for nighttime feedings, ha!
What is the most rewarding part about fostering for you?
Giving a little life a safer and loving start. The world is a tough place sometimes. Big or small seems a shame for any life to start off rough. The more loved and socialized I can send off a kitten to its future home the better its chances of becoming a loved member of a family.
What is the most challenging part about fostering for you?
Losing a foster. That’s tough. Maybe it’s mom guilt but I can’t help and wonder if I could have done more sometimes.
Can you share specifics about your favorite foster success story? And a story that was tricky to manage (maybe the animal just didn’t work in your home, it was ill, it required further intervention, etc)?
Hmm, I’m not sure I have a favorite. I’ve loved each one for their own separate little personalities and reasons. I did recently foster an adult cat Lucy for a short bit. She was a spicy lady who needed to be given daily prescription pills. It’s one thing to control a kitten but a grown lady cat who had no qualms about letting me know what she thought of me and those pills was a whole other story. She taught me to approach assertively but with respect. To remember that it was fear and pain (and a touch of attitude!) causing her reactions.
Do you have your own pets? If so, how do you manage caring for your own pets while also fostering?
I have a black lab, a cat who was a foster fail and chickens. I manage it with a schedule and everyone understanding I’m the leader. Having a routine and guidance really helps everyone to feel stable and comfortable to what their positions in the family are.
Do you do anything specific to intentionally prepare the animal you are caring for to become available for adoption? (i.e. socialization, exposure, training) and how do you manage that?
The kittens in my care are predominantly taken care of by me but I make sure my kids and husband feed them a few times as well so they connect the positivity of a warm bottle with all types of humans. When they are ready to play they are socialized with everyone in the family. They are raised around and play with my dog so they become comfortable and familiar with dogs. My cat also helps with their grooming and teaching them cat behaviors. They get an all around socialization here.
What do you want the public to know about what it means to be a foster parent and work with Asheville Humane Society?
The foster team is a great support! If someone is nervous about what they might be getting into they should know they have a great support system. Questions are always answered and help is only a call away.
Have you ever had a foster “fail” yourself? And how did you know that animal belonged in your family permanently?
My foster fail is our cat, Mouse. He was a pip squeak with a terrible case of diarrhea and digestive issues. If you’ve ever heard the expressions parents use on a baby, “how can so much come out of something so little” that’s how I felt with Mouse. Him and I went through things, lol. Between baths, booty cream, modified socks as kitten diapers, booty baths, being the bullied runt of the litter, well we had just shared too much for me to let go of this little guy.