My husband and I started getting more involved with the community of Los Angeles animal rescues and shelters on behalf of Vetcreations early this year. At first, it was more about learning how things work from the rescues and shelters’ perspectives, as well as trying to collaborate. Just like many other “foster parents,” even though conceptually we knew how scarce the support and resources were for the homeless pets in need, once we really witnessed how that meant in reality, we couldn’t help but rolling up our sleeves and took our first litter of orphan kittens home.
That was the end of April, and since then, we have fostered 7 kittens and 2 dogs. (By the way, our current foster kittens are up for adoption. Please email us if you are interested!)
Being a foster parent for pets has been a very unique, rewarding, and emotional journey for me, personally. Each animal that we have hosted and raised, holds a special spot in my heart. From feeling completely strange and uncertain, to appreciating each different personality and knowing their individual voices, “trouble-making patterns” by heart, is truly incredible. Throughout the process, each of the animals has connected to me, and taught me something in his/her own beautiful way.
Our current foster kittens are Leafy and Ninja.
Leafy came underweight, and Ninja was extremely fearful. They went separately to the shelter, and because Ninja was hissing and hiding, unwilling to eat, the staff paired them together so Ninja would have a buddy. They were handed to us the first time they met each other.
The first day was brutal to everyone. Ninja felt so alone and scared that she was constantly crying heartbreakingly and trying to run away. Head budding the gate, hissing, freezing and shaking when we got close to her. She had escaped a few times from the corner we set up for them, so we then named her Ninja. Leafy was very sweet and didn’t mind people at all, but he had diarrhea and was still trying to learn how to eat on his own. Being a week younger than Ninja, he was clueless and instinctually following her around. When Ninja freaked out, Leafy then freaked out with her. When Ninja escaped, Leafy followed her steps. When Ninja hissed at us, Leafy picked up the behavior as well.
At first, we thought that Ninja just needed more personal space to settle in. It was a lot for a sensitive young kitten. New environment, new food, new people, even the dude with a stinky butt next to her was new! (Leafy) However after a day or so, she just seemed to be more scared and disconnected, we then tried a more proactive approach called “touch therapy.” Every few hours, we would gently cradle Ninja (and Leafy too, since he started hissing at us) for 10 to 15 minutes, to help her get used to human touch and presence.
The touch therapy didn’t seem to work on Ninja the first few days. We would only see Leafy around when we were in the house. However after about a week, we started hearing two kittens chasing and playing with each other at night when we were in bed, and Ninja wouldn’t rush to hide when she saw us playing with Leafy.
One day, when I was watching TV, Ninja quietly and a bit hesitantly walked up to me. She didn’t make eye contact with me, but she made a brave decision to sit right against my lap. AND SHE PURRED.
Everything after that was just like magic. Ninja started talking to me, following me around, and enjoying cuddling with us. She is still shy and cautious, and yet she has become this sweetest little loving kitten that melts our hearts.
I am a sincere believer in love and patience. However little Ninja has shown me the pure heart of courage and openness is so valuable and powerful. Her instinct tells her to run away, to fear, and to suspect. She did those, but at one point, she also decided to bravely try something different, in spite of the primal fear. And that courage, has transformed our dynamic tremendously and brought so much joy and ease.
I feel very fortunate to witness the little warrior coming out of Ninja. It has been truly an amazing and beautiful experience.
From our foster family, I began humbly realizing the meaning of “Giving is not a duty but a privilege.”