Andrea has been fostering ASPCA animals for more than six years. During her extraordinary tenure with us, she and her family have cared for more than 170 kittens, most of whom normally wouldn’t be given a shot at life in a forever home due to overcrowding in shelters. So how does she find the time to do it all? Andrea says it’s a family effort, and everyone enjoys pitching in. We chatted with her about why fostering for the ASPCA has been such a great experience for her family.
ASPCA: What sparked your interest in animal care?
Andrea: We got involved with the ASPCA as part of my son Spencer’s bar mitzvah project. He’s now 18 years old, but in the spring of 2005, when he was 11, he was studying for his bar mitzvah. Our synagogue requires the children to participate in community service as part of their preparation.
Spencer wanted to work with animals but was not old enough to volunteer at the shelter. We learned about the foster care program, and started to work with the ASPCA.
ASPCA: Who in the family, besides you, is responsible for kitten care?
Andrea: What started as Spencer’s bar mitzvah project six years ago became a full-on family project in which everyone participates. My husband pitches in, but primarily it is Spencer and his brother and sister, Charles and Penelope, who do most of the loving and playing with the kittens. They also share in feeding and giving medication.
The way we work it is that the cattery lives in the boys’ bedroom, which they share. When no one is home, the kittens remain in the cage. When someone is home, or particularly in the boys’ room, we let the kittens out. It is a gigantic playground for them. Tons of places to climb and play, plenty of toys, and certainly plenty of socializing and affection.
ASPCA: How have the children benefited from fostering animals and participating in animal rescue?
Andrea: Two things have been important for us: First of all, especially when the boys were younger, we would sit on the floor in their room in the evening before bedtime and let the kittens out. Everyone was relaxed and we would laugh and talk and play. It was a time to be together and away from the TV or the computer.
The second thing I think the children have gained is the ability and interest to be cuddly and affectionate and caring with something small and furry. The kittens are just so funny and cute and vulnerable that it brings out the compassionate and gentle side of just about everybody, including teenage boys.
ASPCA: Anything you’d like to say to potential foster parents and their children?
Andrea: Fostering kittens has brought hours and hours of laughter and joy to our house. There is no way to walk in the door at the end of the day in a bad mood and stay in that bad mood once you see the kittens. They are a constant draw for all of us, and we always want to be around them. We highly recommend becoming a foster family.