May’s Foster of the Month is none other than socialization expert extraordinaire, Helen K!
Like a lot of new fosters, Helen was inspired to start taking care of orphaned kittens in 2017 after the passing of her cat Lily. “I missed having a feline presence around the house but wasn’t quite ready to make a commitment… and the almost never-ending chance of cuddling of kittens was too great to resist! I’d recommend anyone consider fostering kittens because you have them when they’re the cutest and just before they turn into naughty troubled tweens.” Helen’s been cuddling SAFe Rescue kittens ever since and has been a total juggernaut; in her four years of fostering, she’s cared for 49 kitties.
Helen says that the most rewarding cases are also some of the most challenging: the shy ones! Helen’s specialty is socializing kittens to become their most confident, happy selves, and she calls her home the Foster Finishing School. You’ve probably heard terms like “semi feral,” “fearful,” or “undersocialized.” All of these describe cats and kittens who haven’t yet built up positive relationships with humans, and as such can be fearful or timid around people. This makes them perfect pupils for Helen’s Finishing School. “They come into your house like it’s the last place they want to be, indifferent or soooo angry, avoiding any sort of eye contact or touch… then one day, they decide they’d rather cuddle and purrr – and that humans aren’t so bad after all,” says Helen, who over the years has developed lots of specialized skills to help her students come out of their shells. And every case is a unique challenge; “Each kitten/cat has their own timeline and language – and what works with one doesn’t always work with the rest. Lots of trial and error.”
Helen doesn’t just help the kittens, though: she’s also a big part of SAFe Rescue’s human community, acting as a mentor to newer foster homes who are learning about kitten socialization! Helen has worked with other fosters on-one-one and shares her tips and progress on her Instagram, @foster_queenk. (It’s definitely an account to follow.) On Helen’s feed, you might see some pictures of her distinguished cat Stormy, who helps out as a role model for the youngsters once they get the all-clear for introductions. “He is my secret socializing weapon when I’m not making much progress. All of my spicy kittens instantly make a beeline to Uncle Stormy when they see him and we work together as a team to help socialize,” says Helen of her majestic gray friend.
Right now, Helen and Stormy are really enjoying the virtual edition of Yum Yum Club, Helen’s virtual cooking club. When it’s safe to do so, she can’t wait to start cooking with her friends in person again. Until then, she’s keeping plenty busy with her creative outlets; Helen loves photography (again, we’ll really push that Instagram follow!) and arts and crafts.
Thank you so much to Helen for all of your hard work! You are a huge asset to shy kitties and the SAFe Rescue community!