Our Foster of the Month for September is someone we can’t show enough appreciation for! Riann has been fostering kitties in need since 2014—she was even here for the grand opening of SAFe’s Shoreline Adoption Center! Over the years, Riann has helped more than 90 cats find their way to good homes.
Whether taking in a scared kitty who needs some PLC (patience, love, and care, or the “Riann special” as we like to call it) or helping transport cats to SAFe Rescue for a better chance at getting adopted, she’s always ready to lend a helping hand.
Riann first got a glimpse of how much good fosters can do after receiving much-needed support from the previous foster of scared kitty Flora, who she adopted right here from SAFe.
Initially, Riann worried about whether she could foster because she didn’t know how she would stop herself from adopting them all. Luckily for us and the kitties, she decided she was ready to give fostering a go. “I witnessed how well SAFe did finding homes for cats and very low return numbers. So when I was asked to foster an adult cat I took the leap and said yes. My first foster, Mara, was a bit of a medical mess but the sweetest girl.” Riann has been helping kitties find their new beginning ever since.
When asked about her most rewarding foster experiences, Riann says, “I love fostering the cute kittens, but my wheelhouse is working with the shy/scared adults. This group is difficult to get adopted out, and if they don’t have a place to settle and receive PLC their chances of a home are much slimmer.”
Often, these kitties take bigger pieces of our hearts when they leave us, and Bilbo was that special foster for Riann. She gushes, “I wasn’t sure I could get past his wall. If SAFe could find an adopter like me who could look past his issues, great, but those types of adopters don’t grow on trees.” After some much-needed time in a real home where Riann gave him all the PLC he could need, Bilbo ended up being one of her friendliest and funniest fosters! Although it wasn’t easy letting him go, she was happy to know she helped a kitty who really needed it to find a home he deserved!
Fostering comes with highs and lows, triumphs and struggles. Shadow #2 (Riann has fostered a few Shadows!) was one of her biggest foster challenges but also one of the most rewarding! She writes, “He had behavior issues. Shadow could intimidate in his first interactions with humans. At the time, I was volunteering in the Jackson Galaxy Cat Pawsitive program that SAFe was participating in. I used the skills learned in that program to redirect his energy. He learned a few tricks, stopped the feet/ankle attacks, and started to trust humans.” Once the trust was there, Riann was so happy to see Shadow #2 was quite the loving cat!
“Just do it” is the advice Riann has for humans considering fostering cats. She writes, “Yes, it is hard and there are scary times, but what you get back is a hundredfold knowing you have helped a living being on its way to find a warm, safe, loved home.” Many potential fosters hesitate because they’re scared to fall in love. She says, “I tell myself that they are ready and I have done my part for these babies to find their new beginnings.” Focusing on the fact that another kitty may need her helps her through the goodbyes and keeps her path of helping all the cats she can!
It takes a village to care for kitties in need and Riann’s co-pilots happen to be her own cats! They are putting in work that humans just aren’t capable of, like showing other kitties that they’re safe in the home. She writes, “With adult cats that I’m fostering for shyness/behavior, I will use a full door insert that is made of wood, plexiglass and screening. I use it only when I am home, and the foster has been at my house for 3 or 4 weeks. Doing this helps me evaluate if the foster is okay around other cats which can be a key piece in the cat’s bio.”
Fostering in a world of social distancing has kept boredom at bay, and brought a sense of connection for Riann. She says, “Fostering has kept me grounded, reminded me I can still help with something during these topsy-turvy times, and reminded me that I’m needed.”
Fosters like Riann are not only needed but so appreciated by all of the humans and kitties here at SAFe!