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Becoming a kitten foster parent

September 23, 2008 | 11:32 pm

calico kitty!

Attention kitten fanciers (and who among us is immune to their utter adorableness?): Some tiny kittens need your help. 

What happens when an orphaned or abandoned unweaned kitten arrives at one of the six L.A. Animal Services shelters?  We hate to break this to you, but their prospects can be pretty dire. With shelter staffs already stretched thin, they're often unable to care for motherless kittens (who are extra-susceptible to upper respiratory viruses and other illnesses in the shelters).  End result? The kittens are sent to a foster home, if one's available. If not, they're euthanized. 

That's where you come in.

tabby kitty! All city shelters (North Central, South L.A., West Valley, East Valley, West L.A. and Harbor) offer a foster care program and are in urgent need of foster "parents" to care for underage kittens (and puppies) until they're eight weeks old. The shelters provide formula and bottles, veterinary care and 24/7 guidance over the phone. 

Foster volunteers can take in anywhere from a single kitten or puppy to multiple litters, depending on experience, available time and space. And should you fall head-over-heels for little Fluffy, you'll have the option to adopt when he or she reaches adoptable age.

"Fostering is not only helping to save a life, but fulfilling as well," says Bottle Baby foster parent training coordinator Valerie Markloff.  L.A. Animal Services "always needs volunteer foster parents and is always welcoming to anyone who would like to join the program."  More information, as well as a downloadable foster application, are available at the L.A. Animal Services website.

— Lindsay Barnett

Photos: Both kittens pictured are available for adoption. The female calico at top has been assigned ID No. A0982767 at the East Valley shelter.  The male orange tabby at bottom right has been assigned ID No. A0984318 at the West L.A. shelter.  You can inquire about either by calling (888) 4LAPET1. Credit: Los Angeles Department of Animal Services

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