Jane tells of her experiences fostering cats for Our Special Friends

Oliver and Storm were my second set of foster cats for Our Special Friends. My own cats had both died a couple of years ago. I decided to foster to keep me company during the pandemic as my partner was away and to help someone else at the same time. I tried local cat charities, but at that time (October 2020) they weren’t looking for fosterers. One charity did sign me up as a volunteer, but all that came of that was I had to complete an online course on data protection for them. I had given up on ever fostering cats when a friend drew my attention to a post on Facebook asking for someone to look after a pair of cats that urgently needed a temporary home. This was because their owner was undergoing a long-term stay in hospital.

Five and a half months later, it was time to return my first fosters to their owner, who had been discharged. We had arranged a date for me to return them, when Belinda asked hesitantly if I could take in another pair whose owner was a victim of domestic abuse. I agreed and – in a miracle of organisation – Lucie, a kind volunteer, drove Oliver and Storm to where the first owner lived. Soon after my first foster cats were reunited with their owner in joyous scenes, Belinda got a text saying that the new fosters had arrived. Lucie handed them over to me in a nearby car park and I drove home with them.

Our Special Friends had arranged for Storm (the black cat) and Oliver (ginger) to be neutered and microchipped by another charity the day before I got them. They were three years old. The neutering and removal to a completely different environment was a considerable shock for them. When I let them out of their carriers, Oliver stayed out, though he was very nervous, and Storm hid immediately behind a big armchair. Storm was to remain behind that armchair for nearly three weeks, coming out for food and water and to use the tray, largely when I wasn’t there. Oliver stayed in a corner of the living room for a few days and then got bolder. I was chatting to my dad on Skype when Oliver first approached me, headbutting me in an affectionate way. My dad said that I looked absolutely delighted. It was even better when Storm started staying out from behind the armchair after so long. He eventually revealed himself to be cuddly lap cat.
Oliver did urinate on working surfaces and in the bathroom after he first arrived, presumably because he was stressed. His urine was very stinky because he was a tomcat that had only recently been neutered. Fortunately, he stopped this after a few days. When they had both settled, they were a pleasure to have around, affectionate and beautiful cats in the prime of life. It’s not just the foster cats who benefit from the fostering arrangements.

Unfortunately, I had to go away at the end of June. Lucie drove over and collected the boys. We really needed her veterinary nurse experience to get them in the carriers. Oliver and Storm were next placed at a local cattery known to Our Special Friends, whose cat accommodation looks palatial in the photographs that I have seen. They spent longer at the cattery than anticipated but have since been very happily reunited with their owner.

I have subsequently taken on a new foster cat, a beautiful long-haired calico, from another case of domestic abuse. Very few charities seem to provide foster-to-reunite homing, which can be very much needed. I am happy to help Our Special Friends offer this service.