Interview: Mina & Elsie

“Not every animal is going to make it, but you can make it better for every animal.”

I’m back with another interview! Because of all the ideas Mama and I have, our interviews will now be twice a month, instead of four times. That won’t make them any less fun though!!

Today, we are talking to my friends Mina and Elsie. Their Mama wants to teach my friends about what it means to foster animals, and in her specific case, CATS! Everyone needs a home, and she’s going to let us in on how fostering can help homeless animals.

Mina and Elsie have a big family with all their foster sisters and brothers, so let’s find out all about it!

(“Take it away Mama!”)

Let’s start simple: How old are Mina and Elsie & How did they come to be a part of the family?

Elsie has just turned one and Mina is about 6 months old. Elsie came to us through a local shelter which we sought out, following a decision to add a kitty to our family. We went in with an open mind but upon seeing Elsie we were totally smitten. She was an underweight baby when we met her, but her persistent personality was obvious even then. She was so playful at the initial meeting, that T went home, got a carrier, and took her home that day. Elsie has been instrumental in helping me struggle through a sleep disorder and she has been since the first night we brought her home. It is very hard to be awake so often while others sleep, but Elsie has always been there to keep me company ad lift my spirits.

After Elsie had grown some, we decided she needed a friend. We began a preliminary search and found out about a batch of kittens who had been found in a local barn. One of the kittens, Mina, had been found a few days after her siblings and mother, and had suffered some damage as a result of being on her own for some time. She was the strongest of the bunch though and was found with a pile of cicada shells: an indication she had at least done some hunting on her own. We knew this strong kitten would be the perfect match for our Elsie, and they've been inseparable ever since.

What are their personalities like?

Elsie is a very dignified cat. She keeps her fur meticulously cleaned and makes sure all the foster kittens and Mina stay up to her standards as well. Although she is regal, she isn't afraid to get down and wrestle with Mina or her foster siblings. Elsie is also intone with her humans, she always greets us when we come home and is always there to wake us up in the morning.

Mina is little wilder than her siblings. She's always looking for trouble, batting her siblings and tipping over every water glass she finds, but she also enjoys snuggling up with her parents on the couch. Mina also acts a lot like a puppy at times; as she is working to perfect her fetch skills and enjoys digging up humoms flowers more than anything. She also sort of “wags” her tail when she gets excited or is trying to provoke her siblings. Mina is also an expert wrestler,
and although she is often the smallest in the house she almost always starts the fight and never backs down.

I see that Elsie’s nicknames are, “Little Cat & Spooks,” are their stories behind those? And does Mina have any nicknames?

Elsie has gained so many nicknames mostly due to her multifaceted personality. When she's being night time crazy, or just crazy in general, we call her Spooks because she fluffs her tail up and enjoys jumping out at people from around corners or out from under the bed. She has also retained her kitten hood nickname of Little Cat because she was so small but such a well behaved little cat. She never acted like a silly kitten but was mostly a dignified little cat. We also struggled to find a name that suited her in the beginning, and actually landed on Elsie because it sounds a lot like the initials LC which stands for Little Cat.

Mina has a few nicknames as well but responds very consistently to Mina so we usually stick to calling her that. When she was younger we used to call her Stinky Kitten because she had a habit of playing in the litter box, however that habit has fortunately not persisted, haha.

How do Mina and Elsie get along with the foster kitties?

Mina and Elsie have been so welcoming of the foster kittens so far. While it often takes them some adjustment time, they always warm up to sharing the house. They are pretty cordial with all ages, but especially love kittens. Elsie focuses on keeping each brood clean while Mina is more focused on wrestling with each new feline partner.

Does the in/out and back and forth of different kitties in the house seem to affect them in anyway way, negative or positive?

I would say that they do have some difficulty with the changing environment. If either ever increased in anxiety behavior we would need to discontinue the foster program for at least a period of recovery. While we are so committed to the fostering program, we must always remember that taking care of our own fur babies comes first, as we cannot look for good homes for other cats if we aren't proving our own cats with that.

How did you and your partner get started in fostering cats?

John has always helped and supported me through this process. At first I was the main foster parent, but he has totally fallen in love with the process and is now as involved as I am.

We got started when John found a colony of cats in a neighborhood near his parents’ home. He took me just to investigate, and while most cats we found were quite healthy, one kitten was laying in the dirt, unable to pick her head up and very obviously sick. This broke my heart and, after talking to the people who looked after the colony, I took over her care. After struggling for three weeks, the little kitten unfortunately passed away in the care of our animal hospital. This was very hard for me, however it taught me a big lesson of fostering: not every animal is going to make it, but you can make it better for every animal. Since then I have been dedicated to providing a better future for any foster I have had the privilege of homing.

Are there special qualifications to being an animal foster parent?

One of the biggest is being able to provide a suitable environment for the fosters. Whether dogs, cats, or any other animal, their safety and comfort is paramount. It's important to make sure that fostering is also appropriate for your living situation, such as checking with a landlord.

Is there a typical amount of time a foster will stay with you?

Foster kittens always stay with us until they are at least 2 months old. Because we also deal with many behaviorally interesting cats, feral cats for example, we also have to wait until we feel they are appropriately socialized. A final requirement we have is that they are healthy and spayed/neutered. We want to make sure we are setting themselves up for their best life.

Is it more difficult to find a home for a feral cat, compared to a kitten?

It is definitely more difficult to find homes for less social cats and kittens. While some are willing to take on a kitty who needs little extra love, may will opt for the more imminently energetic kittens.

How many cats are you currently fostering (also: names, sexes, ages)? And do you give them names, or do they already have names by the time they’ve come to your house?

Right now we are fostering Louie, who is 2 years old, and Merlin, whose age is currently unknown. We typically name our cats as they are most often feral cats before coming to us.



How long have you been fostering feral cats?

We have been fostering for 4 years now.

An individual is considering being an animal foster parent: What is your biggest piece of advice? (Something you wish you’d been told)

I would say to be prepared and focus on the positives. While it’s nearly impossible to predict everything that will happen, there are key steps that can be taken to get yourself, your home, and your other animals ready to foster. The biggest part of fostering is to enjoy the time you have with your temporary fur babies. Not only do the animals benefit from socialization, but it is so rewarding for the foster parent as well. Focusing on these good times also make the more difficult times, like adoption day, a little bit easier to handle.

Have you ever considered fostering any animal, besides cats?

We have considered fostering dogs in the future. Currently our living situation does not allow for this but we would love to in the future.

Have you ever had a failed foster? (As in, one you fell in love with, and couldn’t give up?)

I’m actually worried that both Louie and Merlin right now may end up foster failures. They both get along very well with our resident girls and I just love having their presence in the house. We currently have someone looking at adopting them together, and if that comes together I will force myself to let them go to that home as it would be a perfect match, but it will not be easy. Every foster is hard to let go, but these two have completely bloomed in our foster care, I’m so in love with their personalities.

And in that same vein, how do you deal with knowing their time with you is limited?

It is very difficult to be completely honest. While I have no trouble diving into the care of the kittens, when adoption day finally comes I’m always reduced to tears. I think in order to be a great foster parent, you have to miss them when they are gone. The best way I've found to deal with this is to throw myself into a new foster project. It always stings when they go, as I do not hear back from every forever family (about the babies progress and how they settle into their new home), but I know our vetting process is extensive and they go to healthy, happy homes.

What’s the largest amount of fosters you’ve housed at a time? And is there a limit as to how many you can house at one time?

Our largest foster case was 6 at a time last summer when we took in Louie and all of her kittens. It was mayhem, but I totally loved it. There is nothing like a pack of kittens to make a house feel like a home.

How has your life changed since you’ve fostered?

My life has been a lot more rewarding since I began fostering. I have not always had the job of my dreams but fostering gives me a hobby that I get some real joy from. No matter how bad your day was, coming home to kittens never fails to put a smile on my face. I would also say the process has brought my partner and I closer. There is nothing more attractive than a man with a kitten!

How might a potential foster parent know if the process is for them or not?

Positives of fostering:
Fostering is honestly one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I like who I am as a result of my work with animals and it has made my house a home. There is nothing like a pack of kittens and cats to improve a bad mood. It is also really amazing to watch antisocial cats bloom into well-adjusted house cats. The kitties we usually get are feral, so they come into the house as hissing, nervous little messes. It takes a lot of time and patience, but the first time they come and sit beside you, by choice, it makes it completely worth it.

Negatives of fostering:

There is a certain degree of emotional stress involved in fostering. While I absolutely think the positives outweigh this, it is definitely a consideration. Watching a kitten grow up or an adult cat become affectionate always leads me to fall in love with the animal. This type of attachment can be extremely painful when they inevitably get adopted. Not all adoptive parents send updates, so I find myself worrying often about how they are doing, what their lives are like, if they are healthy and happy. In time like this I remind myself that our adoption application is made to find happy, healthy homes.

There is also the risk of losing fosters to illness. This can be one of the most discouraging, painful parts of fostering. Everyone handles these tremendous losses differently but it’s important to keep going to help as many kitties as possible.

Do families come to your residence to meet potential new family members, or do you meet at the shelter that provides the fosters?

We have done both in the past to accommodate potential families. Some come through the shelters placement process while others contact us more directly.

So: it’s safe to say there are several cats in your household at any given time. As a general consensus, what’s the favorite treat and playtime activity?

No matter the cat, they can always be won over with the traditional can of tuna. They love the smell and never get over the taste. I also like that it is held to human standards of eating so it’s consistently safe. Our kittens also love milk supplements that we use to help the mama cats out, as they also usually come to us malnourished and their health is just as important as their babies!

As far as activities go, the simple toys usually turn out to be the best. Paper bags, long rolls of parchment paper, and simple ball-type toys they can bat around and chase usually stand the test of time and keep our kitties coming back for more. Even Elsie, who is averse to the undignified play of kittens as she is a stately queen, can’t resist an empty box or a tipped over paper grocery bag. For more active cats, like Louie, we like to use the feather dangling style toys to get her hunting instincts involved and encourage her to jump and run.

Have you ever housed a special needs foster? And if so, what was wrong with him/her? What kind of attention/care did they require?

Our first foster, June, was the most intensive special needs case we took over. She was born with an underdeveloped heart valve which would fill her lung cavity with blood over time. She had difficulty breathing and was regularly lethargic. We planned to send her into sugary to correct the problem, but unfortunately she passed away from the anesthesia before the surgery could begin.

Has there ever been a foster that wasn’t a fit in your household? And is that common or uncommon, does it just take adjustment on the animal’s part?

I have had some behavioral problems surface within our feline pack, however I’ve always been able to help them work through it. For example, Louie did not get along well with Mina.

Can you provide websites, or forums, or any further information for someone that may have fostering questions?

It’s very different for each area but I recommend searching to find your local rescues and getting in contact with hem. If you aren't ready to foster, consider volunteering or becoming part of a TNR group. Even collecting old towel and blankets can be helpful.

Bodie: My Mama and Daddy have talked about fostering animals in the future, when we aren’t in an apartment anymore. They think it’d be a great experience for all of us, and they agree that a happy home ALWAYS had animals in it.

I’m so glad there are people like you out there that are willing to take in our feral friends and turn their lives around.

Any more questions for Mina, Elsie & friends? Well you’re in luck, they can be found on Instagram:

So, follow them and check out their journey!
(Let me know you followed and you'll get a shoutout in my Insta Stories!)

Interested in your own Interview? Shoot a DM my way ( bodie.goodboy ) and we'll set it up!

Until Next Time,
Bodie & Mama


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