Fostering cats purr-fect for mom/daughter duo

When the Lohans first moved into their Hinsdale home, they discovered some unexpected neighbors: feral cats.

"Then two years ago, one of these cats had kittens under our air conditioner," Amy Lohan said. "I called the Hinsdale Humane Society and said, 'What do I do?' "

The lifelong dog lover and cat allergy sufferer was not exactly receptive to the humane society's suggestion that the family foster the two kittens.

"I was like, 'Absolutely not. I have a dog, I don't know what to do with cats,' " she related.

Their daughter Emily, now 7, was keen on the fostering notion, however. So Amy explored it further.

"(Humane society staff) told me what to do to capture the two kittens to bring them in and to try to catch the mom," she said. "We kind of talked through what would fostering even entail."

Those interested in learning more about fostering adoptable cats or dogs can are invited to the humane society's Foster Orientation Fair from noon to 1:30 p.m. this Saturday, April 6, at the shelter (see Page 22 for details).

Amy was told she needed a bathroom in which to keep them, and to feed them and "give 'em some loving."

"It took a while to catch them both. The mama was on to me, and I saw her early in the morning carrying them by their neck to the yard behind us," Amy said. "We did foster those kittens, and we loved it. It was so fun."

The kittens primarily stayed in their basement bathroom quarters to avoid interaction with resident dog Cooper.

"I was surprised how easy it was and how fun it was to play with kittens," she said.

The kittens were ultimately adopted by others. Mama cat, meanwhile, was "TNR-ed" - trap, neuter and release - with the help of the Lohans.

"We've probably done TNR for, minimum, at least 10 cats," she said, noting the process which helps curtail additional neighborhood litters.

"We have not seen any new kittens here in probably about a year and a half," Amy reported.

Their fostering journey continued, with the family hosting as many as five kittens at one time.

"It wasn't a whole lot more work, really. It was more trying to keep five kittens in a bathroom and get out without them all running out," she said.

A trial run at puppy fostering proved more labor intensive, but Emily said they have affection for both animals.

"We love dogs and cats the same," Emily said.

Amy praised shelter staff and foster manager Carla Wudi in particular

for their support.

"They provide everything that you need: a bed, litter box, food, toys, blanket, carrier," Amy said. "It's only usually a short commitment of time because kittens are ready for neutering (after six weeks)."

Emily enjoys discussing the fostering experience with her school classmates, and her friends like playing with their current foster kitten, Cookies and Cream.

Amy laments steering clear of felines for so many years.

"It brings me so much joy," Amy said, acknowledging that she does receive allergy shots. "I can't believe I missed out on having a cat my whole life.

"I would foster more if I had more space," she added.

- story by Ken Knutson, photo by Jim Slonoff

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean