33-year Santa Clara resident, Jean Wilder has a passion for purr. Purring kittens, that is! This spring, Wilder celebrates 11-years as a Kitten Foster Parent for Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV).
“It all began when my beloved cat of 3 1/2 years died and I was heart broken. After a month of crying, I knew had to do something. Having adopted my cats from HSSV, I looked into their kitten foster program,” recalls Wilder. “After my first litter of seven kittens, I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to get more!”
Almost 400 foster kittens later, Wilder is gearing up for the 2012 kitten season.
“In 2011, we had 827 kittens go through our Foster Care Program. This was a 14 percent increase over the prior year,” reports Jeri Seiden, manager of Special Needs. “April 2011 was our heaviest month, with 198 kittens going into foster care. We had over 90 foster families help us last year. We are hoping to recruit 40 new foster homes this year to help us reach our goal of saving 1,000 kittens!”
“In addition to providing a home for these kittens to grow and develop until they are ready for adoption, you are giving them the personal, loving connection that’s going to make them a better pet for an adopter,” Wilder states. “Plus, you get to name them and share their cute little personality traits and quirks with potential adopters.” Wilder admits it is hard to give them up, but comforts herself knowing they are going to good homes.
Taking care of kittens is a rewarding experience that saves lives. Foster parents pick up one or more kittens from HSSV and take them home to care for them, typically until they are 2-pounds and 8-weeks old. Foster kittens are usually 4-6 weeks old, already eating solid food, and able to use a litter box. Each foster parent’s job is to provide care for the kittens in their home for a few weeks. HSSV supplies all food and medical care.
HSSV is the largest shelter in Santa Clara County offering a foster care program. Through years of experience, they’ve trained hundreds of volunteers to care for kittens, puppies and dogs. “The organization has grown and advanced so much over the years,” says Wilder. “They make sure the kittens are a good fit with your home and skills. And they allow you to say ‘no’ if you need to. They are really flexible and support you through the whole process.”
After all the years of dedication to these precious little bundles of fur, Jean Wilder’s passion for purr is spreading. Family, friends and neighbors know visiting her could lead to only one thing — more felines in their homes. “My family and friends are afraid I’m going to hoist another cat off on them.” However, if they rang her doorbell, the fun-loving sign forewarned them: “Ring the bell, win a kitten.”
If you love kittens and would like to learn more about becoming a kitten foster parent, consider attending one of their free “Kitten Foster Orientation” classes. Held multiple times a month, the next class is Wednesday, May 16 from 6-8 PM at Humane Society Silicon Valley, 901 Ames Ave, Milpitas. Visit www.hssv.org or call: 408-262-2133 x186 for more details.