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Sunday, February 25, 2024

The many benefits of fostering animals

Having a kitten can improve your life — who knew!


By JENA TUFAIL — jjtufail@ucdavis.edu


In college, it can be hard to find fun experiences outside of school when most of your time is filled with attending classes and studying. Last summer especially, I felt it difficult to find things I enjoyed while taking summer classes. 

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I found a random box of kittens sitting in my backyard three weeks into the summer quarter. My family and I were used to the many cats roaming around our neighborhood but had never seen kittens left alone for so long. That day was the beginning of my family’s experience fostering kittens over the last year. 

At first, it was difficult getting used to the whirlwind of fostering animals. While most people foster only a few animals at a time, our total kept increasing, from five to 10 to 15 to 20 kittens over the span of a few months. But the one thing never changed was the feeling of fulfillment that came along with helping these kittens adapt to their new world and find their forever homes. 

Getting to know each kitten individually, helping them become adjusted to life indoors and supplying them with the love and care they needed ultimately helped relieve a lot of the stress in my life, and the compassion and fulfillment that I felt always made it worth it. 

If you ever have the opportunity to foster an animal, I highly recommend it. Even as a college student, I think it is a great opportunity to make a difference. Not only are you having a huge positive influence on the foster’s life, but they can help you too. Since fostering animals, I feel as though my stress levels have gone down, and I feel grateful to be able to be a part of their lives, even if it is only for a short amount of time until they get adopted.

I also think fostering animals is a great way to “test-run” what it would be like to have a pet if you have not had one before. It gives you the ability to completely understand the responsibility of caring for an animal, gain the experience that comes along with it and also potentially adopt a pet that needs a home in the future.

Not everyone has the ability to adopt a pet long-term, so helping a shelter animal adjust to living with others until they find their forever home is a great alternative. Fostering allows you to feel both fulfilled and excited that you’re helping these pets by fostering an environment of love and happiness for them.

Although fostering has many benefits, there can be some downsides, including getting too attached. I’ve experienced firsthand how difficult it is to know that you cannot keep your foster forever. However, the happiness that you feel when seeing your foster animal thrive is worth all the sadness of having to give them away. 

I recognize that fostering is also not always a walk in the park, but if you feel passionate about wanting to help animals, I think it is a great opportunity and experience. And who knows? You might just find a new best friend.


Written by: Jena Tufail — jjtufail@ucdavis.edu

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.