It’s fair to say that 2020 has been extremely difficult for people, pets, and the planet, with COVID-19 causing unprecedented loss and heartache the world over. In among the darkness, however, are stories of joy that offer hope for a brighter future.
Guest blogger Harvie Schreiber submitted the winning shot of adorable kitten Clawdia Jean for this year’s inaugural Flaunt Your Feline contest, a collaboration between Greater Good Charities, Royal Canin and other partners. The grand prize winner received a $5,000 animal welfare cash grant for the shelter or organization of their choice, a year’s supply of Royal Canin cat food, a personal online consultation with Hannah Shaw, a signed copy of Total Cat Mojo by Jackson Galaxy and a signed copy of Tiny But Mighty by Hannah Shaw.
Below, Harvie discusses how fostering kittens helps her navigate these extremely trying times.
“My husband Ron and I have been involved in animal rescue for more than a dozen years, starting in 2007 when Ron, a pilot in the California Air National Guard, began deploying to Iraq. That was when I first turned to fostering dogs and cats for various local rescues as a way of keeping busy and helping to pass the time.
“After fostering more than 50 dogs, I realized that I was just not a dog person, and switched to kittens. I stopped counting a number of years ago when I hit 150, and I now live in blissful ignorance of how many furry friends I’ve fostered in total!
“I practiced law as a litigation attorney for 15 years, then gave it up in favor of volunteering full time for The Cat House on the Kings, a care cat sanctuary and adoption center. I act as its adoption and fundraising coordinator, and run its very active Facebook page and three ancillary Facebook groups. I also write a monthly column about The Cat House for Kings River Life Magazine, and serve on its board of directors… All while fostering kittens, of course!
“Clawdia Jean (CJ for short) was part of what I called my West Wing litter: Jed, Josh, Donna, and Clawdia Jean were all named for characters from the TV show. From the beginning, CJ was the boldest, bravest and hissiest of the group, but it was her playful antics and impressive athleticism—including her ability to leap up and catch a fly!—that really made her stand out from her siblings.
“I always name my foster kittens in themes, and I’ve rarely used the same name more than once, with the possible exception of Cheddar, as I’ve had a number of ‘cheese’ litters!
“I actually hate the term ‘foster failure’ because I don’t consider it a failure when a foster parent falls in love with a foster animal and chooses to adopt him or her. Three of my cats were previously fosters: Bear is a two-year old all black ‘mini panther,’ and McIntosh and Megan, almost 14 years old, were part of the ‘apple’ litter. (Megan’s former name was Fuji.)
“I was already very familiar with Greater Good Charities and had learned of the Flaunt Your Feline contest on the FelineFoster.org website. I love the resources for fosters and shelters on the site, and I’ve shared videos and articles from it on social media to help others who are fostering kittens.
“When I saw the contest, I knew I should enter because I’d recently captured such an adorable photograph of Clawdia Jean standing up and playing. I was so excited when she was chosen as a finalist! And like so many struggling 501(c)(3) nonprofit cat rescues, The Cat House on the Kings really needed that $5,000 grant to help spay and neuter more cats and kittens in our area.
“Not only has caring for cats helped me through many military deployments and more recently during the COVID-19 quarantines, but I lost my only sister and brother-in-law in the same week in early September after a two-week battle with COVID. It was just devastating. However, after the initial shock wore off, my attention immediately went to getting their 11 cats to safety.
“In just a few days, I was able to arrange for The Cat House on the Kings volunteers to travel from California to Nevada and back with my sister’s cats. Nine of the cats are now safe at The Cat House on the Kings, and Ron and I have chosen to add to our kitty crew with the addition of two four-year-old flame point ragdolls named Miso and Mochi. I’m calling them my ‘toasted marshmallows’ and giving them as many cuddles and treats as they want.
“Just having them around and knowing that the cats are all safe is really helping me process my grief over losing my family — just like fostering kittens has helped me in the past when I needed a focus and some comfort.
“That’s really one of the many wonderful things about cat rescue and cat fostering: we get to share our lives and our love with kitties in need.”
Harvie Schreiber is a volunteer with The Cat House on the Kings in Parlier, California. She lives with her husband Ron and foster cats and kittens in Central California.