Busy with bliss
A Day in My Life with Nuggets
It starts first thing, and first thing arrives early at our house.
I wake up at 5 a.m. every day, whether Howard has to get up for his radio show or not. We keep the same schedule on weekends and during vacation. Then it’s coffee and time to brush Leon Bear and Walter, make sure Yoda is groomed, feed the cats and kittens, and play. There’s a lot of playtime in the mornings, which are always filled with endless kitten energy. They love Howard and he loves them. When he settles in to read the newspaper, there’s usually a cat or kitten nearby to “help.”
Breaking News: Little Girl and Howard check the morning headlines.
Once I finish my morning kitten rounds I sit down at my computer to start going through my emails to determine who will be selected to receive a formal application to adopt. I use Instagram (@bethostern) and social media to place my fosters. I read each and every email that is sent to my foster address, and then I explore the ones I think are worthwhile to interview. I forward all of these hand-picked emails to my wonderful adoption partner Cindy Szczudlo, Director of Rescue Services at North Shore Animal League America, who begins the pre-approval process. This is critical to finding the right homes for my nuggets, and we do a thorough job. Applicants who look promising are called. They are given an extensive telephone interview, and then we talk to their vets. They also have to give us three references who know them as families. By the time we’re ready to deliver the cat or kitten, we are sure about their new forever homes, and I personally deliver each animal myself. We have a fantastic success rate with only a few disappointments. Fortunately, those placements come back to me and we begin again.
I always appreciate assistance from kittens like Mason, who keep me laughing no matter what.
Mostly things go well, but the adoption process can be frustrating. Last month a family that had agreed to adopt two of the prettiest Tuxedo kittens ever, Charlie Girl and Marlee Girl, changed their minds at the last minute. Basically they wasted our time, and these two perfectly socialized nine-week old sisters (vaccinated and spayed) were still sitting in the foster room when they should have been home. But just one week after being so disappointed, I delivered these two cuties to the most wonderful home. Once again, fate and Instagram performed a little miracle.
I’m blessed to have a social media presence that allows me to post about the cats, have people follow their journeys from the time they enter my home to the moment I hand them off, and become personally connected to them. I know that my fostering situation is unique, and I’m grateful.
Marlee Girl and Charlie Girl, two of the prettiest kittens ever.
Cats and kittens come to me in various ways. Most often it’s through Animal League America. But sometimes Instagram followers get in touch. And I also hear about situations from Long Island Veterinary Specialists. That’s how I learned about Ferris, a gentle 10-year old Persian who was rescued from a home where he was cruelly neglected. His nails were imbedded in his paw pads and his ears were infected from filth. He also had to have some teeth removed. Worst of all was how matted he was. But thanks to great medical care, he was quickly on the mend — playful, sweet, and now in a wonderful new home.
Ferris (upper left), trapped in his matted fur. It came off in one enormous piece (upper right) that smelled so horrible I was literally gagging. That’s sweet Ferris (below) getting the love he’s always deserved. Neglect is definitely one of the worst forms of abuse.
In case you thought kitten season was over, it isn’t. Just a couple of weeks ago a Calico mother and her babies were found outside, nested in the grass, vulnerable to predators and everything else. They’re all safe in my house now, Mama Summer and six of the cutest, funniest, sweetest kittens. But I know they are the lucky ones. So many aren’t. We have to spay/neuter and adopt to solve this problem and end the suffering it brings.
Six vulnerable kittens…
…with Mama Summer, safe at home.
My days are full. As the national spokesperson for Animal League America for the past 14 years, I often do interviews with all sorts of media — TV, newspapers, magazines, online — and attend special events like last month’s successful fundraiser, the Lewyt Humane Awards Luncheon, which raised money for Bianca’s Furry Friends Feline Adoption Center.
I also spend a lot of time every day handling the cats and kittens, not only because I love it but also because it socializes them and produces fun, compelling Instagram images. Mornings often include a run with Howard, or we walk along the beach, where it seems we can always find enough litter — including plastic straws and balloons! — to fill a large garbage bag. Sometimes we see seals sunning themselves on the rocks, which is magical. It’s awful to think what plastic and balloons can do to marine wildlife.
Howard and I both practice Transcendental Meditation, up to 20 minutes every morning and afternoon. Beautiful Bella frequently joins me.
Each day revolves around my fosters, and it’s been this way for five years. I’ll never forget my first batch of kittens. I think I had them for only four weeks. I cried my eyes out saying goodbye, because it’s a sad and heart-wrenching thing. They filled my heart, and then all of a sudden, they were gone. But I learned what all foster parents learn: This is the mission, you’re here to nurture. And you have to be strong enough to let them go. It’s the next step in every foster’s journey, and that’s my purpose: to find their forever homes.
Right after delivering that first litter to their families, I stopped by Animal League America and grabbed another litter plus a mama cat and her babies who were in another cage. So it freed up two cages for new ones to go into. That was more than five years ago. We’re over 700 cats and kittens now, and we’ve found homes for all of them.
At the end of every day, I thank all the powers in the universe that I’m lucky enough to be able to foster and nurture these precious lives. I adore this work. There is nothing I love more.