This Cat Foster Mom Deserves Our Support!

Lori Irby has a unique personality. At least 60 animals have found their way into Irby’s house, generally three or four kittens at a time. Irby has been fostering for the ASPCA since 2019.

Irby, a caretaker at The Meridian, a senior living facility in Anaheim, California, has to bring her kittens to work with her because many of the kittens in shelters have not yet been weaned. The office manager’s workstation quickly became a hotspot for coworkers once a playpen and six meowing kittens were installed. Irby had an epiphany as a result of it.

According to Daily Paws, “I was receiving a lot of residents who liked to stop over and play with the kittens.” Because of this, I approached our activities director and requested if she could put me on the schedule for kitten therapy one day.”

It was such a huge success that the facility now has regular weekly sessions where up to half of the facility’s 200 inhabitants can come play with the cats and have a great time.

In the words of Irby, “It really enhances their spirits.” “Residents who are unable to care for their own pets frequently come to participate in kitten therapy. Pets are welcome, but some of our seniors have mobility challenges or are unable to clean the litterbox every day, therefore we don’t allow them.” Because of the kittens, pet lovers can still obtain valuable contact with animals, which science has shown can boost mental health and reduce loneliness.

Cats were an important point of interaction at the pandemic peak in 2020, according to Irby, a researcher. Kitten therapy provided a secure opportunity for inmates to interact with animals that needed it during a time when visiting was severely restricted.

Her efforts to foster and socialize animals benefit not just the shelters where she helps, but also the cats that are in desperate need of new homes.

In many parts of the country, the end of October signifies the conclusion of the feline breeding season. Rescue organizations are finding themselves flooded with young cats as the number of kittens born continues to rise. Pet fosters are becoming increasingly important for the health and protection of animals as shelters run out of space.

A shelter is the last place, Tina Reddington Fried, the ASPCA’s Los Angeles Volunteer and Kitten Program director, wants cats to be, tells Daily Paws. “These small kittens need so many things that can’t be met in the shelter environment, from bottle feeding to socialization.”

The ASPCA’s Kitten Foster program in Los Angeles is in desperate need of more foster parents. As long as you have a spare room in your house (and your heart), fostering a kitten can be a gratifying experience. It’s also a great opportunity to pet some adorable kittens, as the residents of The Meridian can confirm.

When it comes to Irby, though, despite having so many lovely kittens in her house, she says she intends to continue fostering and hasn’t yet adopted any of them. She claims she has no intention of stopping after witnessing so many kittens pass through her home and be adopted.

“I appreciate saving lives and helping people socialize,” she says. “I take a great deal of satisfaction in the care I provide my kittens.”

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