By Janet McAfee

Kittens are adorable, playful, and so much fun to fall in love with!  However, it is kitten season again and sadly there are not enough homes for the very high number of them being born this year.  The cat crisis is exacerbated by the thousands of homeless cats that roam Coachella Valley fields and backyards, producing litters that will soon multiply and produce more unwanted kittens.  During the pandemic spaying and neutering was not considered an essential service, and more animals reproduced during that time.  The nation-wide veterinarian shortage has contributed to domestic pet overpopulation.

These precious creatures are in serious jeopardy when they arrive at California’s overcrowded public animal shelters.  The motherless kittens too young to eat solid food require round the clock bottle feeding.  Public shelters do not have the overnight staff to keep these little animals alive.  Unless a bottle-feeding foster can be located quickly, sadly the only option may be euthanasia.  This is a heartbreaking situation for the animals and the shelter staff.  They desperately seek foster homes, and some shelter workers have been known to take animals home with them overnight.  According to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary 70% of the animals euthanized in America’s public shelters in 2020 are cats and kittens.

Pictured here is animal hero Roz Landsman holding Foxie and Fiona, two precious kittens rescued from a dumpster by a good Samaritan who brought them to Loving All Animals.  It was a miracle they were still alive.  Knowing the urgency facing the survival of the young neonatals, Roz rushed to Loving All Animals to retrieve the tiny siblings.  Foxie and Fiona thrived from her expert and loving care and eventually went to forever homes.  Sadly, Roz Landsman suddenly passed away during April, leaving a void of fostering options for the most vulnerable creatures.

On a mission of love, Roz fostered 38 litters of cats and kittens during the past 25 years.  In 1997, she was the Volunteer Coordinator at Animal Samaritans.  One day she observed a woman enter the facility with two tiny motherless kittens she found in the bushes.  She overheard the receptionist tell the woman they were too young for the organization to accept.  Without thinking, Roz blurted out, “I will take them!”

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Fortunately, a veterinarian was on duty at Animal Samaritans that day in 1997, and he provided Roz with a list of bottle-feeding supplies to purchase at Petco.  The vet instructed her about how to bottle feed very young kittens.  The tiny creatures, estimated to be only one day old, still had their umbilical cords attached.  Roz happily undertook the round the clock feedings required for kittens this young.  Roz recalls, “My adult cat Sadie eventually helped care for the kittens, keeping them clean and warm, and helping potty train them.  The kittens thrived, and I ended up adopting them both.”

Roz explains, “Fostering is my joy!  My children are now grown, but I still get to be a mom.  When my husband, Arnie, was alive we were known as the ‘kitten bottle feeding couple’.  We all look for a purpose in our lives, and I’ve found mine with fostering.  I will never stop fostering these precious kittens and cats!”

Mary Ewing with Loving All Animals reports, “If we had a few more dedicated people like Roz to help, it would make a difference to so many cats and kittens.  Many of the kitten groups that need foster homes are 5 weeks and older so they don’t need the frequent bottle feeding.  Can you help?  Working together, one day we can save them all!”.  Animal fostering is the key to expanding the walls of the shelters.

In Roz’ memory, will you help?  The animal rescues and shelters listed here would welcome your joining their life saving team!  They provide supplies, vet work, and feeding instructions. You can also offer to foster older cats, dogs, or puppies.

COACHELLA VALLEY ANIMAL CAMPUS, THOUSAND PALMS – Foster supervisor at (951) 358-7376, www.rcdas.org.  They will send you emails of animals in need.

LOVING ALL ANIMALS, COACHELLA – Call (760) 834-7000, www.lovinngallanimals.org.

PALM SPRINGS ANIMAL SHELTER – Call (760) 416-5718, ext 114.

ANIMAL SAMARITANS, THOUSAND PALMS – Call (760) 343-3477.

KITTYLAND, DESERT HOT SPRINGS – Call (760) 251-2700.

Janetmcafee8@gmail.com