Popcorn, Kernel, and Corn the tabby kittens
Kitten fostering brings joy and fulfillment to one New York woman.
By: on May 13, 2015

Exhausted from fending for herself and her three kittens, Candy was rescued off the streets by Animal Care Centers of New York City. But it was just the first step in saving the lives of Candy and her little family.

Every summer, shelters around the country are overwhelmed by a tremendous influx of kittens. Shelters don’t have enough space, time, staffing and funds to care for them, which means that each year thousands of kittens are at risk of being killed. In order to survive, kittens must have constant care for weeks until they’re old enough to be adopted. That’s where foster homes save the day — time and time again.

Each summer, foster homes become the difference between life and death for countless tiny kittens — and sometimes their moms, too. The beautiful brown tabby cat with emerald eyes needed somewhere for them to go, and so Best Friends–New York took them in and got busy finding the perfect foster home.

Foster find

It wasn’t long before one woman would greet the mother, Candy, and her kittens (Popcorn, Corn and Kernel) with open arms to ensure they got all the TLC they would need.

When Sarah Varki moved from San Francisco to New York City a few years ago, it was a hectic time. But she soon found her niche — fostering kittens. “I still wanted to help animals in need because I could no longer go in person like I used to in the Bay Area. And I thought fostering would be another way to make a difference,” says Sarah. “Having grown up with pets, I know it takes a lot to be a good parent and I didn't want to adopt a pet if I wasn’t sure about being able to make a long-term commitment, based on my current work schedule.”

At the beginning of March, Sarah got an offer she couldn’t refuse. Candy and her kittens needed a foster home. She was thrilled to be able to help the young family stay safe and become more sociable.  

Smitten with kittens

Sarah loves every aspect of kitten fostering — especially watching their development. “It’s amazing to see how fast they grow. They are super adorable and it's also great to be able to give their mama a break when I'm around so she can be kitten-free for a few hours,” says Sarah.

Keeping the gang out of harm’s way meant gradually introducing them to larger areas. The kittens went from the safety of a large crate, to the confines of the bathroom, to being free to explore the whole apartment. While Sarah was prepared for their antics, these kittens are extra plucky. “I learned from previous experiences to kitten proof the space behind my oven and various other areas that they can get stuck in. It was amazing how high they can climb at such an early age,” says Sarah.

Sarah tried not to have a favorite, but independent and outgoing Kernel kept her in stitches. Thinking about watching her lead the charge out of the bathroom, while Popcorn and Corn roll around together oblivious to the new territories for exploration, still makes Sarah laugh. “Kernel was also the first of the kittens to start eating dry food. She’s a real problem solver,” says Sarah.

While caring for the kittens may have felt like fun for Sarah, fostering is a serious business and having enough foster families is critical to saving more lives. And though it’s bittersweet to have to say “goodbye” as foster animals eventually go to their own forever families, Sarah couldn’t be happier to have spent time with them in their most vulnerable stages of life.

Get involved

Get in on the fun by fostering for Best Friends.

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Photos by Shannon Kirkman and Sarah Varki