Foster Team Story: Meet Joyce, Samantha & Maxine

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Most people think that “fostering a pet” means you need to have them in your home. But did you know that there are many behind the scene foster heroes who aren’t necessarily fostering the pet in their home, but supporting the life of the pet in other ways? Here’s the story of how Joyce was able to come to the rescue of her friend and her two cats Sam (Samantha) & Max (Maxine) until they found their forever home.

Why did the cats need care and what motivated you to decide to help out?

I learned my friend had been in the hospital for two weeks; that the cancer she has beaten several times had returned. She reached out to me to see if I would foster her two cats. As we talked, she bravely realized that what she needed was to rehome her cats. She wouldn’t be able to return to her condo and independent living. I could recommend a wonderful cat shelter, but they would not be able to take these two 8-year-old sisters for at least a month.

What was your experience as a foster parent? 

“We think it’s time for some cuddles, yes?”

Our family has fostered pets in the past, but my daughter’s allergies had recently spiked and we agreed as a family to not increase our household of animals. What I could do, however, was to visit the cats at my friend’s place and advocate on their behalf. I traded off with her son in caring for the cats, visiting as often as possible, keeping their litter clean and automatic feeder supplied. I’d bring my book or laptop and sit with them curled up beside me for a couple of hours. The hard part was knowing how much time they were spending alone with this arrangement, but it was much better than the first few weeks she was away. I kept my friend updated with photos and videos.

Sweet and curious Max

To prepare the cats for adoption, I brought Max and Sam to the shelter, and with my friend’s help, wrote their profiles on Petfinder (an online pet adoption site), and a letter to their future adopter, hoping they might share an update on Max and Sam in their new home.

The shelter staff gave me updates daily as these sweet cats developed a fan club at the shelter. Just 10 days later I got this wonderful email. “Hello Joyce, I am a registered nurse and I run Heritage House Adult Care. We are an adult foster home In SW Portland. I am planning to adopt Samantha and Maxine 🙂 I am very sad to hear that your friend’s cancer has returned. I actually have a vacancy at my care home If she is still looking for a new place to live. Let me know if I can be of any assistance. I will be happy to let her know how the kitties are doing. They will be very loved and doted on by our elderly residents here. I’m very excited they will get such a perfect fit in my mind. Thank you for your correspondence!”

Enjoying cuddles with the senior resident in their new home

Subsequent emails and photos described the ‘girls’ winning over residents of this care home. And who knows, maybe my friend will end up there as well! If only the animals that change homes could have a network of the people who share a love for them. Surely those are the people I’d like to know!

Video of the cats with the seniors

Both Sam & Max love all the attention from the seniors

Who in your family or community supports your foster volunteering and how?

For my friend, caring for these cats was a team effort. Her son and I split care duties. An out of town friend who wanted to help purchased food and litter and shipped it. And of course, the Cat Adoption Team bridged us to the registered nurse who will look after these cats going forward.

What advice would you give to first-time foster pet parents? 

Would you even call what I did fostering? Maybe not, but it was a key piece of the puzzle to help these pets and a friend in a time of need. And it can show that fostering can take many forms.

Ready to help a foster pet? You can search for pets in need on our site, just visit

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