A lifelong lover of cats and a foster failure, Stephanie Scheffler is a part of the community in Lincoln that is making a difference in animal’s lives. Currently, Stephanie is a volunteer with Joining Forces Saving Lives, and fostering two mother cats and eleven foster kittens. This past, she even started a Facebook page to feature the cats and kittens in her care that needed homes.
ALLISON: What inspired you to become a volunteer with cats?
STEPHANIE: I’ve always had cats in my life, and as I have gotten older I have become more and more aware of the over population because people are not spaying or neutering. It is leaving so many cats without homes and it just breaks my heart.
ALLISON: Why did you decide to volunteer with Joining Forces Saving Lives?
STEPHANIE: I tried fostering with another organization and was a “Foster Failure”, I have three cats that I kept from that litter and one that I already had, so I have four cats right now. That organization is great too, but I also like what Mitsi is doing with Joining Forces Saving Lives! She’s getting out into the areas of our community where there are cat colonies and the population of cats is exploding! A lot of these cats are feral and would not be good pets. JFSL traps, spays or neuters them, vaccinates, tags the tip of their ears, and then releases them back where they were. If there are kittens, Mitsi will then place them into foster homes with their momma cat (if possible) and they’ll be cared for until they are healthy and old enough to be spayed/neutered, chipped, vaccinated, and ready for adoption!
ALLISON: Tell me about your volunteer activities with JFSL.
STEPHANIE: Right now I’m just fostering with JFSL, but I hope that I can get more involved in the future. They have a great need for volunteers and donor support.
Since I have 11 foster kittens and two mama cats, I’m responsible for them 24/7 right now. The actual hours that I’m interacting with them is probably 3-4 hours a day on the weekdays and two additional hours on the weekends, so I would say a total of around 40-42 hours a week, but it’s not difficult. Well, unless you have to administer meds, and the cleaning of cat boxes is a constant.
ALLISON: How have you grown as a volunteer?
STEPHANIE: Previously, I just couldn’t let go of the kittens, which is why I now have three of them. I get so attached to each of them that I don’t want to let go, but I came to realize that I’m doing something to save these precious little beings by fostering them and then giving them to another home. When they’re adopted, it opens my home to more kittens to foster. I’m also doing a lot of reading and educating myself on how to be a good volunteer, especially a foster to kittens.
ALLISON: What have you learned about people from being a volunteer?
STEPHANIE: Something that I’ve noticed is that the majority of people DO have good hearts and a love for animals, but they aren’t necessarily educated on why it is good to spay/neuter your animals. Also, people don’t always see that when you bring a pet into your home, you need to make a lifelong commitment to that pet. You don’t get rid of your pet, because it’s inconvenient to you or your surroundings. You work with your pet to make it work.
ALLISON: Why did you decide to foster kittens? How long have you been fostering?
STEPHANIE: I chose to foster kittens, because it is just a natural fit for me. I love cats and who doesn’t love a kitten?
This is the first time that I have fostered for Joining Forces Saving Lives and I got the first litter in August and the second litter at the beginning of September. I previously fostered for another local rescue about five years ago, so I’m just getting back into it.
ALLISON: Share some memorable or touching moments.
STEPHANIE: With my current foster kittens, I had to bottle feed a couple of them and that was something I had not previously done. I found it so fulfilling to watch their little faces as they took in the milk and would “knead” my arm while drinking. It was so precious!
ALLISON: Share some embarrassing or funny moments.
STEPHANIE: Some funnier moments would be trying to weigh wiggly little kittens! I had a heck of a time trying to get that done, until I figured out the “Burrito”. You wrap them up in a kitchen towel and then put them in a bowl on your scale to get their weight. Works like a charm!
ALLISON: What have you learned about kittens from being a volunteer?
STEPHANIE: Kittens really are delicate little beings when they are born and need to be handled with great care. Especially when they come from conditions like mine did, their lives really are at risk. I’ve also learned that they can thrive and become the most energetic and hilarious little things. I could spend my entire day with a room full of kittens!
ALLISON: Why did you decide to start a Facebook page?
STEPHANIE: I decided to start a Facebook page to help get the word out about cats and kittens that are looking for good homes. I didn’t want to bombard all my friends on my own page with kitten posts, and so I created Smitten for Kittens. I invited all my FB friends to like it in hopes that they will help share the page so these sweet babies can get forever homes!
ALLISON: Give a tip to future cat owners and/or volunteers.
STEPHANIE: Spay and neuter your cats, but DON’T declaw!
I have always wanted to volunteer to help with cats, but something always got in the way and I didn’t do it. Since my son is now an adult, I really have a lot more time, so I decided I needed to either just do it or stop talking about it! Sometimes you just need to go for it!