One family’s story.
Tokyo ARK relies solely on foster families to care for their animals. Kota and Yuko Igarashi are currently fostering eight kittens in their home. Tokyo ARK staff recently talked with the Igarashi family about their experiences fostering for ARK.
Kota (with Chou-Chou) and Yuko (with Mumu) their own cats.
What inspired you to start fostering for ARK?
Three years ago, I found four newborn kittens in a box. They had been left outside a shop in the hot August sun. They were hardly moving. I took them home and started bottle-feeding them, but one was already too weak and died. I cared for the other siblings, made posters to try to find them homes, and through my vet, I met Julie Okamoto. Together we found excellent homes for the remaining three kittens. Although the process was very worthwhile, Julie and I discussed the limitations of working individually. Later, I decided to join ARK’s fostering program and Julie kitten-sits for me to help. Fostering just one kitten enables ARK to take in five more, which means we are actually helping to save six lives. My husband and I thought this over and decided it was something we could do.
Mumu at the water bowl.
What do you enjoy the most about fostering?
I love to see the kittens grow into healthy, happy animals. When an animal I have cared for finds a new home, it makes me happy to see the smiles on the faces of the new family. Often people will send me photos of the kittens in their new home and nothing makes me happier.
What is the hardest part about fostering?
When the kittens leave to go to their new home, I do miss them. Some of the kittens are just days old when they come to me and I spend a lot of time caring for them and worrying that they will be OK. It is hard to see those ones go although I am happy they have new homes. Sometimes even my husband gets teary-eyed!
How do your own cats cope with the kittens?
We keep the kittens in a separate room until they are vaccinated. But Polka, our ginger cat, is actually a good older brother to the kittens and plays well with them. I think all our cats enjoy the stimulation. We made the decision to only foster kittens so as not to unduly stress our own cats.
Mumu and Chou-Chou at the scratching post (Igarashi-san’s cats).
What advice would give someone who is thinking about fostering?
Enjoy it! Fostering is fun and rewarding. It is sad to see the kittens go but overall the good outweighs the bad. The ARK staff will take care of medical problems, so just enjoy the kittens and give them lots of love. The role of a foster family is not to mind someone’s future pet, but to help shape the future of a family member.
ARK would like to extend a big thank-you to the Igarashi family for their ongoing support. If anyone is interested in joining the Tokyo ARK fostering programme, please contact email@example.com or call 050-1557-2763.
Yuko and Kota with the ARK kittens.