Interview with Valerie Shoske, By Jim Walsh Bloomington Center
Like the other CIP centers this summer, CIP Bloomington was home to several temporary new arrivals. However, not all the arrivals were new students.
This summer, CIP Bloomington fostered seven kittens. They mostly stayed with Mendy Kossmann, Bloomington’s Academic Coordinator, but every day she brought four of them to spend time with the students. In the following I answer some questions from Advisor Jim Walsh about the kittens and the fostering experience.
Why did you think that fostering kittens was important for CIP?
Firstly, it was important for the kittens. Young cats need social interaction with humans at an early age to make them better pets. They had far more social interaction here at CIP than they would have in their cage in the shelter. The fostering was important for CIP because many of the students are hoping to become pet owners one day, and here they were able to learn some of the responsibilities they would have to accept if they wanted to adopt a cat.
What effect did it have on the students?
The effect on the students was mostly positive. We did our best to separate the kittens from the students who were allergic, but several of them still went in to visit the kittens. As a result, there were some runny noses and itchy eyes. However, I noticed the students seemed happier with the kittens around, especially since quite a few students (myself included) were going into “pet withdrawal” from being away from pets at home.
Are there any interesting histories to any of the cats, e.g. where they were found?
We fostered the cats from the White River Humane Society in Bedford, IN. Their stories were fairly typical for shelter cats. Five of them were found together with their mother, while the other two were found alone. I’m not sure where the rest were found, but one of the two was found on the street by a passing motorist.
Did any of the kittens find homes?
Two CIP staff are planning to adopt kittens. One of our social mentors is adopting a kitten to live with three other cats in a nearby recording studio. A member of our residential staff is planning to adopt a kitten to live with two other cats at her house.
Do you think we should foster kittens again?
Absolutely! For one thing, there will be more kittens who need foster care. Also, there was an almost universal positive effect on the students, especially those who are planning to be pet owners or who have pets at home.
[Jim] I certainly agree on the widespread positive effect! I witnessed several students on the brink of a “crisis day” completely reverse their stress and anxiety from only a few moments of playing with and caring for the kittens.