Thinking about fostering during kitten season? Advice from an expert foster cat mom: ‘Do it!’

Kitten Foster

Dedicated Pasadena Humane volunteer Samantha Heer has fostered more than 100 hundred kittens since 2014, including Sokka (pictured here with Samantha). The animal shelter is in desperate need of kitten foster volunteers right now. Learn more about their foster program at (Photo courtesy of Samantha Heer)

A few months ago, I wrote about the impending arrival of kitten season. We had started to see the first trickle of bottle babies flowing into the shelter. Kittens like Parsley, Mint and Sage — all three now adopted — who were just days old when they came to Pasadena Humane, needing bottle feeding and round-the-clock care for their survival.

With summer fast approaching, I can now say kitten season is in full swing. Baby felines who need temporary foster homes arrive at our doors daily, while adoptable-age kittens fill our kennels as they wait for new homes. Obvious cute factor aside, kitten season puts an enormous strain on shelter resources and staff.

We depend on our wonderful and dedicated foster volunteers to keep us afloat. These amazing folks open their homes to orphaned and abandoned kittens, as well as nursing momma cats with their babies.

You’d be hard pressed to find a more dedicated foster volunteer than Samantha Heer. Samantha — along with her husband Eric who is a member of the Pasadena Humane Board of Directors — has fostered more than 120 kittens, a handful of momma cats, and nearly a dozen bunnies.

A true love for helping animals in need has kept Samantha fostering since 2014. One of the experiences she remembers most fondly is a momma cat named Catelyn and her seven kittens.

Kittens born in shelter are seen at Animal Friends of the Valleys in Lake Elsinore. (Photo courtesy of Inland Empire Community Foundation)

Catelyn was a young mom who seemed overwhelmed with her new litter. When Samantha brought them home, the kittens were just a day old, and momma cat Catelyn struggled to feed and care for them. Samantha began supplementing feedings and cleaning up the babies to help ease Catelyn into the swing of things.

Within a few days, Catelyn had calmed, and her maternal instincts kicked in. All her kittens survived and were adopted, including one to Samantha’s son. “If she had been on her own, I don’t think the kittens would have had a successful outcome,” shared Samantha. “But, with a little assistance, they all thrived.”

In all their years of fostering, Samantha and Eric have only adopted one of their foster kittens, a very special gal named Jazzy. Like some other kittens they had fostered, the Heers started caring for Jazzy and her litter mates when they were just a day or two old.

All kittens are a little wobbly when they start walking, but these kittens appeared more wobbly than normal. The Pasadena Humane medical team diagnosed the bunch with Cerebellar Hypoplasia, a neurological condition that causes trouble with balance and coordination.

All of Jazzy’s siblings were quickly adopted once they were old enough. But Jazzy, arguably the smallest and wobbliest of her litter, kept getting overlooked. Samantha integrated Jazzy with her own dog and cat while trying to find an adopter. In the end, she just could not let her go.

“We couldn’t be happier,” added Samantha. “She has brought us so much laughter with her wobbliness over the last six years. She is hysterical.”

When asked what she would say to someone considering fostering for the first time, Samantha’s reply was straight to the point, “Do it!”


Kittens born in shelter are seen at Animal Friends of the Valleys in Lake Elsinore. (Photo courtesy of Inland Empire Community Foundation)

Pasadena Humane desperately needs more foster volunteers right now. Every day, litters of young kittens arrive at our door. While some need bottle feeding, many are eating solid food on their own and just need a short stay in a foster home before they are ready for adoption.

In addition to getting a huge dose of cuteness when you foster, you will truly help save the lives of fragile animals who need it most. We provide our foster volunteers with all the training, supplies and medical support needed to raise healthy kittens.

Learn more about the Pasadena Humane foster program at

Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.

This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on June 16, 2022.