The pandemic pet boom which hit its peak during quarantine may have waned, but many animals still need homes. Masonic Village at Elizabethtown resident Carolyn Pike helped prepare three foster kittens – Asher, Kate and Lily – for their permanent homes, caring for them for six weeks.
Carolyn’s foster experience began as a volunteer with the Humane League in Tampa, Florida. After retirement and losing her husband and dog, “I needed a reason to get out of bed in the morning,” she said.
That first litter of kittens launched Carolyn into seven years of kitten-raising.
“It’s not that much different than taking care of a baby,” she said.
Watching the kittens grow and develop individual personalities is her favorite part of the experience; dealing with the myriad of illnesses and health problems that young kittens are vulnerable to or can develop is the most challenging. In pursuit of kitten health, she has dewormed kittens, gave injections and soaked an abscessed paw in Epsom salts – and more! Some losses came with the territory, though. Feline panleukopenia, a highly contagious and deadly form of feline parovirus which attacks and kills cells, is extremely common in Florida due to the climate.
“In Florida, I would lose a litter a year to it,” she said.
Lily, Asher and Kate are Carolyn’s first batch of foster kittens since moving to Masonic Village. It was also her first time caring for more than two kittens at a time. Part of a litter of five, they came from the Humane League of Lancaster to Carolyn at two weeks old. She kept them until they were eight weeks old. Unlike many kitten fosterers, she has never had a “foster fail” – when people decide to give their foster animal(s) a permanent home instead of returning them to the shelter.
“Although I’ll have a little empty nest syndrome, I’ve enjoyed taking care of them,” she said. (Other residents have enjoyed meeting, petting and snuggling them as well!)
When not fostering kittens, Carolyn is enjoying all that life at Masonic Village has to offer, including family time. She and her mother moved in on the same day and have dinner together almost every night. When her mother tested positive for COVID-19, they talked every two hours since they couldn’t physically see each other. They also visit with other family who live in York County, where Carolyn grew up.
“I think I did the wisest thing by coming here. It was time to come home,” she said.