This past Tuesday I was honored to be invited to participate in Purina’s first ever Better With Pets Summit in New York City. It was a TED Talk type event featuring 16 speakers addressing various aspects of how pets and people are better together.
It was an amazing day full of speakers ranging from the touching – Judy Finnegan of Puppies for Parole – to the entertaining – Simon Tofield of Simon’s Cats and (super cute) Alexis Ohanian founder of Reddit (who obviously spoke about the power of cats on the interwebs!).
But I’d be remiss if this blog didn’t first write about the very sexy cat woman of the day, Beth Stern, who spoke about the joys of fostering shelter kittens (47 and counting!), a topic I’ve written about myself (10 Reasons to Become a Foster Parent).
And, as my headline gives away, announced on stage for the first time, that she and Howard had decided to adopt the blind foster mama they’d been caring for, bringing the Stern family feline count to 5!
Before we get to Bella and Beth’s other cats and fosters, let me begin by getting a few (rather petty) things out of the way:
- I will never ever get my photo taken standing next to Beth Stern who is literally a real life Barbi doll
- The woman knows how to give a talk, sharing the stage with three adorable kittens, given both the men and the women in the audience something to pay attention to (and drool over!)
- While I’d never thought of much of her before as anything besides Howard’s arm candy – to be fair I hadn’t thought much of Howard before – hearing about how she’s opened their home to so many homeless animals, and how Howard has gotten so into it, naming and photographing them, gave me a new respect for them both (and for some reason I was particularly excited to learn that she’s a mature 41, and not some young bimbo – I know, I know, shame on me!)
It was actually Howard who named the blind calico cat, abandoned while pregnant, Bella (which means “beautiful” in Italian). Bella apparently loves crawling up into Howard’s curly hair for a snooze – she obviously knew who she needed to cozy up to!
Beth told the story of sitting down for dinner with Howard one day when he asked where all the applications were for Bella (a rather strange thing since all the animals they foster get tons of applications thanks to Howard’s plugs on the radio). Beth looked at him rather sheepishly and apparently at that point Howard opened a bottle of wine and they both toasted to “Bella Stern.”
As you can see from the photo below, Bella has made herself quite at home.
In addition to Bella, the Sterns have 4 other cat. Walter, Charlie Chunk, Leon Bear and Apple.
And let’s not forget about the fosters. 47 to date and counting! Howard gets to name them – inspired by characters from his favorite TV shows. Applications for the fosters are accepted on Howard’s website. North Shore Animal League reviews the applications and sometimes Beth even hand delivers the kittens to the lucky adopters.
She told the Associated Press back in September of this year that the first time she had to say goodbye to foster kittens who were being adopted, “one of the hardest days of my life….I was crying like a baby.” But the article also reveals that the day she said goodbye to those 6 babies she said hello to a new batch of 10!
Beth’s Instagram feed reveals a rather unique socialization method she employs on the fosters. I bet there’s quite a few guys out there right now wondering if they can apply for a foster position!
There’s even created a Facebook Page called Bianca’s Furry Friends (named after the beloved bull dog Beth and Howard lost last July after 10 years) where those who have adopted pets from Howard and Beth can share photos.
Beth has so many amazing photos with her fosters and cats I could post them for days. If you want to check them out yourself check be sure to check out Beth Sterns’ Twitter feed (I love her description on Twitter: “mom of apple, walter, leon bear & charlie boy. happy wife, happy life.”).
Do you foster cats or kittens? If so, tell us why you do it. What inspired you to foster and what d you get out of it? We want to hear about it and hopefully encourage other folks to do the same! Don’t forget. For ever cat that goes into a foster home, a cage is freed up to save the life of another cat. And fostering helps socialize cats, making them more easily adoptable.
And if you do foster, THANK YOU, THANK YOU THANK YOU!