March 2023 Monthly Volunteer Profile: Anita Jacobson
People who volunteer with the Winnipeg Humane Society (WHS) share a passion for furry or feathered friends. We all demonstrate this passion and dedication in different ways, and in eight years Foster Parent Anita Jacobson and her husband Tim have shown this repeatedly by opening their doors and sharing their home with more than 160 cats.
Anita said Tim is largely responsible for what has become a major part of their lives. “I blame my husband for getting us into this,” she laughed. “We’re a partnership. He’s totally awesome and a real keeper.
Eight years ago, Tim received a hip replacement, a month after the surgery, Tim suggested to Anita that they foster a dog because they had the yard space to do it. “I told him ‘You can’t walk a dog. You’re using a walker. Perhaps a dog is not the right choice right now. Let’s foster a cat,’” she said.
So, they signed up to foster a cat. Razzmatazz, was a ‘gorgeous nine-month-old black male’ whose family was giving him up because of inappropriate litter box habits. He had to go to foster to make sure he would use his litter box. And he was fine. It was the start of what she calls ‘a great relationship’ with the Winnipeg Humane Society.
Anita said starting fostering for the WHS was a somewhat ironic experience for them. “We decided to start fostering for my husband’s sake, but Razzmatazz took one look at me and said, ‘I love you’ and followed me around and I totally ignored Tim. And for most of the cats since, that has been the case. They come to me, follow me around and give me all the love.”
Many cat enthusiasts might think the foster cats and kittens follow Anita because she’s doing the feeding. It started that way, but Anita is currently on crutches while awaiting surgery. So, Tim does the morning and evening feeding while Anita takes care of it during the day. But Anita still gets most of the affection.
She is a representative for Epicure, a company that sells healthy eating solutions. Her job gives her the time at home during the day to care for bottle babies needing a bottle every three hours or so. Her job also benefits the WHS – customers sometimes tell Anita to ‘keep the change’ on their Epicure purchases and she passes them onto the Winnipeg Humane Society during March Match Campaign after she matches them and then when any donations received are matched by a third party.
Two years ago, Anita and Tim adopted Jade, a four-year-old female black cat who has fit right in and helped with the fostering. Anita explained “we didn’t want to adopt a kitten; Kittens are easier to place. Adults are harder. Our girl is black. Black cats are harder to get adopted. When we met Jade, she rolled over and went ‘rub my little shaven belly’ and we went ‘you have to come home with us.’”
And through the years they have resisted fostering a dog. Anita suggested their house might be full if they had.
Shortly the household will be growing by one more pussy cat when Anita and Tim officially adopt their first-ever foster fail. Wagyu, a black-and-white ball of fur who was turned in to the WHS earlier with her mom and four four-month-old siblings.
“All of the babies were under 750 grams, which is extremely underweight,” Anita explained. “Typically, at eight weeks they are at about 1 kg. These were twice as old and only three quarters of a kilogram. They were winter babies and their mom did the best she could, but there’s not much food to find in winter, so it’s impressive that they made it that far. And then they were found and turned in to the WHS. Given that the kittens were already eating, it was decided that a mom and five small kittens was too much for one fosterer to handle, so the mom was handled separately, another person took three kittens and we got two. And we couldn’t give this one up. So, she’ll go back to the clinic to get spayed and then she’ll come to us to live permanently.”
Jade has had great fun with all the foster kittens, but none more so than Wagyu. Anita said they enjoyed a special bond and added that Wagyu will help teach the youngest new arrivals to ‘become cats.’
Anita said sometimes when you get bottle babies or single kittens, fostering is harder on them because they don’t know how to be a cat. “When we get them as a little bottle baby or single kittens, they bond to us because we feed them, and all their interaction is with us” she explained. “They know how to climb, how to purr and how to use the litter box, but they don’t know how to interact with other cats. So now we will have our baby and our six-year-old. Any fosters will be able to learn from them.” It’s also important to get the fosters used to people, she added, so they often have friends drop by to get cats used to human attention.
The 160-plus felines Anita and Tim have fostered has been a blend of adult cats, kittens, and bottle babies, which Anita describes as ‘very young kittens (under 4 weeks) that need to be fed every few hours because they have no mom, so I am their mom.’ Her experience with bottle babies is so extensive that she recently taught a class on raising bottle babies for the WHS. Her youngest bottle baby was 10 days old and its mother had passed away. But with Anita’s care, the baby survived.
And what advice would Anita have for people considering becoming a foster parent? Do it. You will never regret it,” she said. “Whether you foster occasionally, part-time or on a regular basis, the warm, fuzzy feeling we get for knowing we are saving lives give us far more than what they get. Without fostering, many of these cats wouldn’t make it, whether you’re talking about bottle babies, kittens or cats. Without fosters, the Winnipeg Humane Society would not have the capacity to care for as many cats as they do they have to be at a safe age to be neutered and spayed, so they require care. There’s only so much room at the inn.”
Written by: Brian Kozak, Volunteer MVP Writer
Photo by: Jim Harvey, Volunteer MVP Photographer
A group of volunteers founded the Winnipeg Humane Society in 1894 and are vital to our success today! With the help of volunteers, we can provide care, love and attention to our four (and sometimes two) legged friends until they find their forever homes. The MVP (Monthly Volunteer Profile) recognizes the work and gets to know these special MVP’s in a spotlight each month that includes an article and photo shoot. MVPs receive a framed photo and gift card as our thanks!
Is there a volunteer you’d like to nominate to be MVP? E-mail us ([email protected]) and tell us why you think they should be an MVP!