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18 Happy Stories of Puppies and Kittens Fostered During Coronavirus

Settle in for some heartwarming "tails" of adorable puppies and kittens who found foster homes (and sometimes forever homes) during the pandemic.

Cat and dog sleeping. Puppy and kitten sleep.FamVeld/Getty Images

Happy tails everywhere!

Animal shelters and rescues across the country were forced to close to the public due to the novel coronavirus. This meant no more meet and greets for those who wanted to adopt since the organizations were operating with limited staff. But fostering was still in full swing, and it became the ideal time for people to help out—and get a quarantine buddy in the process. Remarkably, the shelters cleared out quickly, and the experience has exceeded many foster parents’ expectations. These are the stories of how pets are melting their foster parents’ hearts—giving them love, companionship, and a pleasant distraction from the pandemic. Worried that you missed the boat? Don’t worry—you haven’t. Here’s how you can still foster a pet.

dog Courtesy Alexandra Light

Ludo

When Alexandra returned to Nashville after an off-the-grid yoga and meditation retreat in Colorado, she was surprised to enter the new quarantine world. “I was returning to an empty home, as both my roommates had left town before the lockdowns were enforced,” she says. “The first few weeks were incredibly lonely, not having another living soul in the house with me.” A close friend who was fostering a dog suggested that Alexandra do the same.

She started poking around online and discovered Stay Home and Foster, a program that connects foster parents and shelters. Soon, the Nashville Humane Association contacted her and told her about Ludo. Just one look and she was smitten. Now she’s head over heels for new BFF. “Ludo is the sweetest thing!” Alexandra gushes. “She is well-behaved, falls asleep listening to Hiss Golden Messenger and Willie Nelson, and dances listening to Grateful Dead and Tedeschi Trucks Band—just like her new mama. I’m so blessed to have her during this weird time in our history.”

By the way, here’s what the experts have to say about whether or not a dog can catch coronavirus.

anchor kittenCourtesy Martina Valverde

Anchor

When coronavirus hit, Martina wasn’t quite ready to adopt another pet, since she had recently lost one of her two cats to cancer. Then the unexpected happened. “I had a friend reach out and ask the best place to adopt a kitten, so I took it as a sign that maybe I needed one, too,” says Martina, who lives in Dallas, Texas. That’s when she decided to sign up to be a foster through Stay Home and Foster, and shortly after was contacted by the Humane Society of North Texas to foster Anchor.

Anchor has brought new life to Martina and cat sibling Rayna at this doubly difficult time. “She’s my shadow, following me wherever I go, and she makes sure she’s cuddled up in my arms when it’s time to sleep,” Martina explains. “And she’s so loving and playful, which Rayna really appreciates because she thinks she’s a kitten, too.” These 21 before-and-after cat adoption photos will melt your heart.

Destiny V. kittensCourtesy Destiny V.

Lando

When the Human Society North Texas put out the call for emergency fosters due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Destiny thought it would be a great time to foster a litter of kittens and teach her kids more responsibility. “Little did we know how much we would need them during our shelter-in-place,” says Destiny. “The kittens became a daily source of joy for us during what felt like a Groundhog Day existence. They were growing every day and getting bolder, more active, and more fun!”

They fell in love and adopted Lando, a sweet boy born with a slight leg deformity and extra digits on each paw. “He was so cute as he learned to walk on his little bent leg,” notes the proud pet mom. “He never let it stop him from exploring and was the first one to cuddle up next to you.” Brace yourself—here’s a peek at the cutest cat breeds as kittens.

lime dog Courtesy Homeward Trails

Lime

After the Guanica Animal Rescue Project in Puerto Rico found this sweet pup and her siblings, the Homeward Trails Animal Rescue brought them to Arlington, Virginia, in the hopes of finding them forever homes. Well, Lime found the perfect one for her—and it even came with some new furry siblings! “Lime has been a light of joy for my family,” Maria, her new pet mama, says. “She has become the little princess of our home. She loves her siblings—a dog, Kenji, and Kuddles, a cat. Quarantine is a lot more fun and tolerable with Lime in our lives. We are so happy we adopted her!” You’ll love these heartwarming before-and-after dog adoption photos.

pearl dog rescueCourtesy Homeward Trails

Pearl

Pearl was just one of the adorable hound/lab-mix pups surrendered to a kill shelter, but thankfully her luck improved from there. The Homeward Trails Adoption Center found her a foster home and eventually a fur-ever home with Melissa in Alexandria, Virginia. “Raising and training our six-month-old Pearl during the pandemic has been so rewarding!” Melissa says. “My husband and I are empty-nesters, and this puppy has been a godsend for us!”

One of their favorite activities with Pearl is walking. “Having a walk schedule has helped us to have some predictability in our lives during these very unpredictable times,” she says. “It’s also been a good way to ‘see’ neighbors while maintaining a safe distance.” Don’t miss this feel-good story of a woman who fostered not one but two dogs during COVID-19—and why it was the best decision she ever made.

crusher and mcduff dogs rescue Courtesy Tracee Dunblazier

Crusher and McDuff

Little darlings Crusher and McDuff were suffering from kennel cough when foster mom Tracee Dunblazier first took them in from Hollywood Huskies Rescue. “They were very sick when I received them, and being able to focus on something I could influence for the better was a gift,” says Tracee. “But mostly, the relationship they forged with my Husky, Paloma, was amazing. She took care of them as if they were her own. Paloma was used to spending countless hours at the dog park with other dogs, which stopped completely with the citywide pandemic shutdown. These puppies have given us love, hours of joy, and an opportunity to focus on the things in our life that are life-affirming.” Whether you’re fostering like Tracee or adopting, don’t make 13 puppy training mistakes you’ll regret later.

chris catCourtesy Andrew Marttila

Sir Chris

Thanks to Hannah Shaw—aka the Kitten Lady, who works with the Orphan Kitten Club rescue organization—Sir Chris is purr-fectly happy in his new forever home in San Diego, California. When pet parent Sarah saw Sir Chris on the Orphan Kitten Club page, she swooned and immediately applied to adopt him. “Chris is a gift! He has been the silver lining of quarantine,” Sarah says. “Honestly, it has been the best thing to have adopted and brought him into my family during this time.” Sarah was able to get expert advice for introducing Sir Chris to her other cat, Lady Lydia, through the Catology webinar series, which is hosted by Shaw and Royal Canin. “It’s been a huge mental boost to watch the bond grow between Lady Lydia and Sir Chris,” Sarah adds.

oreo kittenCourtesy Andrew Marttila

Oreo

Oreo was hardly a “double-stuffed” cat when Shaw (the Kitten Lady) found him. Just three weeks old and in grave health, he needed loving pet parents to nurse him back to health. Enter Aaron and Sabina. They already had an adult cat at home, but they didn’t hesitate to foster this little sweetie. As new foster parents, they were able to take advantage of the educational webinars on Catology, to learn about feline basics such as nutrition, behavior, and socialization.

And even though Aaron and Sabina technically saved Oreo, he did some saving of his own, too. “It’s given me a routine back,” Sabina says. “Now we have a job to do, and that is to take care of Oreo.” Aaron is a particularly proud papa because this is the first cat he’s raised from being a kitten. “It has been a special couple of weeks, having this time at home and being able to spend all of it with him and Cake—it’s been amazing!” He adds.

These are the 12 telltale signs your cat is happy.

debbie kittenCourtesy Andrew Martilla

Debbie

Natalie wasn’t planning on getting another cat, but she couldn’t resist Debbie’s super cute calico face. And as it turned out, it was actually the perfect time for Natalie’s family to welcome another furry family member. “She is getting lots of attention. It’s been enriching and fun and something to look forward to,” says Natalie, who lives in San Diego, California. With the resources from the Kitten Lady and Catology, Natalie got the scoop on how to introduce Debbie to their other cat, Gretta. It was a peaceful introduction and the whole family just gelled. Natalie decided to adopt Debbie and is proud as punch to be a “foster fail,” a foster parent who chose to adopt their foster pet.

Unfortunately, not all pet introductions go so well. In fact, these pet combinations will probably hate each other.

pebbles catCourtesy Homeward Trails

Pebbles

 

Sydney lived a busy life in Washington, D.C., and while she had considered fostering cats with Homeward Trails Animal Rescue over the years, she’d decided against it because she didn’t think she was home enough. That all changed once she started working at home after coronavirus hit. She’s now fostering two quarantine buddies, an adult cat named Sad Eyes and a kitten named Pebbles.

“Throughout the pandemic, it has been easy for me to get wrapped up in the stress and uncertainty of it all,” Sydney says. “During work hours, the cats have been keeping me motivated by snuggling on my lap or at the foot of my desk. At night, my roommate and I have laughed so hard at their intense games of tag and attempts to catch their mouse toy. My roommate and I also have a game where we see how long it takes the cats to dash to the kitchen after they hear us pulling out treats. So far, Pebbles is the fastest!”

chancellor dogCourtesy Thomas Family

Chancellor

Formerly known as Barry, this handsome little guy arrived at the Arizona Humane Society from a partnering animal welfare organization after he came down with parvo, a contagious viral infection. He was treated and nursed back to health, preparing to make his big debut at a signature fundraising event for the group. Meanwhile, Jeremy Thomas, who works on a morning radio show in the area, got wind of Barry’s story and decided to welcome him into his family before anyone else had a chance to fall in love with him. “Bringing Chancellor into our home has helped everyone in our house. He has helped remind us to find joy in the little things during this time because he’s happy all the time,” Jeremy says. “We had two older dogs before we adopted Chancellor, and he has also helped put a pep in their step.”

If you’re a new pet parent, there are a few things you have to know. To start, learn which dog vaccinations your puppy really needs.

catCourtesy Wonder Paws Rescue

Jaime

Tiffany’s saving grace came by way of a box of four baby kittens. Found outside a building, this abandoned litter fell into the good hands of the Wonder Paws Rescue in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Unfortunately, the kittens weren’t off to a good start—they were infested with worms and needed special care. Tiffany and her family stepped in to help, nursing them back to health and giving them lots of love in the process.

“These four babies have been our saving grace during this pandemic and have brought our family together in a special way,” Tiffany says. “Instead of focusing on all we can’t do, the kittens fill our days with fun and love as we spend time together watching them play, cuddling with them, and caring for them. When we reflect on this time in our home, our fondest memories will be of our times spent with these sweet babies.” And more memories are in the making because Tiffany has decided to adopt Jaime. You just can’t deny these 10 incredible benefits of owning a pet.

catsCourtesy Wonder Paws Rescue

Sammy and Hazel

Sammy and Hazel are two of Jaime’s siblings who were in the care of the Wonder Paws Rescue. Their future looks equally paw-some now that their Miami-based foster mom, Stacey, has decided to adopt them. “These kittens have brought our family so much joy through this pandemic,” she says. “At a time where we have no control over much, we all feel a sense of purpose as we provide a safe home for these sweet babies. We spend less time on our devices and more time down on the floor playing! My family works together as a unit for these kittens, and we have bonded even more. These little furballs have distracted us from the negative things that are going on in the world.”

milo cat Courtesy Melissa McMahon

Milo

Helpless and so tiny, Milo and his siblings were found abandoned in a box when they were just three weeks old. They were bottle-fed and cared for by foster parents through the Arizona Humane Society, and once they were old enough for adoption, they returned to the shelter. But the kittens barely had time to settle in because they were all adopted the day they returned!

Melissa and her two daughters, Aleah and Kailey, adopted one and named him Milo. They’ve been showering him with lots of love during the pandemic, and Milo has been returning it in spades. “Milo has blessed our family with so much love and entertainment during this quarantine. He’s so sweet! When he’s not cuddling with us, he is always climbing something, especially his cat tree,” says Melissa. “We are so happy with him that we are going back to the Arizona Humane Society next week to adopt another kitten!”

Did you know that you can train your cat? Check out these 5 amazing things cats can learn to do.

simba catCourtesy Margot Maley

Simba

“My boyfriend and I had been considering adopting a cat for the better part of six months,” says Margot, who lives in New York City. “When we learned there was a need for short-term fosters while New York was social distancing, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to test out the responsibilities of pet ownership.” They connected with Brooklyn Animal Action, picked up Simba, and were off to a healthy start, courtesy of the Foster with Smalls campaign, which helped cat foster parents around the country by providing Smalls food and supplies during the peak of COVID-19.

Simba stole the couple’s heart, so they recently adopted him. “I think the biggest thing he’s given us is a welcome distraction from everything that’s going on,” Margot says. “It’s hard to stay fixated on a global pandemic when you have a cat to feed and entertain!” Fostering a cat is something just about anyone can do, but you might want to think twice about attempting these things during quarantine.

paw works dogsCourtesy Chad Atkins and Ellie Laks

Valene

A volunteer from Paw Works found Valene and her eight sweet siblings in a cardboard box in Central Valley, California. After they were given a clean bill of health, Paw Works took them to the Gentle Barn, an animal sanctuary in Santa Clarita for a little adventure. It was here that Valene met her forever father. “Just at the start of COVID-19, my dad lost his dog and best friend of 17 years. Being in the house all alone was almost unbearable,” says Ellie Laks, founder of the Gentle Barn.

The arrival of Valene has brightened his home, kept him active, and put a smile back on her dad’s face. “Valene follows him around, naps in his lap, accompanies him on long walks, and sleeps in his arms,” says Ellie. “No matter how long quarantine lasts now, my dad will get through it just fine with his new companion by his side.”

Dogs might as well be wearing a cape considering all the superpowers they have that make our lives better.

rudy dogCourtesy Derek & Ellen Brown

Rudy

Adorable pup Rudy went from being an abandoned, sick puppy to living in a home every pup dreams of having. Derek and Ellen, along with their two kids, had been yearning for a dog for quite some time, but since they’d never had a dog, they were worried about caring for one properly. But when they saw Rudy on the Arizona Humane Society website, they knew it was go-time.

“The second we laid eyes on the pup, we fell in love. Somehow we knew Rudy was not only what we all needed during this pandemic, but we also knew we wanted to provide Rudy with a good home,” Derek says. “It was when we were driving home and Rudy fell asleep right on my wife’s lap that we knew Rudy and all of us were a match made in heaven. We all seem to be a lot more patient, loving, and just kind, and God knew we needed it right now.” Talk about puppy power!

lincoln dogCourtesy Wonder Paws Rescue

Lincoln

Catherine Marie has a job that requires more time on the road than at home. The pandemic changed all that, and she suddenly found herself working from her home in Miami. That’s when she decided to pay a visit to the Wonder Paws Rescue and met her new coworker, Lincoln. He prefers belly rubs over meetings, but that’s A-OK with Catherine.

“Lincoln has made my whole world turn upside down in the best possible way. You take one look and you see his big eyes looking at you with all this love he has to give,” Catherine Marie says. As a bonus, Lincoln is also her fitness partner, taking her on adventure walks and lizard chases. “He’s just a little pup with all this fresh, new, and exciting perspective on the world, and he makes you think that together you can conquer anything the universe throws your way,” she adds.

She would adopt Lincoln in a heartbeat, but once the pandemic is over, she’ll return to her busy work travel schedule, and won’t be home enough to care for Lincoln.

For more on this developing situation, including how to stay sane and safe, see our comprehensive Coronavirus Guide.

Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer who writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, HealthiNation, The Family Handyman, Taste of Home, and Realtor.com., among other outlets. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center. Follow her on Instagram @lisamariewrites4food and Twitter @cornish_conklin.