Blink and Bean are a special team. Both kittens have had the lion’s share of hardship to carry on their tiny furry shoulders. But they have come out on top and are loving life the way all kittens should, thanks to the lifesaving power of fostering.
Blink was a tiny, feral kitten found on the road in an industrial estate. Her eyes were so badly deformed and infected that she was unable to see. Bean was also a stray, found with a leg so badly broken the vet had to amputate it.
Both kittens were taken in by Millicent Hayes, a foster carer volunteering with rescue group WA Pet Project in Perth. Millicent is a mum to five human kids, and has three cats already in the family. But she managed to find some room at the inn to squeeze in these two down-on-their-luck kitties.
It was Millicent’s husband who found Blink as a tiny kitten in the middle of the road in an industrial area.
“I received a text from my husband saying he’d found a kitten in the road,” says Millicent. “He asked me what he should do, so I told him to pick her up and take her to our ensuite bathroom so she had somewhere safe and quiet to rest.
“When I got home and saw her, it made my heart break. Her eyes were badly infected and almost crusted completely shut. Being feral, she was also very scared. All I wanted to do was cuddle her, but she was so afraid of me.
“Luckily, she was quite trusting of my husband. She grew accustomed to sitting on the back of the lounge, behind his head, grooming his hair. It quickly became her favourite spot.”
Not long after, Blink came into the Hayes family. Millicent received a call from the president of WA Pet Project to ask whether she would take another special kitten under her wing, until a permanent home could be found.
“Like Blink, Bean was disabled - with only three legs. My heart went out to her, and I also thought it might be nice for Blink to have a friend that was a similar age,” says Millicent.
“The first thing I noticed was her beautiful golden eyes and how friendly and sweet she was. She immediately rubbed up against me. With Blink being quite shy still, it was so nice to have such an outgoing kitten. I knew that her confidence would likely rub off on Blink.
“It was fun watching the girls get to know each other. It took them a few hours to figure each other out. But once they did, they were firm friends - playing and snuggling with each other,” says Millicent.
“Blink purred easily for my husband, but was still wary of the rest of us. It took about a week until Blink would purr for me, and the first time she did it was so satisfying. It seems such a small thing but it made me so happy.
“Bean was friendly with everyone from day one, but she found it challenging trying to play on three legs. I watched her grow in confidence, learning to bat a toy ball with her front leg and it was wonderful to see her having so much fun. My 18-month-old loved to watch her too, and would often belly laugh watching Bean at play. That toy ball is still her favourite toy.”
At first, both Millicent and her husband were quite certain that they were not looking to add two more cats to their family, when they already had three felines. But it soon became clear that these two kittens had made themselves very much at home with the Hayes family, and the decision was made to adopt them both.
“Blink has changed completely, she used to be very afraid and now she is full of confidence. She loves lots of affection and is completely fearless around the house. I swear she can see some days with how confident she is getting around!
“Bean hasn't really changed much, as she was already a very friendly social butterfly. But she has developed a very interesting way of balancing on her back legs so she can use her front paw to play. We think she looks a bit like a kangaroo!”
Through opening her heart and her home to foster and then adopt these precious young kitties, Millicent has learned some incredible life lessons herself.
“Blink and Bean are a constant reminder to not let anything hold me back. Despite the challenges they face, they are just so full of joy. It is very hard to feel sorry for myself, or get too down when they are there to remind me what life is really about love,” says Millicent.
“They have made me more patient and more aware of the challenges faced by disabled pets. They have inspired me an advocate for disabled animals and spread the word that they are just as wonderful as any other pet.”
You don’t have to adopt to make a difference! Fostering is a life-changing way to help special needs pets who need a temporary place to stay until a permanent home is found.
Fostering is also a great way of getting to know a pet to see whether they are the right fit for you and your lifestyle. Sometimes relationships that are founded on empathy and compassion can lead to real love and truly meaningful bonds, like in the case of Blink and Bean.
There are hundreds of community-based foster care networks around the country, and they rely on foster carers to save thousands of lives every year.