Cat award

Cause for Paws President Nancy Pimentel handing the ‘Foster of the Year’ award to Shirley Sousa.

The Cause for Paws Foundation awarded Shirley Sousa of Newman the ‘Foster of the Year’ award after having fostered more than 106 cats and kittens this year alone.

Having been a foster for nearly three years now, Sousa had started fostering with the intent of doing good by the stray animal community in the Westside since her retirement had allowed her to open up her schedule.

Three years later into the present day, Sousa had never thought that the number of cats she would foster would reach the triple digits, let alone nearly 200 in total. However, this year alone has proven to be the most difficult, with Sousa having to foster cats that amounted to over half of that grand total.

“This year has been an unusual year, we now work with a rescue out of the Bay Area and they had issues where they couldn't take in as many cats as usual. It’s been like a really hard year because there’s just been so many cats and kittens needing help,” said Sousa.

While fostering, it is up to Sousa to prepare every cat or kitten to be adopted into a home of their own, which includes providing house-breaking training and maintaining their basic needs. Though the work of fostering up to 40 cats and kittens at one time had proven to be a lot of hard work, Sousa does it for the very rewarding results.

Within the comment section of the Cause for Paws Foundation’s post of Sousa’s award, were several owners of the cats she had fostered, thanking her for all of her dedication.

“I mean it’s so rewarding to know that you helped out the kittens and then helped out the families to find their forever pets,” said Sousa.

Sousa also aids in the Cause for Paws’ efforts in diminishing the feral cat population within the Westside. Since there is currently no specific cat shelter in place within the Westside in order to house feral cats before their scheduled TNR operations, Sousa and the rest of the members of CFP have found innovative ways to ensure that feral cats will have their operations.

“We were locating an area and then trapping and then bringing them back to my house. I have a big garage and we have crates in the garage and we were putting the ferals in there until the TNR date,” said Sousa.

What is most significant to Sousa, after her experience of fostering within the Westside, has been the lack of other fosters available within the area.

“It’s so rewarding, helping out the animal population and so rewarding to see so many people that I still keep in contact with; people that they have adopted from me and I say please stay in touch and they send me pictures,” said Sousa.

Anyone interested in becoming a foster can reach out to Cause for Paws via their Facebook messenger at @NewmansCauseforPaws2015, where you can also find the organization's Paypal, which anyone can donate to at any time.