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Woodbury woman is the cat's meow

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For several years, Woodbury resident Maddie Kanda has spent considerable time fostering abandoned horses and helping them get adopted. Now it’s her mother’s turn to help animals.

Woodbury resident Debbie Kanda is following in her daughter’s footsteps now that she has begun fostering abandoned kittens.

“My daughter inspired me,” Kanda said. “I don’t have the skill set to foster horses like Maddie does, but I love cats.”

Kanda is fostering two four-week-old kittens, a brother and sister, named Ash and Willow.

“They are so cute,” she said. “Just a lot a lof fun.”

Kanda is a foster for Feline Rescue Inc.

Feline Rescue

Feline Rescue was established in 1997 in Minneapolis.

The organization’s mission, according to its website, is to “provide rescue and relief to the homeless and endangered cats in our community.”

Feline Rescue is unique from some other animal rescue organizations because it is a no-kill rescue and it does not accept surrendered cats, only abandoned or stray cats, which is why Kanda decided to foster with them, she said.

Feline Rescue cares for up to 70 cats at its St. Paul adoption center and then relies on fosters homes to care for an additional 150 kittens and cats.

The goal of the foster program is to care for cats that do not do well in a shelter environment, such as shy kittens or cats with special needs.

“It’s whatever cat they decide to give you,” Kanda said.

Fosters must go through an application and interview process before being allowed to foster.


Kanda first began fostering with Feline Rescue in September, so she is on her fourth set of kittens.

The duration of fostering is anywhere from three to six weeks, and it could be longer.

“It really depends on the cats and what they need,” Kanda said. “They will stay with me as long as they have to.”

All of her previous fosters were adopted.

“It’s hard to give them up because you grow so attached to them,” Kanda said. “After my first set of kittens I cried for days.”

As a foster Kanda is responsible for providing a safe and warm environment for her kittens in addition to taking them to the veterinarian if they should need.

However, as a foster caregiver, Kanda’s primary mission is to socialize the cats and get them ready for adoption.

Kanda first began fostering Ash and Willow at the beginning of January after the two kittens were picked up by Minneapolis Animal Control.

When Ash and Willow first came to Kanda they were both suffering from colds, which meant Kanda had to take them to the veterinarian on a few different occasions.

Additionally, Kanda had to take both kittens in last week to be spayed and neutered.

Foster caregivers do not incur any cost; Feline Rescue covers all expenses.

Since Ash and Willow came to Kanda very shy, she decided to keep them in a small room in her house so that when she went in they didn’t have anywhere to hide.

“That way they need to be forced to socialize with me,” she said.

Kanda said she has already seen a change in her two kittens in terms of their shyness and playfulness.

“They love to play with my feet,” she said.

When it comes time for Ash and Willow to be adopted, the potential owners will be screened by Feline Rescue before coming to Kanda’s house to meet the kittens.

“Fosters get a little bit of say on who adopts them,” Kanda said. “We want to find a good match.”

Kanda said she hopes to continue fostering kittens for a while yet, maybe even one day adopting her own.

“It’s just so rewarding to see them get adopted,” she said. “If it weren’t for the fosters and Feline Rescue they’d probably wouldn’t be alive right now.”

Visit to see Ash and Willow’s progress.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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