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This 'Kitten Raiser' Nurtures Shy Cats Until They're Ready for Adoption

By Shaye Weaver | June 16, 2017 7:13pm | Updated on June 19, 2017 8:49am
 Charlie (at right) with one of his fosters.
Charlie (at right) with one of his fosters.
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Chandler Alteri

This dad is the cat's meow.

For five years, the ASPCA has been relying on Charlie, a gray-and-white house cat owned by an Upper West Side woman to "raise" their special-needs kittens.

Charlie was dubbed the agency's best "kitten raiser" because he can take shy and frightened kittens and mold them into ones that are ready for adoption by bathing, grooming and showering them with affection, the organization said. 

The cat dad and his owner, Chandler Alteri, regularly take kittens home to foster them for the ASPCA, and they have successfully churned out roughly 25 well-adjusted felines, despite any disabilities they had.

"It’s unreal," Alteri told DNAinfo New York on Friday. "Charlie has worked with cats that were completely blind and others who have had cerebral hyperplasia. One cat, named Champ, had hard time and couldn't make it to the litter box and was incontinent. Charlie helped him go to the bathroom, and was instrumental in helping get him cleaned up and to get around. It's really sweet; it's very beautiful and makes me want to cry."

Alteri, 27, got Charlie in Tennessee when she found him as a kitten abandoned at a campsite in a closed box. 

She had no idea he'd grow up to be so nurturing, and he's done so well that he even has his own Instagram page.

"I want to create little Charlies," Alteri said about fostering cats. "It’s hard being a foster because you get kittens and cats that have never known a human or they're terrified because they haven’t had good experience with humans. My goal is to love them as much as possible and give them as much attention as possible. Charlie is my guardian angel and a guardian angel to every cat he’s fostered."

The ASPCA's fostering program not only prepares cats for adoption but also provides a place to house them until they're old enough to be spayed or neutered.

Adi Hovac, a senior feline behavior counselor at the ASPCA Adoption Center, said that foster kittens benefit from having a calm, friendly cat for social support and a connection that humans can't offer.

"Charlie’s connection to the kittens creates a bridge between kitten and human," she said. "While kittens can be effectively socialized without the presence of a helper cat, having Charlie there definitely aids the socialization process. Charlie’s presence has the added benefit of socializing the kittens to other cats, making them more likely to enjoy the company of cats as they grow up."

Here's a look at some of the cats ready for adoption and their descriptions from the ASPCA.

Lucy

Lucy, 13, is "an extraordinary woman in the prime of her life," according to the ASPCA's listing. She's sweet but spunky and sassy. She needs a home with an experienced cat parent and kids who are older than 14.

Ina

Ina, 7, is calm and occasionally likes her space. She has some allergies that she takes medication for and needs an adults-only home.

Dionysus

Dionysus, 5, is slightly shy, but once he's comfortable he loves gentle attention and toys. He needs an adults-only home.

Bellona

Bellona, 4, is shy but warms up to friendly faces quickly and is curious, sweet and attentive. She's taking medication for her heart condition but she can be just as athletic and loving as any other cat.