On Thursday, Bruce Black went into the Bangor Humane Society and left with Buckshot, a fluffy, smoke-colored cat with a sweet temperament. Buckshot likes to talk, is calmed by the voice of Patsy Cline and happens to be very, very pregnant.

She is temporarily joining the rest of Bruce and his wife Kathy’s clan of three adopted dogs and three adopted cats at their home in Bucksport.

There she will give birth to her litter under the couple’s watchful eyes. Her babies will be cared for and socialized until they are at least 8 weeks old and weigh 1½ pounds each.

When they are ready they will be returned to BHS and placed up for adoption, as will Buckshot. Because of the time spent in the Blacks’ home, the kittens and their mother will have a better chance at finding good homes because they will be acclimated to a house environment, other pets and accustomed to being able to curl up on a lap.

Bruce and Kathy have been fostering animals for BHS for about 11 years. It’s their way of helping out.

“Kathy used to volunteer at the facility each Saturday, but as we have aged and have had a couple of health problems this became just a great way for us to do our part. When we first started we took dogs and I didn’t like cats at all. Now I absolutely love cats. We have three of our own and we are very often fostering others. We love doing it,” said Bruce.

The humane society is desperately searching for people willing to join the ranks of pet foster parents.

They have just a dozen foster homes now, 11 of them that take only cats.

“Ideally, we’d like to double the number of foster homes for cats and build a list of about a dozen people willing to foster dogs,” said Danielle Arbour, volunteer and event coordinator.

During these tough economic times all nonprofits are in need. Unfortunately it’s also a time when many people are finding it necessary to cut back on their usual charitable donations. Fostering is another way for people to help out. Just providing a warm home and human contact to an animal for a few weeks can make all the difference in whether that animal is able to be adopted or has to be euthanized.

BHS covers all the costs. They provide all food, vet care, cat litter and any equipment or other necessities the animal may need.

“I’m convinced that if we had enough foster families we could literally save the lives of hundreds of animals,” Arbour said.

The time commitment for a foster animal is generally two to 10 weeks.

Pets needing the help may be kittens, with or without a mother, that are too young to be adopted; a dog or cat recovering from surgery and in need of a quiet, healthful place to recuperate; pets in need of a bit of socialization, house-training, or just some basic manners. Sometimes it may be a litter of kittens in need of bottle-feeding because they have no mother.

“A lot of time we have kittens or pregnant mom cats, but we also have a need for dogs that could use a quiet place to recover from an injury. It’s a stressful environment in here for the animals and a foster home just provides such a great option for us,” said Arbour.

Unfortunately, that stressful environment is simply too much for some animals that already are in crisis and they become what those in the business call “cage-crazy.” They may become unsociable eventually and hence unadoptable and have to be euthanized. It’s often worse for dogs.

And what about those who may shy away from fostering for fear that parting with an animal after several weeks may simply be too heartbreaking?”

“Well, certainly foster families have the option to adopt, but I really try to remind them that if they end up with too many animals it may be impossible for them to continue to foster and they can help the abandoned animal population so much more by fostering,” said Arbour.

The program is flexible to the needs of the foster families, she said, and BHS staff will work with those interested in fostering by setting them up only with situations they are comfortable with.

“It may be a family just willing to take one or two kittens in at a time for a few weeks here and there,” she said. “That’s OK. We’d like to hear from you, and again we provide everything you need and cover all expenses.”

On Friday at his house in Bucksport, Bruce was keeping a close eye on Buckshot.

“She’s due to give birth any day now,” he said. “She’s such a sweet girl and not long from now I’ll be sitting in my chair with a couple of kittens in my lap.”

There are worse gigs.

I wish I could say that I could step up to help with this most noble cause, but this week in my house there were two sick kids, one healthy 17-year-old with a sometimes trying case of senioritis; Abby, the adopted and lame Labrador; Lilly, the adopted nervous cat who spends almost all of her time watching life go by from her perch in a box on the counter; Bubba, the very naughty but beloved stray who came here a year ago on the lap of a soft-hearted niece, and, oh yes, let’s not forget the temporarily displaced sister-in-law camped out on my couch.

The house is feeling a bit full.

Of course, a couple of little kitties don’t take up much room.

Anyone interested in the Bangor Humane Society’s program should contact Danielle Arbour at 942-8902 or at dani@bangorhumane.com

reneeordway@gmail.com