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Purrfect Pals Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Foster Mom Bilyana Yakova!

Purrfect Pals Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Foster Mom Bilyana Yakova!

Photo: Bilyana Yakova and Charlie, who she rescued from the streets of Bulgaria where, at only two months old, he lost his eyes to a horrible eye infection. 


Purrfect Pals Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Foster Mom Bilyana Yakova!

Bilyana Yakova is a very dedicated adult cat foster for Purrfect Pals. For the past two years, Bilyana has fostered special needs and hospice cats. Some of these cats required daily medications to get them well, inhaler treatments for asthma, and pain medications for end of life care. In her own words, Bilyana tells why she fosters adult cats and what motivates her to continue to care for them:

“I’ve spent my career so far working in social/ human services field. I’ve seen so many humans’ lives transformed simply because someone cared to provide them a resource at their time of need. To me helping animals falls in exactly the same category. I know very well (and periodically struggle with the fact) that I won’t be able to help every cat and dog in need. But the ones whose life I can impact are worth the work and emotion invested in rescue efforts. I started fostering for a variety of reasons. I don’t have a very high income so I can afford to donate only so much money to rescue organizations. But I do have some spare time and spare room in my house so I am in a position to make that my primary contribution.

“Adult cats are a perfect fit for me because they actually require very little work. Even if twice a day medication administration is needed, I can still do it before and after work. Older or sick kitties are also usually lower energy so they sincerely appreciate the opportunity to nap in a safe cozy spot much of the day. For a cat that has been on the streets or at a crowded shelter for a while, my foster room may be the first quiet, private space the kitty has experienced in a long time. I create a routine that makes regular, dedicated time for my foster cat and life simply adjusts to a new normal.

“Special needs and hospice animals have a particularly special place in my heart. Through absolutely no fault of their own, they have been dealt a bad hand. Even if we are healthy today, we humans don’t know when we may suddenly find ourselves in a similar position. And if I am sick or dying, I certainly hope I am safe, warm, and able to experience loving touch. When welcoming an end of life animal into my home, I am very honest with myself about what the path ahead of us will be. I make it my mission to capture and rejoice at the happy moments, and provide love, patience, and dignity. It is an amazing feeling when you see the trust of a foster kitty who snuggles in your lap, gives you head bonks, realizes the toy you offered him is actually fun (and may be the first one he has experienced, ever!). For many cats we don’t know what kind of life they have had before coming into rescue.

“A foster parent might provide the first and only source of consistently positive human interaction that a previously abused, neglected, or homeless kitty might have. I have no control over what the past was like. But I can definitely make sure the present is filled with love. What partly motivates me is also knowing that there aren’t a lot of foster homes willing to take on end of life kitties. So the contribution of every single one of us does count. When the inevitable good bye approaches, I allow myself to grieve. I do cry, I have rough days. To me that’s a sign that I am doing it right – I put my heart into it. I have a wonderful support system and the vast majority of people in my life share my love of animals. So they provide me comfort through these transitions. I have been asked how I can do hospice care. My answer is that the grief of losing a pet and the work to care for them, even when combined, are nowhere near as big as the love they give us back during the time we share with them. Every being deserves to end their life surrounded by love and dignity.

“Fostering adult cats is one of the ways in which I give back. I also foster final refuge dogs through Old Dog Haven – seniors who remain in their foster home for the rest of their lives. My day job is for Pet Partners- the nationwide leader in registering therapy animals to do visits in facilities like hospitals, schools, and nursing homes. We register nine species and one of them is cats! I love the many ways in which I am able to combine my love for animals and my passion for making the world a better place one being at a time.”

Interested in becoming a Purrfect Pals Foster Parent? Learn more by visiting our Foster Care page or emailing Susan, our Foster Care Manager, at fostercare@purrfectpals.org!

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