REDDING, Calif. -

As kitten season approaches the animal shelters are poised to fill very quickly.  But there is something for animal lovers to help out the shelters in a big way.

You can foster a pet or a litter of kittens or puppies.  And everyone loves kittens and puppies!

By fostering you help the animals by giving them a place to live with more freedom than the shelter can give and you help the shelter by caring for young or injured pets.

The injured animals can have everything from non-contagious skin infections that might require a bath with medicated shampoo once or twice a week, or one with a broken bone which will just need some time to heal.  In both cases Haven Humane will ask you to pay for the medication and medical supplies.  Normally those costs come to about $70 a month.

They also offer litters of puppies and kittens for foster care.  Those generally don't require medical attention, but officials say that they can actually be the most work.

“If you’re going to foster bottle babies [very young] then you’re in for a lot of work,” said Haven Human CEO Mark Storrey.  “Once they’re older and they’re weaned, then it’s really just feeding them and giving them attention.”

It can be especially labor intensive if the babies don’t have their mother with them.  Then the babies need to be fed often and may need to be encouraged to go to the bathroom.  But Haven officials say they try to foster out full families - with mother and babies - when they get a litter of really young cats or dogs.

They will also ask to make sure you’re up to caring for a litter or an injured or sick animal.  They say there aren’t any surprises for foster parents.

Once the dogs and cats are fed and cared for the fun begins, especially for the puppies and kittens: the socialization.

“Socialization is pretty easy.  You give them loves,” says Haven Humane Adoptions Manager Christina Murphy.  “Make sure you’re not sticking them in a room to be by themselves.  If you’re interacting with a dog then they’re getting socialization right there.”

The biggest limiting factor is generally landlords and space.  Kittens don’t need as much space, and can usually be accommodated in an apartment.  Puppies usually will need a yard.  And that yard needs to fenced in so the puppies don’t go rogue.

Storrey warns that puppies are “like having a whole bunch of two year olds running around the house.  They’re going to try to get into everything.”  But as down sides go, a renegade band of puppies is pretty awesome.

The best thing about fostering is it can change the lives of the animals you foster.  It gets them out of the kennel, helps them heal and can really make them happier.  In addition to all that, it really helps the animal shelters a lot.

“You may have a busy schedule but if you’re able to foster and help out in any way, it really helps the animals,” said Murphy while cradling a squirming puppy.

Storrey does admit, there is once huge risk involved with fostering pets … not wanting to return them when they need to return to the shelter.  Storrey is living proof of that.  He says he can’t foster any more dogs because he’s already adopted both of the dogs he fostered and would probably adopt the next one he fosters.