What a difference three weeks makes.
When we first met Apollo and Calliope, they were two weeks old, eyes barely opened and needed their mom constantly.
Now, at five weeks old, the kittens' eyes are wide open, they're running around and getting into everything. Their foster mom Nicole Munchel says its the kind of chaos she craves.
"I just like having these little kittens and watching them grow, seeing how they learn, how to play and run and interact with one another," she said. "It's really adorable."
It's safe to say Munchel is hooked on fostering. The first litter she and her partner Elizabeth Pritchard cared for were so young they needed to be bottle-fed every three hours or so. Over time, they have fostered 60 kittens and their moms.
"How can you not be hooked when you get little kittens like this all the time," she said while cuddling Calliope.
The Maryland SPCA relies heavily on foster families like Munchel and Pritchard to care for animals in their homes. Tina Regester, the communications director for the Maryland SPCA, says the shelter saves about 3,500 animals a year and about a third of them go into foster care.
"Our shelter would be so full we wouldn't be able to continue transporting pets from other shelters bringing them back to the MDSPCA," Regester said. "Many of those pets have health issues or are tiny and need to go to foster care and this program truly saves lives."
The Maryland SPCA provides all of the items necessary to foster an animal, you provide the time, space and love. And staying in a shelter versus a home can make a big difference for some of the pets that come into the shelter's care.
"For anxiety levels and for the comfort of the pet, its really critical that they're in a home setting," Regester said.
Fundraisers like the Festival for the Animals help the Maryland SPCA continue to save pets both big and small, healthy and ill all year round. For information on how to register, click here.