Pet Resource Center foster parent and local hero doesn't just save cats' lives, she also bestows endearing titles for them to live up to

Kyra McNiff has fostered many animals through the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center (PRC). Her knack for nursing special needs cats and raising whole litters of kittens make her a bit of a feline superhero. Some might even say her ability to name cats is one of her distinguishing superpowers. Despite her pet-fostering superstrength, McNiff's origin story is that of an everyday Hillsborough County resident.

A long time ago, in a state, far far away…
Though McNiff lives in Hillsborough County, her pet fostering journey began in New Jersey. She was 8 years old when she and her mom embarked on a road trip from their home in Long Island to visit family friends. When they arrived at their friends' house in Red Bank, New Jersey, McNiff was assigned to sleep in the "cat room." The spare bedroom was where her mom's friend was fostering a litter of kittens for a local pet shelter. For McNiff, it was like finding a slice of furry heaven. She didn't know it at the time, but she had also found her destiny.

Remembering her time in the cat room, McNiff beams as she describes being a young girl and blissfully surrounded by fuzzy, adorable kittens. She loved how playful and affectionate they were. For her, it was pure joy and the beginning of a lifelong passion.

"You cannot be sad while holding a kitten, unless you're crying about how cute the kitten is, which I have done," McNiff said.

Not so secret identity
Years later, when McNiff was 20, she and her family moved from Stonybrook, New York, to Brandon, Florida. While working at a coffee shop she came across two tiny kittens wandering around the drive-thru lane. They were teeny fluffballs with eyes that looked as if they had just opened. The kittens were vulnerable, alone, and aimlessly stumbling through traffic. McNiff did what any superhero would do - she swooped in, scooped up both kittens, and took them inside for safekeeping. Once she finished her work shift, she took the orphans straight to PRC.

The veterinary team at PRC evaluated the health of the kittens and determined that they were most likely born less than a week or two earlier. If they were going to survive, they would need to be bottle-fed and kept warm. It was a pivotal moment for McNiff - her kitty-fostering superpowers were about to be unleashed.

Though the kittens were fragile newborns, McNiff knew it was her fate to look after them. With directions and supplies from the PRC, McNiff returned home with her new best friends, which she lovingly named Butters and Steven. To this day, both cats live with McNiff, along with her three other rescue cats and the ongoing slew of foster kittens she cares for.

This looks like a job for superheroes

Since that fateful day when McNiff saved little Butters and Steven, she's taken in countless other cats and litters of kittens through PRC. Many of the cats she's fostered suffered from medical issues and required extra time and attention. For McNiff, a natural feline champion, saving kitties is instinctual. She's seen it all and healed it all -- ringworm, respiratory infections, skin issues, and more.

When she warmly recalls her favorite foster pets, a superstrength emerges: her remarkable knack for naming cats. Lady Latke, Pasta Pan, Parsnip, Jambalaya, Mr. Schnitzel, Prosciutto, Dorito -- the list grows as McNiff continues to heroically save cats and give them the love they need to thrive. Though some animals require special care, she finds deep satisfaction watching her fuzzy pals flourish and get adopted. The unlimited cuddles are also profoundly rewarding.

When asked what advice she has for other superheroes that are compelled to foster pets, McNiff points to persistence. "Just be patient. It's not always going to be sunflowers," McNiff said. "The emotional payoff is completely worth it."

Become a pet foster parent
Fostering a dog or cat can be an enriching and heartwarming experience. If you are looking for a way to bring extra joy into your home while helping a pet in need, consider fostering an animal from the PRC. The pet fostering process at the Pet Resource Center is easy.

If you would like to adopt a cat or dog, but have reservations, you may want to consider a pawdition. A pawdition -- an adoption trial period -- may be the perfect option for you. More importantly, pawditions can make a world of difference to you and the pet you welcome into your life.

For more information, contact the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center at (813) 272-1157 

Photo Information: McNiff found Butters and Steven stumbling around the drive-thru lane of the coffee shop she worked at.