A cute and curious black-and-white kitten has been saved from a violent death by a young Whangārei boy.
The boy had seen the kitten - since been named Zorro for his distinctive black mask-like facial markings - being thrown and kicked around by a group of children and rescued the kitten and took him home.
The boy's mum looked after Zorro for the night and as the family already had cats, they could not keep him so took him to the SPCA.
Zorro is being cared for at the SPCA centre but won't be ready for a home for another four or five weeks.
The rescue kicks off Northland's "kitten season" with the SPCA once again in need of foster homes over the next few months.
The months from November to March reliably produced a huge influx of queens (mother cats) and SPCA centres quickly reached bursting point, said Francine Shields, area manager for the SPCA in Whangārei, the Bay of Islands and Kaitaia.
"A foster family provides a temporary home for animals, giving them medicine for an illness, helping them become socialised and used to a home environment," Shields said.
"Foster families are critical for many animals, as they are given the care they need before being adopted to their forever homes."
Whangārei SPCA has a number of kittens in quarantine at the moment ahead of being ready to be homed or fostered out.
The Whangārei SPCA centre is also issuing a special call for families to foster adult dogs, some of which were recovering from surgery and would "absolutely thrive" given a stable environment in which to heal. Many puppies, cats and kittens also needed somewhere to go.
"We have a limited amount of space and people in our centres to care for these animals, so we rely on our fantastic fosterers to offer temporary homes for them," Shields said.
"It's an incredibly selfless thing to do, as it gives the animal a second chance at life."
Fostering involved caring for an animal for two to six weeks, at no cost to the foster family. SPCA supplied all food, medicine, bedding and toys to make the animal comfortable, but foster families needed their own transport to get animals to and from the centre, and be available for veterinary appointments.
"Fostering is a great option for those who can only open their homes on a temporary basis, or if they want to know what it would be like to have a pet live with them full time," she said.
National chief executive Andrea Midgen said the SPCA was "so thankful" for the families who showed love and patience to fostered animals.
"We do the very best we can, but for animals recovering from sickness or injury, or for those needing to work on their confidence, nothing beats a home environment," she said.
Contact your nearest SPCA centre for further information.