What Have You Learned About How To Foster Cats?

So, what do you know about how to foster cats? Do you understand what it involves? When you agree to foster, you take a homeless cat into your home, and give that cat love, care, and attention. You might keep kitty for a predetermined amount of time, or until the cat gets adopted.

Why Has A Need Developed For Foster Care?

Perhaps the cat comes from a rescue group that has no shelter for keeping animals. Then, the cat stays in the foster home until a suitable forever home appears. Or, a cat might find the shelter such a stressful place that he paces and hides.

An environment that feels like a home usually provides the best situation for a kitty. The cat needs a place to feel safe and relax. They require regular meals, a warm, dry place, and no other animal who might come to challenge them in the night.

A cat who has suffered neglect or abuse does not know what a loving home feels like. Creating a safe place for that kitty becomes so important in readying the animal for adoption.

A kitten, still too young for adoption, needs a safe place to stay until he/she reaches a suitable age. Or, perhaps a cat recovers from surgery, illness, or injury, and has to have a safe place for its recovery.

A mess of kittens

Perhaps the cat has never lived in a home before, and needs to go through a socialization process before he becomes ready for adoption. Sometimes the shelter runs out of space and must find a temporary home for a cat as an alternative to euthanasia.

What Are Foster Cat Benefits?

This experience often can become one of the most rewarding experiences you can have, short of adopting a cat to keep forever. You may save a cat life, because by fostering, you clear a space at the shelter that can be occupied by another cat needing care.

You can help prepare the cat for the experience of adoption, so when the time comes, he will know what to expect, and his adjustment will be easier. By having a close relationship with the cat for a time, you will get to know him, which can help him end up in the best possible home.

If he has to learn socialization skills, you can take the necessary time to teach him to accept other people, pets, and circumstances.

How Long Will A Foster Cat Live With You?

The length of the cat’s stay depends on the cat’s needs and how easy it will become for someone else to adopt the cat. If you foster a kitten with no medical problems, they will usually find a forever home quickly.

In contrast, a senior cat with a treatable medical condition may take more time to find someone willing to deal with the extra care and financial responsibility necessary.

Young tiger cat sleeping

You might find an organization that allows you to foster for a couple of weeks, as with a cat who has lived in the rescue for a while and needs a break. You could foster a cat who is going through a short and simple medical recovery. Quiet and TLC will help both these felines.

If you can offer a quarantine space while a cat recovers from a mild respiratory infection, kitty will appreciate it. The same goes for a cat who has just gone through dental surgery and needs quiet and peace to recoup.

Some Foster Cats Need A Longer Stay

Perhaps the cat will stay in your home until a new adoption comes about. You could have this cat from weeks to months. It depends on the situation and the cat’s particular situation. You can help this cat by getting to know its personality, or perhaps a medical issue may cause him to stay with you longer.

You may be asked to commit to a certain length of time. For example, a pregnant female often stays in the foster home until it has its kittens and they are weaned and spayed or neutered. Then they will return to the rescue.

sad-looking orange cat

You could even become involved in a permanent foster situation. Perhaps health deteriorates or the cat becomes old and simply requires a home away from the shelter where they can live out their remaining days in peace.

In such a situation, the rescue continues to provide supplies and medical care, which would not happen if the family simply adopted the animal.

Foster families who in essence provide hospice care for elderly cats perform such a caring service for an older animal who can end life in a peaceful, loving home.

Think About Answers To These Questions

If you truly wish to foster a cat or kitten, you will have questions to answer for the rescue organization. How would you respond to these questions?

  1. Do you already have pets in your household? Do your pets get along well with other animals? If you foster, would you prefer to keep your foster separate, even if they all get along? Would you prefer an animal who won’t mind spending time alone in a designated space?
  2. Do you have space for a foster? Can you dedicate some space solely to your new charge if necessary? What size is the space? Can it be disinfected if necessary? Do you own your home, or will your rental allow pets? What about extra fees? What noise level describes your home: active and noisy, or calm and quiet?
  3. Do you have children? What are their ages? How will they interact with a foster? Consider breed, age, and activity level and describe what best fits your household. Can you take a contageous animal? What animal temperament would fit best with your household?
  4. Do you have time for a foster with your daily schedule? Can you spend time with kitty throughout the day, before and after work, perhaps less during the week but more on the weekend? Can you make time to sit quietly with kitty, or to work on behavior issues? Make your choice on the type of rescue you want to get depending on your own work/home schedule. Let the rescue folks help you choose.
  5. How flexible is your schedule? Some fostered cats, such as those having just undergone surgery, will require regular checking for the first few days. If you take on orphaned kittens, you will have to feed them every few hours, day and night. If your foster has medical issues, you may have to take them to the rescue/veterinarian for care. How predictable are your at-home times?
  6. Do you live close to the rescue organization? If your rescue must have regular veterinary time, you might want to find a rescue close to you. If your kitty requires multiple vet visits, neither you nor the animal will benefit from multiple long car trips.
  7. For what supplies must you assume responsibility? Most rescues will cover all medical expense, including medication. Some supply everything, from food and bowls to beds and litter boxes, and sometimes include a toy or blanket. Check with the rescue.
  8. What about a cat with potty issues? It depends on your home and your willingness to deal with such issues. Don’t be afraid to say no.
Animal Rescue Shop

Other Questions You Must Answer

Consider this information when making a decision to choose a foster: Your job becomes the providing of a safe and healthy environment. Teaching cats positive family and pet relationships includes socialization and cuddle time. Exercise and positive stimulation gain great value.

What if I work full-time? You can still foster. The center will help match you with the best animal for your needs and work schedule. A cat that can handle alone time during the work day should then get ample attention before and after work. Then, spend as much time with kitty as you can.

What about a fenced yard? You will not need a fenced yard as all foster cats are required to stay indoors during the duration of their stay.

How long will kitty live in foster care? It depends on the cat’s specific issues. If you deal with medical or behavioral issues, these may take some time, but will become resolved better in a home setting. When the vet clears kitty for adoption, you can then return the cat to the adoption center.

Grey tiger cat held by shelter staff member

What about giving medicine? Often, a cat becomes exposed to various illnesses in the shelter. An incubation period could allow some symptom to arise after the cat goes home with you. If it turns out that your cat has a medical issue requiring medication, the center will show you how to administer it.

Can my foster play with my pets? A word of caution only — make sure all your at-home cats are healthy and vaccines up-to-date. If your personal cat goes outdoors, he/she cannot interact with your foster, as he has more risk of contacting illness than your at-home cat.

Can I adopt my foster cat? Yes, you can adopt — just make sure to let the foster coordinator know right away. Then, complete an adoption application and follow the full required process.

Preparations Necessary For A Foster Cat

Your new foster may well be frightened, so try not to overwhelm him. You might start by confining him to a small room at first, to let him adjust. He may hide for the first couple of days, which you can consider normal.

Provide food and water dishes and a litter box. Do ensure that you house him indoors only. Do not use a garage, backyard or outdoor enclosure. Minimize people and pet intros for the first couple of weeks. Give the cat a space of his own and a chance to adjust to the changes.

Though the rescue center usually provides any supplies needed, they would appreciate any help you can give to supply some of them. You could furnish some of the following:

little white cat in large empty box
  1. At least one bowl for dry food and one for water. The best kind to use include stainless steel or ceramic.
  2. Supply of dry cat food
  3. Collar with ID tag
  4. A soft bed
  5. Uncovered litter box. (This one’s very important. My old cat, Pogo,would go outside the box if it were covered. Once the cover came off, he discontinued that behavior.)
  6. Scratching posts
  7. Treats and toys
  8. Grooming supplies

Is Your Home Cat-Proofed?

Cats can prove very clever, and can have abilities you didn’t recognize when you brought kitty home. Follow these guidelines to cat-proof your home:

  1. Keep trash cans covered or latched; keep in a closet (include bathroom trash receptacles.)
  2. Keep toilet lids closed
  3. Both people and pet food do not belong on counter tops or within reach.
  4. Move house plants out of reach
  5. Don’t put aquariums or animal cages where kitty can reach them.
  6. Remove medications, lotions, or cosmetics away from access.
  7. Make sure electrical and phone wires can not be chewed with kitty; neither does he need to get tangled in them.
Tiger cat unrolling toilet paper

Together, We Can Save Them All

By fostering a homeless cat, you will help us move one step closer to solving the homeless cat problem. If enough people step up to help, perhaps we can make a real impact for these poor unfortunate animals.

When we foster, we play a most important role in caring for cats in a system that often does not have enough resources to win the battle of homelessness. We can save one more cat from fear, worry about food, or predators. We can teach kitty what it feels like to eat, sleep, and play in a safe place.

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