Did you know you can save more than one life when you foster a cat? Many shelters and rescues have foster programs that place cats in homes rather than in kennels at the shelter. Not only is fostering life-saving for those who need additional care, but you can have a wonderful time in the process. Cat foster programs are a great way to help out and enrich your life, as well as the cats you work with. Keep reading to learn more and how much fun it can be, especially when kittens are involved!
Is It a Good Idea to Foster a Cat?
Fostering a cat helps free up shelter space for other cats in need. So, yes, it’s a good idea to foster because you’re saving the lives of more than one cat. You’re opening up shelter space that might not otherwise be available when you invite a cat into your home.
When homeless, neglected, or abused cats don’t have access to a shelter due to overcrowding, they may not make it. When stray cats are without a home base, they face an increased risk of predators and diseases.
And as a bonus, fostering a cat may improve your life! Check out Jackson Galaxy’s video below on how fostering changed his life, and how it could change yours.
“But I’d Keep Them All!”
Many people shy away from fostering cats or dogs because they are afraid they’d get too attached and would keep all of them. These people feel a sense of tremendous sadness for all shelter animals and avoid getting into a situation where their emotions will take over their decision-making.
We totally understand this and have been there too. However, there is a beautiful thing about fostering.
As Hannah Shaw says, “Goodbye is the goal.”
It can be useful to think of fostering as a job. Your job is to care for them, help them socialize, get over their illness, injury, or another hurdle, and then deliver them to their new home better than they came to you.
The joy of fostering is in the end result: building families, making people’s dreams come true, and seeing animals placed in loving homes that adore them.
How Do You Foster a Cat?
Ready to get started? You can foster a cat by contacting a rescue organization or local shelter. We put together a guide for pet adoption websites, many of which also have foster programs.
Petfinder is one of the most popular websites, a searchable database with a directory of approximately 11,000 animal shelters.
But we highly recommend getting to know your area’s shelters and their needs. We can almost guarantee that your community is in need of more awesome foster homes for cats and dogs. If they have a foster program, ask about the requirements to see if it’s right for you.
Some Cats Really Need Fostering
Many rescue organizations have robust foster programs where all animals stay in homes rather than in a shelter. But most animal shelters need homes for special cases as well. So, consider if you might have the capacity to help a cat in one of these categories.
Newborn kittens needing a foster home are typically found on the street. Or brought to a shelter by someone who can’t handle them. If the mom is present, it is best to send them into a quiet foster home where the momma cat can care for her babies in peace until they are old enough for weaning. If the mom isn’t present, early separation from the mother requires special care and feeding by the foster parent.
Sick or injured cats requiring extra care can be time-consuming, taking scarce resources from shelters with numerous animals to care for. These animals are likely to heal faster in a loving home with one-on-one attention from a foster parent. If you have the ability to help a sick or injured cat, contact your local shelter to let them know. They’ll likely keep you on a list if they receive any special needs cats.
Extremely shy or stressed-out cats are sometimes overlooked by would-be adopters. But it may be the situation that’s causing them anxiety. Foster parents can help socialize these cats and bring their true personalities to the surface, making them easier to adopt out. Consider giving one of these cats a home where they can come into their own and be nurtured. A loving home can change a cat and make it calmer.
How Do You Prepare to Bring a Foster Cat Home?
If you’ve never had a cat before or don’t have one currently, there are some things you should do before starting your foster journey. Preparing to bring a foster cat home requires some simple yet deliberate steps, from cat-proofing your house to stocking up on necessary supplies.
Cat Proof Your House
First, cat-proof your house if you don’t already have feline friends in your house. Remove any objects that a new cat may destroy or that may harm it. For example, put lids on trash cans and keep loose valuables out of reach that a cat may use as a toy. And if there are any rooms you want off limits to the cat, make a plan to keep the door shut.
Purchase Cat Supplies
When you foster a cat, you’ll need to provide basic supplies. For example, food, treats, toys, a litter box, and a scratch pad are all must-haves for feline friends.
We recommend asking the foster organization if the cat is on a special diet. You’ll also want to observe the cat to determine if it prefers an open or closed litter box. Start with one and adjust if necessary.
Assign a Designated Place for the Litter Box and Food and Water
Assign a designated place for the litter box, so the cat remembers where it is. And if you already have felines in the house, give your foster cat its own litter box. The same should be done for food and water. You may consider keeping the cat in one room for a few days with the litter box, food, and water. Also, this can help it adjust to the new environment.
Determine How You’ll Transport the Cat Home
Taking a foster cat home can be nerve-wracking for both of you. Determine if you’ll transport it in a crate, on someone’s lap in the car, or allow it to roam freely. For stressed-out cats, a crate for the first car ride is preferable. However, you may want to consider a test drive in the parking lot or around the block to observe how it does in a vehicle.
Check out our complete guide to bringing a new cat home!
Where Should My Foster Cat Sleep?
We recommend creating a place for your foster cat to sleep near its litter box, food, and water. At least for the first week or so until you’re more familiar with its behaviors. Remember that, eventually, the cat will go to its forever home. So, when you determine where it will sleep, think of it in light of training for its adoptive parents.
If possible, it may be helpful to have a large enough kennel to fit the litter box, food, and water inside. This way, you can keep the foster cat contained and provide them with a safe space that’s their own, at least for the first few days until they adjust.
How Much of My Time Is Required for a Foster Cat?
Foster cats may be in your home for a weekend to several months. The timetable varies greatly depending on the situation and pool of adoptive pet parents.
The daily time required for a foster cat varies. For example, if you foster a kitten or sick pet, you’ll likely need to schedule a more significant amount of time to allow for care. So, it’s essential to know how much time and energy you have to devote before fostering an animal.
Can I Adopt My Foster Cat?
Let’s be honest; rescue organizations love it when foster parents adopt. Providing cats with homes and saving the lives of even more cats is the goal. However, keep in mind that if you adopt, you may not be as capable to foster and help more animals in the future. But if you find an animal that clicks with your heart, you can absolutely adopt it.
We recommend reviewing the policies and adoption process of the organization you’re working with to know the procedure for moving from foster to adoptive parent. Each program and shelter may have different steps and fees associated with adoption. In addition, it never hurts to fill out an application for when you’re ready to adopt.
Fostering a Cat Is Fun and It Saves Lives and Frees Up Shelter Space
Fostering a cat is fun! With the bonus of saving animals’ lives, bringing a cat into your home can bring you more joy than you knew was possible. And it brings a lot of relief and gratitude to shelters needing space to take in more pets.
In addition, overcrowded shelters are not safe or healthy environments for animals. You can help change that by providing a safe and healthy home for foster cats.
Have you considered fostering a cat?