What Does It Mean to Foster Cats?

By: Talin Seta Shahinian

Fostering a cat means taking care of a cat who doesn’t have a forever home yet. Fostering means pledging to house and care for a cat for a specific period of time or until it is adopted. There are many reasons that cats and kittens need fostering. Shelters and rescue organizations usually don’t have enough space to house and care for all the felines in need. The Humane Society usually has some paid employees, but the rest are volunteer staff. Cat rescue organizations are usually solely volunteer-run. Foster parents with open homes and hearts supplement their tireless work.

How Do You Become a Cat Foster Parent?

To start becoming a cat foster, you’ll need to contact your local shelter or cat rescue organization. They’ll most likely have an application form for you to fill out. It will gather information about you, your household, and any other pets you may already have in order to determine the right foster cat or kitten for you. If you’re equipped to handle it, sometimes an entire litter of kittens needs fostering, too, with or without their nursing Mother. You’d need to be up for a bunch of cuteness and a fair bit of mayhem!

What You Need To Know Before You Foster

Fostering is a time and labor commitment, but it also involves some expenses. In some cases, a rescue organization or shelter may help with some of the costs, but you may need to purchase food and water bowls, cat food, a litter box, litter, and other basic cat care supplies if you don’t already have them. At the outset, you should ask the shelter or rescue organization if you will be responsible for the cost of any vet care needed during the time you are fostering.

You need to do some soul searching too, and determine if you have the patience for fostering. Some cats may have behavioral issues, especially at first. Some of these problems may be temporary if stemming from fear, anxiety, or an illness being treated, but you must have the kind of temperament to deal with any issues that may arise. Free time is also a factor; if you’re already over-extended in your daily life, it’s probably not the right time for you to take on the extra responsibilities that come with fostering. Donate to a rescue group instead!

The Right Environment For Fostering

The makeup of your household also requires some consideration. For example, some cats are already timid and skittish and may not do well in a house with small children and a lot of noise. You need to consider the temperaments of any other pets you already have in your household as well. A big, rambunctious dog and a litter of tiny kittens may not mix well. If your pets are compatible, you have to make sure they’re all up to date on all their vaccinations, for their safety, and to ensure the health of your fosters.

You’ll also need to have some available space in your home to isolate your foster cat or kitten from your other pets, either temporarily or for the fostering duration. The reason for this is that your foster cat may not yet have all their vaccinations done, or they may just need a quiet place to be by themselves to adjust. Your foster may come from an environment where they were stressed; even the best shelters can be overwhelming for cats. A separate area will also give you a place to hang out with your foster kitty without distractions.

Bonding With Your New Buddy

It’s essential to spend one-on-one time with your foster cat or kitten to build trust. It also helps with their socialization, making them more likely to be adopted. At first, to not intimidate your foster cat, you shouldn’t bombard them with a lot of people and activity. Don’t force affection on them either. Cats need to come around at their own pace. Giving them food, water, and keeping their litter box clean helps keep them calm. Your presence should be consistent and receptive. Be willing to wait for them to make the first move.

To Foster Or Adopt? That Is The Question!

You’ve been fostering for a while, and by now, you’ve bonded with your foster cat or kitten. You’re starting to wonder if you can bear to part with them. This is known among cat rescuers as a “foster fail.” You’re so attached to the foster kitty that you want to adopt them yourself! It’s definitely a happy ending that your new kitten or cat has found their forever home, so fostering wasn’t a “fail” after all, as the goal was adoption. Congratulations, and enjoy your feline friend! I’m sure they’re equally happy to have found you!

If you live in NW Wisconsin, Purple Cat Mobile Vet Clinic is here to help you keep your cat healthy and happy. We are a high-quality, high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinic. We see cats exclusively. Find information for scheduling on our www.purplecatvet.com website. You can also look on our Facebook page for more helpful information on all things feline!


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