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fostering cats

The Fostering Cats Handbook: You Can Help Kitties in Need!

We all love our cats and feel like they are a part of the family. But what happens when there is an influx of kitties in the area and rescue shelters become overwhelmed with an excess amount of cats? That’s where fostering comes in. Fostering cats can be a great way to help out your local community, save cat’s lives, and possibly even find your next fur-ever friend.

“Fostering cats is a process through which an individual or family takes responsibility for socializing and re-homing a cat or kitten until it is ready for adoption.” – The ShelterPetProject.org

Before you jump into fostering, there are a few things you should know. This fostering cats handbook will walk you through everything you need to get started, from finding a local rescue shelters to preparing your home for a foster cat to caring for your foster kitty and eventually finding them a forever home.

why foster cats

Why Should You Foster Cats?

Fostering cats can be a truly rewarding experience. Not only will you be helping care for a cat in need, but you’ll also be giving them a chance to eventually find loving cat parents. Fostering allows you to connect with other cat lovers and learn more about cat care. Plus, fostering can be flexible to fit your schedule and lifestyle. So if you’re thinking about fostering cats, there are many practical and caring reasons to do so…

For one, fostering helps to socialize cats so they can be better adjusted to living in a home. This is especially important for kittens, who need to learn how to interact with people and other animals.

Are you ready to welcome a cat or kitten into your home? Fostering also provides a temporary home for cats who have been displaced due to homelessness, illness, or other circumstances. This gives them a chance to rest and recuperate in a safe, loving environment until they are ready to be adopted.

It is a fantastic opportunity to reduce the number of cats being euthanized in shelters. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), approximately 3.4 million cats enter U.S. shelters each year. Of those, approximately 2.7 million are euthanized.

“Fostering is one of the most important things an individual can do to help reduce the number of animals euthanized in shelters each year.” – The Humane Society of the United States.

Finally, fostering is a wonderful way to get involved in your local animal rescue community. By opening your home to cats in need, you can make a truly significant difference in their lives!

foster cats are not perfect

Foster Cats Aren't Always Perfect

Sometimes rescue shelters can be overwhelmed with the number of animals they need to care for. When this happens, they may reach out to individuals and families in the community who can provide foster care for some of their animals.

While most cats involve no extra attention other than love, care, and good food, some may require a bit more time and effort. The type of cat you foster will depend on the rescue shelter’s needs as well as your own preferences and abilities.

Here are some examples of unique situations which can require further commitment:

Cats Who Need Socialization

Many cats who come into shelters are not used to being around people and require some time to socialize before they can be put up for adoption. These stressed or shy cats may need a foster home where they can learn to trust people and feel comfortable around them.

Kittens

Many shelters do not have the resources to care for very young kittens, so fostering them is crucial to their survival. Kittens require more care than adult cats, so if you’re thinking about fostering kittens be prepared to bottle feed, administer medicine, and provide around-the-clock care.

Pregnant or Nursing Mothers

Mother cats who are pregnant or nursing their young often need foster care. These mother cats, known as “queens,” may need help caring for their young until they are old enough to be spayed or neutered and put up for adoption.

Recovering Cats

Sick or injured adult cats may typically need time to recuperate in a quiet, stress-free environment before they are well enough to be adopted. They may also need medication or other special care.

Senior Cats

Older cats often have a hard time getting adopted, so fostering can give them a break from the shelter surroundings and provide some extra TLC. If they’re healthy and have no problems, they can make great foster cats!

Terminal Cats

Certain cats in their senior years who are not expected to live much longer, typically due to a fatal illness or age-related issues, can benefit from a quiet place to spend their final days in comfort and peace.

Special Needs Cats

Those cats who are FIV positive, blind, deaf, have diabetes, or some type of anxiety disorder are often overlooked by adopters and may call for a foster home that can provide them with the love and care they need.

thinking about fostering cats

Things to Consider Before Fostering Cats

You should understand what fostering entails and be prepared to commit to taking care of your foster cat or cats until they are adopted. This may be a few weeks, a few months, or even longer. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide how long you are willing and able to foster a cat.

“Fostering is not for everyone, and that’s okay. It takes a very special person to foster an animal because it can be emotionally difficult to open up your home and then say goodbye.” – Alley Cat Allies

That being said, here are 10 questions you should ask yourself before attempting to foster cats:

Are you really ready to welcome a cat or kitten into your home?

Sometimes people get too excited about fostering and jump into it without knowing what they’re getting themselves into. Fostering is a big responsibility and if you’re not prepared, you could be in for a lot of challenges.

Do you have enough time?

Caring for a foster cat or kitten takes time and effort. You will need to feed them, clean their litter box, and provide them with love and attention. Kittens will require even more time and effort, as they need to be bottle-fed and monitored around the clock.

Do you have the energy?

Caring for a cat can be physically demanding, especially if you are fostering kittens. Kittens need to be fed every few hours, and they often require a lot of playtime. If you don’t think you can handle the physical demands of fostering, it’s best to wait until you’re ready.

Do you have enough space?

Cats want a place to call their own, so you’ll need to have some extra space in your home for them to hang out. If you live in a small apartment or home, fostering may not be the right fit for you.

Do you have the financial means?

Fostering a cat or kitten is not free. You will need to pay for their food, litter, and any medical care they may need. Some fostering organizations may reimburse you for these expenses, but others may not. Make sure you have the financial means to care for a foster cat before you commit to fostering one.

Do you have other pets?

If you have other pets, they will need to be introduced to the foster cat slowly and carefully. Dogs will need to be kept separated from the foster cat at first, and all animals should be vaccinated before the introduction process begins.

Are you a neat-freak?

Let’s face it, cats can get out of control at times. They may scratch up your furniture, knock over your plants, or be quite messy with their litter box. If you’re not prepared to deal with a bit of chaos or the thought of having a disorderly home makes your skin crawl, then fostering may not be right for you.

Do you understand the commitment?

Fostering a cat is a temporary arrangement, but it’s important to be aware that you may be fostering the cat for several weeks or months. You should only commit to fostering if you are prepared for the long term.

Do you have the support of your family or roommates?

Everyone in your household should be on board with fostering a cat before you bring one home. This includes small children, who should be taught how to interact with the cat in a gentle and respectful way.

Will you be prepared to say goodbye?

When the time comes, you will need to say goodbye to your foster cat. This can be difficult and sometimes emotional, but it’s important to remember that you are giving them a chance at a better life.

cat fostering tips

Essential Cat Fostering Tips

If you’re still interested in fostering cats, then congrats! You’re on the way to becoming a foster parent. Here are some helpful tips to help get you started:

  • Find a reputable fostering organization: Not all fostering organizations are created equal. Some may have high standards for their foster parents, while others may be more relaxed. Do your research to find an organization that you’re comfortable with.

  • Attend a foster training: Most fostering organizations will require you to attend a foster training. This is where you’ll learn about the ins and outs of fostering, and it will give you a chance to ask any questions you may have.

  • Get your home ready: Before you bring your foster cat home, you’ll need to make some preparations. This includes setting up a litter box, buying food and toys, and creating a safe space for them to stay.

  • Introduce your other pets slowly: If you have other pets, they will need to be introduced to the foster cat slowly and carefully. Dogs will need to be kept separated from the foster cat at first, and all animals should be vaccinated before the introduction process begins.

  • Be prepared for medical emergencies: Foster cats may come with medical conditions that you’re not familiar with. It’s important to be prepared for this and to have a plan in place in case of an emergency.

  • Be patient: It’s important to remember that foster cats are often coming from difficult situations. They may be scared, confused, and hesitant at first. It will take time for them to adjust, so be patient.

  • Keep communication open: Fostering can be a worthwhile experience, but it’s not always easy. Be sure to keep communication open with your fostering organization, and don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it.

  • Set boundaries: As a foster parent, it’s important to set boundaries with your fostering organization. This includes things like how many cats you’re willing to foster at one time, and what type of care you’re willing to provide.

  • Have realistic expectations: Even though fostering can offer emotional satisfaction, it’s important to be practical about your anticipation. Fostering is not always easy, and this means being prepared for the fact that some foster cats may not be adoptable.

  • Be flexible: The fostering process can be unpredictable, so it’s important to be flexible. You may need to change your plans at the last minute, or you may need to deal with a challenging situation. Be prepared for anything, and be willing to adjust your plans as needed.

cat fostering process

The Cat Fostering Process

There’s usually a few simple steps when applying to become a foster parent:

  • The potential foster fills out an application with their chosen organization to provide information about their home, lifestyle, and fostering experience.
  • The organization will conduct a home visit to make sure the environment is fostering-friendly and that the animal will have a safe place to stay.
  • The organization normally performs a background check to be sure the applicant is fostering for the right reasons and doesn’t have a history of animal cruelty.
  • The foster parent attends a training session so they know exactly what to expect and are fully prepared for the fostering process.
  • The foster signs a contract which outlines their responsibilities and the expectations of both the foster and the organization.
  • The foster parent is given the basic supplies needed to care for their foster cat.
  • The cat or kitten is placed in the foster’s care and they provide a temporary home until the feline is ready for adopting.
life with foster cats

Life With Your New Foster Cat

When you finally have your foster cat home with you, it can be such a relief but now is not the time to relax. Yes, you have saved a life and given this cat or kitten a second chance however, the real adventure is about to begin.

Your life will now be filled with lots of love, laughter, and perhaps some tears along the way but in the end, it’s all worth it when you see the little fuzzballs grow and blossom into the beautiful felines they were always meant to be.

What to expect with your new furry foster at home…

Litter Box Training

The first thing you need to do is set up a litter box for your new arrival. You will want to use a cat litter that is low dust and odor as some foster cats can be sensitive to smells.

Place the box in an area that is quiet and easily accessible. Once your cat is used to their new home, you can move the box to a more convenient location.

Litter Box Maintenance

Scoop the litter box every day to keep it fresh and sanitary. Remove any solid waste and throw it away in a sealed garbage bag.

You should empty the litter box every couple weeks or whenever you deem necessary. Use warm, soapy water and rinse it thoroughly. Allow it to air dry completely before adding new litter.

Food and Feeding Times

Your foster cat will need to eat once or twice a day, although kittens may need to eat more often. It is best to feed them wet food as it is higher in protein and moisture content than dry food. Kittens under 4 months old should eat canned kitten food, while adult cats can eat regular canned cat food.

Water is just as important as food and you should always have a bowl of fresh water available for your foster cat.

Sleeping Arrangements

Cats love to sleep and can spend up to 16 hours a day (or more) snoozing. Provide your foster cat with a comfortable bed or blanket in a quiet area of the house.

Your Cat's Behavior

Kittens under 4 months old are full of energy and love to play. They are also very curious and will want to explore every nook and cranny of your home.

Adult cats tend to be more relaxed and mellow. They may like to lounge around and take naps or watch the world go by from a sunny spot in the house.

Cats of all ages love to scratch and sharpen their claws. This is important for their good health. You should provide your cat with a scratching post or cat tree to scratch to their heart’s content.

Socialization

Some cats are shy and take time to warm up to new people, while others are outgoing and love nothing more than a good cuddle.

Regardless of your cat’s personality, it is important to socialize them as much as possible. This means introducing them to new people, situations, and experiences in a slow and gentle way.

Playtime and Exercise

All cats love to play, no matter what their age. Playing with your cat not only strengthens the bond between you both, it also provides them with necessary mental and physical stimulation, along with burning off all that excess energy.

There are many different types of cat toys available and you can even make your own. A simple piece of string or a crumpled up piece of paper can be enough to keep your cat entertained for hours. Try feather wands and laser pointers too.

Grooming

Cats are fastidious groomers and spend a large part of their day licking themselves clean. However, they still need our help to keep them looking and feeling their best.

Brushing your cat’s fur on a weekly basis will remove loose hair, dirt, and debris. It helps reduce shedding and keeps the coat looking shiny and healthy.

Cats also need their nails trimmed regularly. You can do this yourself or take your cat to the vet or groomer.

Veterinarian Visits

As a foster parent, you are responsible for taking your cat to the vet for check-ups and vaccinations. Kittens need to go to the vet more often than adult cats.

Bonding with Your Foster Cat

The bond you share with your foster cat is special and unique. It will take time for them to trust and feel comfortable around you, but it will be worth the wait. Here are some tips on how to build a strong relationship with your foster cat:

  • Spend time each day slowly petting and brushing them.

  • Talk to them in a soft, soothing voice.

  • Offer them treats and toys that they can play with.

  • Give them a safe place to hide if they feel scared or overwhelmed.

  • Most importantly, be patient and give them the time they need to adjust to their new home.

By showing your foster cat love and care, you will soon develop a strong bond with them that will last a long time.

Love and Affection

Cats show their love and affection in many different ways. Some may headbutt you or purr loudly when you pet them, while others may prefer to curl up on your lap or sleep next to you at night.

However they choose to express their love, cherish every moment and know that you have made a difference in their lives.

Adoption Time

When it’s finally time for your foster cat to be adopted, it is natural to feel sad and even a little bit attached. Just remember that you’ve done an amazing thing by giving them a second chance at life and they will always hold a special place in your heart!

Cat Fostering Resources

Final Thoughts

So, if you’re thinking of fostering a cat, I hope this article has helped to clear up any questions or concerns you may have. Fostering is a great way to help out a needy cat (or cats) and can be extremely rewarding for both the feline and human members of your household.

I would like to remind my readers that if they are interested in fostering a cat, the quickest way to find information is from your local shelters and rescue groups.

And finally, I want to sincerely thank my readers for their interest in helping homeless cats by giving them loving homes through foster care. Thank you so much for your caring nature and selfless dedication!

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Our Siamese Rescue
Our Happy Girl Today

Hello and welcome! I’m a genuine cat lover and devoted parent of two adorable kitties. As you can see, cat adoption is meaningful for me. I believe it’s a humane and loving option. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the people who operate rescue shelters. To show my gratitude for their selfless dedication, I’ve designed this website to help enlighten potential feline owners and raise awareness for cat adoption. Please join me and other cat lovers in our efforts to ensure every kitty has a happy, healthy life!

Please consider adoption. So many cats need loving homes. You can be their hero! Visit No-Kill Rescue Shelters

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