So you love cats and want to help them find loving homes. Have you ever thought of cat fostering? As the name suggests, it means being a cat’s “for now” family, so the animal rescue organization has time to find the feline’s forever home. Fostering is a way to support animal rescue in its mission to connect happy, healthy cats with loving families.
Why does our rescue foster cats and kittens?
When we rescue an adult cat, we do not want to send cats to overcrowded shelters where they may be euthanized or adopted to an unfit home and we haven't found their forever home yet, so we need a temporary home.
Some cats have special medical needs, such as recent surgery, and need a quiet home that is less stressful for the cat and allows them to recuperate before being released back to the neighborhood they were found or placed with a forever home.
Finally, there’s kitten care, which is a specialty area. When a nest of newborn kittens is discovered and brought in, animal groups often don’t have the time and staff to provide the round-the-clock care kittens need to thrive. Bottle feeding kittens is rewarding, and the kittens are undeniably cute. But keep in mind that it’s exhausting, demanding work.
What are the benefits of fostering cats?
The U.S. is home to 30 million to 40 million feral cats, which produce 80 percent of the kittens, according to the Humane Society. Some of these are lost and abandoned pets; living outside shortens their lives. There’s a shortage of space and shelter to handle them all. Shelters take in some 3.2 million homeless cats a year, says the ASPCA. Of these, 860,000 are euthanized, while only 90,000 are returned to their owners.
On top of that, there’s the heartbreaking reality that some people see cat lives as disposable and easily replaced. (Just ask someone who works in animal welfare, and they’ll tell you tragic tales of abandonment.)
However, by choosing to become a volunteer cat foster parent, you can save lives.
A cat that stays in a home environment gets real-life socialization and affection so it can develop positive relationships with humans as well as other animals living at the house.
Compared to a shelter, a home that provides space and stimulation cats need is more conducive to letting cats be cats. It allows their natural personalities to come out, so the animal organization can match them with the perfect family.
Unlike most sources of “free” cats, a reputable rescue and shelter uses certain best practices before they re-home a cat. That means cats get spayed or neutered, vaccinated, possibly microchipped, and have been examined by a veterinarian before they’re placed in a permanent home.
Homes with animals are eligible
Already have pets, particularly a cat? That shouldn’t be a barrier to taking in a foster cat, especially if you have ample space to house them in separate areas of the house if you needed to. In fact, when your foster first arrives, you’ll want to do just that, so both can acclimate to “the other cat.” While this blog is about cats that aren’t getting along, it contains plenty of useful tips that will give you everything you need to introduce new cats in a way that lets them do so on their terms, their timelines.
What to expect when fostering cats
Fostering cats is both a time and an emotional commitment. Before you take in the cat (or kittens), make sure you understand what is entailed:
This is a time commitment.
As with having any pet in your home, things may get broken.
You may need to spend some of your own money on the foster pet. Since we are a small rescue, foster homes will need to provide food, litter, beds, and food/water bowls.
It can be sad but is also very rewarding.