Fostering a Cat

Homeless kittens in a cage at the shelter. Pets

Fostering has so many benefits beyond giving a cat a temporary home while they wait for a permanent placement. Foster cats can enjoy more hands-on attention than they could receive in a busy shelter. Plus, they get a chance to acclimate to a loving home environment and learn appropriate behaviours.

When you care for a foster cat, you also open space and resources for another cat in need at the shelter. For these organizations, fostering can serve as a valuable resource to help them save as many cats as possible.
Additionally, fostering a cat can serve as a trial run for you and your family. You get to experience the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of pet care first-hand, including providing their meals and cleaning up after their messes. It’s a useful way to help decide if you’re ready to have a cat in your home for the long haul.

Quiz: is fostering a cat a good idea?

Try this short quiz to see if taking in a foster cat will make your motor run. Give yourself 1 purr for yes and 0 for no.

1. Do you have experience caring for cats?

Yes (1 purr) or No (0 purrs)

2. Are you up for responsibilities like feeding them a healthy diet, making sure they get enough exercise, and scooping the litter box?
Yes (1 purr) or No (0 purrs)

3. Are you open to loving cuddles together on the couch?

Yes (1 purr) or No (0 purrs)

Tally your score for your answer:

3 purrs: It seems like you’re ready and able to bring a foster cat into your home. Reach out to a local shelter to find out more about the process.
1 to 2 purrs: You should think carefully about what’s needed to care for a foster cat and make sure you’re up to the task. It can be helpful to talk to friends or family who have fostered cats to hear about their experiences.
0 purrs: Taking in a foster cat doesn’t seem to be the best choice for you, at least right now—and there’s nothing wrong with that. You may want to consider other ways to help shelter cats, such as donating supplies or volunteering your time.

What to ask the shelter before fostering

The most important things needed for fostering a cat are a welcoming home with ample space and a commitment to taking great care of them. If you live with family members or roommates, you’ll need to get their buy-in, especially if you want them to pitch in on tasks.

The process and requirements provided by foster programs vary by shelter. Make sure you know what’s expected by getting answers to questions like these:

  • How long will you need to foster the cat? Time commitments can range from weeks to months, depending on the foster program and the cat’s situation.
  • Will they give you supplies? Some shelters will send you home with a foster cat starter kit that contains essentials like litter and bowls.
  • Do they cover veterinary expenses? Find out the shelter’s policy on reimbursing you for health care needs, including emergencies and routine care.
  • You’ll also want to understand the protocol for accidents and illnesses. For instance, the shelter may require that you take the cat to an onsite or preferred veterinary clinic.

Once you’ve selected a shelter, they’ll have you fill out a foster application, which typically includes information about your living situation. They’ll want to ensure they’re placing the cat in a safe, comfortable home and that you’re able to properly care for them.

How to Get a Foster Cat Adopted

You have an opportunity to introduce your foster cat to lots of potential adoptees. Tell your friends, family members, and neighbors about your foster cat. Invite them over to meet your four-legged friend, and post pictures, videos and stories about them on your social media accounts.

How Long Do You Foster a Cat?

The time commitment for fostering a cat varies by program and the needs of the cat. For instance, the shelter may ask you to foster the cat for a minimum of 8 weeks. If the cat is sick or injured, you might have to care for them until they’ve regained their strength. Kittens usually stay in a foster home until they’re old enough for adoption.

Can I Adopt a Foster Cat?

The goal of fostering a cat is to provide them with a temporary home, but some cat foster parents get smitten and don’t want to part with their kitten. Before you foster a cat, talk to the shelter about their adoption policies, so you know what to expect if this situation arises.

While shelters typically allow foster parents to adopt, they may ask you to make that decision before the cat is officially put up for adoption. Also, keep in mind that adopting your foster cat likely means your home will be closed to future fosters.

We hope this helped you see just how rewarding fostering a cat is! While taking on a cat can be a great way to see if you are ready for the full-time commitment, it will also benefit so many lives: yours, your foster cat and another cat that can be rescued because there’s a free spot!

Originally posted on an external publication