How To Foster A Cat

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How To Foster A Cat

Did you know that according to ASPCA, approximately 3.2 million cats are surrendered to animal shelters each year in the U.S. alone?

Unfortunately, some of these kitties spend the rest of their lives in a shelter or have to be put to sleep.

However, luckily, about 1.6 million of these felines find a new loving home thanks to the wonderful job animal rescue teams are doing. 

If you’re a cat lover and you also want to help save these homeless little furballs, fostering cats could be an excellent way for you to offer a helping hand.

Still, fostering pets is not always an easy job. Therefore, it should be carefully considered before contacting a shelter and applying to become a cat foster parent.

We’re happy to see you are doing your research on how to foster a cat. Finding out everything you need to know before becoming a cat foster is a sign of being a responsible animal lover.

In this article, we will be telling you everything you need to know about fostering cats. But, first, let’s have a look at what it means to become a kitty foster parent.

Fostering A Cat

What Does It Mean To Foster A Cat?

Cats can be surrendered to shelters for many reasons. Sometimes families are not able to keep them anymore, while other times they can be homeless and living on the streets.

When cats are brought to the shelter, the rescue team starts looking for a suitable and permanent home for them. The process may take a while because often, it’s important to get to know the cat before deciding what type of home would be the best match for them.

Finding a new home and getting adopted may take anything from a few days to several months, and many shelters try to find foster homes for some of the kitties to live in during that time. Fostering is a good solution for many reasons:

Foster homes free up space at the shelter and help save more cats.

  • Placing a cat in foster care keeps them from becoming institutionalized at the shelter and learning bad habits. It’s easier to find a new home for a pet that has been living in a foster home and is used to living with people.
  • Cats that are old, timid, sick, or recovering from an injury are often better off in a foster home than in a shelter. 
  • Some cats will make excellent pets but don’t do well in a shelter. Foster homes are needed to help these animals thrive while they wait to be adopted.
  • Foster homes are an excellent way for the rescue team to learn more about an individual animal and their behavior. This helps the team find a good permanent home for the cat.

If you decide you want to become a foster, an animal shelter will place a cat with you while they look for a new home. The process may take weeks or months, and you must be ready to give up the kitty when a chance for adoption arises.

So, although fostering a pet can be a highly rewarding experience, there are many things you should be prepared for. Next, we’ll talk about everything you need to know before you become a cat foster parent.

What You Need To Know About Fostering Cats

Fostering a cat can be a gratifying experience. Not only are you saving cats and helping them get a second chance in life, but you’re usually also bonding with these adorable felines and receiving affection and cuddles as a reward for the work you’re doing.

However, you should keep in mind the hard part of having to say goodbye. It can be emotionally draining to let go of a beloved foster kitty, but knowing they are being placed in a permanent and loving home will help.

Cats can be placed in foster homes for just a short period, or it can be a long-term solution. Sometimes the rescue will ask you to commit for a certain amount of time, but often the foster animal will stay with you just until they find a new home.

What you should also know is that foster cats often have special circumstances:

  • Kittens may be placed in foster care until they are old enough to be spayed or neutered.
  • Pregnant females are also often fostered until they give birth, and the kittens can be weaned off and spayed or neutered.
  • Senior cats may need a higher level of care, which is why a foster home is often a better solution for them when compared to living at the shelter.
  • Cats with behavioral issues, traumatic experiences, or the need to be socialized will also be better off at a foster home.

Before applying to become a cat foster, you should ask yourself if you’re up to the task of giving a home to a cat with special needs. By being honest about what you can handle, you will help the rescue team pair you up with the right cat.

Responsibilities Of A Cat Foster Parent

When becoming a cat foster, you need to be able to provide a good, loving home – even if it’s only temporary. You will be expected to offer

  • A safe environment
  • A balanced diet
  • A clean litter box
  • Activities and playtime
  • Love and affection
  • A consistent routine
  • Training

In addition, you will probably be asked to report back to the rescue about how your cat is doing and what you have learned about their personality and behavior.

You may also be asked to help with the rehoming process by sending photos and videos or attending rehoming appointments with potential new owners.

Before becoming a foster, you will also need to consider whether you are able to cover the expenses of having a foster cat and if you have the time for it. 

Although cats are pretty independent creatures, moving into a new home can be very stressful, and you should be prepared to offer your time and affection to help them settle in.

If your life is busy and you’re not spending that much time at home, fostering is probably not something you should do.

You also need to have the financial means to take care of a cat and provide it with everything it needs.

But how much money do you actually need to have to foster a cat?

How Much Does It Cost To Foster A Cat?

Contrary to a common misbelief, fosters are not getting paid to take animals to their home and offer them shelter and food for sometimes even several months. Because most shelters are kept running on donations, the chances are they may only be able to offer you some cat food to take home with you.

Sometimes, the rescue may be able to provide things like a litter box, cat litter, and some of the other basic necessities.

However, you will have to be prepared to pay for the cat food that your foster cat needs during their stay, as well as cat litter, treats, and toys.

Although the rescue may not be able to cover all the expenses, they will usually offer all the support they can when it comes to behavior issues or training.

Usually, they will also take care of any veterinary expenses that may arise during the foster period.

Requirements For Cat Fosters

While many animal shelters will accept anyone with a love for animals as a foster, others have strict requirements.

Sometimes you may need just some experience with animals, but it’s not uncommon that you have to meet certain criteria to be accepted as a foster.

These requirements may include:

  • Not having other pets because foster cats may not be comfortable with other animals
  • Not having young kids because many foster cats are not used to children and may have a hard time adapting to kids.
  • Experience in taking care of cats
  • Not working long hours so your foster cat will not have to stay alone for long periods
  • Not having a busy lifestyle and home, because many foster cats are timid and insecure

The criteria you have to meet may seem tough, but it’s all for the best of the cats that are fostered. Moving to a new home is a huge change, and some cats may find it hard to adapt.

Young children, a busy home, other pets, or having to be alone for the majority of the day may negatively affect the cat, reducing its chances of being adopted.

How To Become A Cat Foster Parent

How To Foster A Cat

Now that you have learned about the responsibilities and costs of fostering a cat, it’s time to ask yourself if you really want to commit to it. If the answer is yes, then the next thing you’re probably wondering about is how to become a cat foster parent. Let’s find out.

  • Once you’ve decided that you have what it takes to offer a rescue cat a temporary home, it’s time to look for animal rescues in your area. ASPCA and Petfinder are some of the best resources for finding reputable shelters that look for foster homes.
  • When you have found a shelter you might like to work with, you should find out what kind of experiences other fosters have with working together with this facility and team. Talk to other fosters or search online for information about the shelter.
  • Next, it’s time to contact the animal shelter and see if you can visit them to talk more about fostering a cat. It’s good to have good and open communication to learn more about what they expect from cat fosters and what your expectations might be when it comes to fostering a cat.
  • When you’ve decided this is the shelter you want to work with, it’s time to fill out the application. You can expect the team to interview you at the shelter or on the phone to find out more about what kind of a foster home you can offer. Be prepared to answer questions about things like the size of your home, your daily routines, and your experience with cats. Although some of the questions may seem pretty personal, it’s very important for the rescue team to know exactly what kind of an environment you can provide for a cat to make sure you’re paired with an animal that matches your experience and lifestyle.

Once you have been accepted to become a foster parent to a kitty, you can soon expect to get a call about your first foster cat!

Then, all you have to do is to get ready for its arrival.

How To Prepare For Fostering A Cat

When your application has been accepted, it’s time to get ready. Although you may not yet have received any news on the individual you’re going to foster, you should be prepared to welcome a cat to your home any day. The rescue team often wants to place the cat as soon as possible, so you might find a cat living with you sooner than you think.

First of all, you should talk to the shelter to see if they will provide you with the basic necessities for the cat. Most rescues work with minimal budgets, so you might have to buy most of the things your cat needs yourself. On the other hand, animal shelters often get donations, so they might be able to provide you with some of the things you’re going to need.

At the minimum, you are going to need:

  • Cat food
  • Food and water bowl
  • Litter box and scoop
  • Cat litter
  • Toys
  • Treats

Many cats have sensitive stomachs, so it’s better to wait until you know the exact food your foster cat is used to before you buy any. Often, you will get some cat food to take home when you pick up your foster kitty. 

You will also be given instructions on how often and what type of food they are used to eating. By sticking to the same food and feeding schedule they are accustomed to, you can avoid tummy issues and help the foster cat settle down in your home.

Cats are also finicky about their cat litter, so you might want to hold off buying any before you know the specifics of what kind of litter your foster cat is comfortable with. It will help you avoid pee accidents in your home if you provide the cat with the same type of litter it is used to.

Later, you may want to buy things like a scratching post, brush, or hideout.

When you have all the necessary cat gear ready, it’s time to have a look around your home and make sure it is cat-proof.

  • Make sure you don’t have any poisonous plants in your home.
  • Keep all foods behind closed doors, as they may attract the cat to have a taste, and some human foods can be toxic to cats.
  • Cover the trash because it can contain things that are hazardous to cats.
  • Put away any household chemicals, detergents, or medications.
  • Cover up electric cords.
  • Tie up blind cords to prevent your cat from getting injured.

Next, all you have to do is to wait for a call to pick up your new furry feline friend.

Summing Up – How To Foster A Cat

We are happy to see you are considering fostering a cat. Not only is it a wonderful experience, but it also helps animal rescues save lives every single day.

By fostering a cat, you’re doing an amazing selfless act that will help one homeless kitty find a loving home for the rest of their life.

Although fostering a cat can be challenging, and giving up your beloved foster is always difficult, knowing that you are helping these adorable pets find a permanent home makes it all worthwhile.

Fostering a cat will give you many memories you can cherish for years to come.

Jill Caren CharityPaws

Jill Caren

Jill is an avid animal lover who spends her time helping animal rescues by photographing homeless pets and through her work on CharityPaws.

She is currently owned by Cleo, an American Pit Bull Terrier and Snoopy Cat. Her inspiration comes from her girls Ginger and Riley (RIP) – pit mix sisters who were loved family members for almost 15 years.

You can find her on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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