If you’re considering adopting a cat but aren’t sure if you’re ready to make the commitment, you may want to try fostering. Here are 4 reasons you should become a cat foster:
1. It’s your chance to ‘test-drive’ cat ownership before making a 10 to 20-year commitment.
Perhaps you aren’t sure what kind of cat would fit best with your lifestyle and personality. Fostering is your chance to find out if you prefer a laid-back, lazy older cat or an inquisitive, curious kitten! Chances are, you’ll quickly learn what kind of kitty fits perfectly into your home – and you may be inclined to adopt one of your fosters!
2. Fostering saves lives.
Over four million cats and dogs are killed in shelters every year due to overcrowding. When you foster, you give rescue groups the ability to save more pets from being put to sleep. What’s more, animals that are nervous, shy, sick, nursing, undergoing treatment, or elderly do not do well in a shelter environment. But, they can thrive in the quiet, nurturing home environment that a foster can provide!
3. Fostering makes cats more adoptable.
Living with a foster family is superior to living in a shelter prior to adoption for many reasons! It’s less stressful for the cat, so the cat is much less likely to develop behavioral issues. Additionally, as a foster parent, you can assess the cat’s true temperament to help place her with an appropriate adoptive family. For example, is she outgoing, friendly with kids, what are her favorite toys, and does she get along with other animals? Rescue cats that are kept in shelters often don’t have the ability to display their true nature to potential adopters.
Also, if a cat has been rescued from an abusive situation or has never lived in a home environment, a foster family can socialize a cat before she’s adopted.
4. Fostering feels good.
Imagine watching your foster cat transition from a scared, skittish, or sickly animal into a vibrant and flourishing member of the family, full of trust and ready for a permanent adoptive family! When you foster, you enrich three lives – your’s, the cat’s, and the future adoptive family’s – and that feels really good.
What to Expect When You Foster a Cat:
First, you’ll need a place where you can isolate your foster kitty, should you have other animals in your home. Ideally, it should be a separate room or enclosed space. You’ll need to keep your foster separated from your other animals for a period of time until they’re properly introduced.
You’ll need to provide the basic supplies, like litter, food and water, and bedding. Sometimes these expenses will be reimbursed by the rescue group. Keep your receipts, because your fostering expenses can be tax deductible!
Some supplies that will be useful:
- Food dishes (Beware of ‘whisker stress’ and choose wide, shallow dishes)
- Food (Ask the rescue group what they recommend!)
- Treats (Check out USA-Made cat treats)
- Carrier (Let kitty use it as a safe place to hide when you aren’t traveling!)
- Lots of Cat Toys (We suggest both catnip toys and interactive toys & brain teasers)
- Kitchen Scale (If you foster kittens and need to monitor weight gain)
- Enzymatic Cleaner (to clean up any accidents if kittens are learning litter habits)
Monitor your foster cat’s health. Pay attention to signs of illness. If your foster is one that is recovering from sickness, or is elderly or very young, pay extra close attention. Veterinary care should be provided by the rescue group at their expense, so keep in close contact with the rescue group’s vet or the shelter for medical care.
Be emotionally prepared to return the cat once your foster period is over. This can be one of the most challenging aspects of fostering, but also the most rewarding! Just remember that your foster cat is entering a loving forever home because of YOU! And now, should you choose to, you’re ready to open your home and your heart up to another needy foster cat.
If you decide that fostering isn’t for you but you still want to help, here’s a collection of items that rescues always need donated. Of course, they can always use a helping hand at the shelter, too.
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