The Truth About Fostering Cats

Being a cat foster-parent is a great service that benefits both the foster parent and the foster animal. This mutually beneficial relationship offers a home to an otherwise homeless or worse, euthanized, kitty while providing the foster home with some welcome visitors. Another great reason to foster is so that you can “try out” a pet before committing to being its forever home. Lots of people are curious about fostering, but not everyone knows how it works.

Many people don’t know why a cat would require foster care. Animals that require foster care are normally animals that will be perfectly ready for adoption, but need some time before they can be back in the shelter for a variety of reasons.

Some of the main reasons that a cat would be placed in a foster home are:

The cat has an injury: Many times, all a cat needs to be ready to go up for adoption is a simple medical procedure. In this case, a foster home would be ideal for the time that it takes the pet to be back in good health. The foster parent will willingly assist with postoperative therapy and getting the animal all required medications. In this case, you would be assisting the animal until they were back in good health and a spot opens up at your local shelter. Fostering an injured animal is a commitment that requires time, energy, and dedication. The shelter will help you learn everything that you need to know about providing care for the animal.

The cat is nursing kittens: If a cat has come into the shelter with kittens or has given birth to a litter very recently, spending time in a foster home could keep the kittens and mother safe. Shelters house all kinds of animals, and although they are usually clean and sanitary, they aren’t the best place to nurture babies. Recent cat mothers need a tidy, calm, and attentive environment to successfully raise her kittens. The stress that a new cat mother faces trying to raise her kittens in a shelter could harm her litter and herself.

FriendshipThe kittens are too young to be up for adoption: If the shelter comes across a litter of kittens that is missing their mother, they may need to live in a foster home to receive the proper attention necessary in order for them to grow up in a healthy environment. The foster parent may have to nurse the kittens, depending on how young they are. In this case, you’ll need to provide an adequate environment and build a comfortable space for the kittens to grow. The other reason why kittens would need to be fostered is that they are too young to be spayed or neutered and therefore can’t be placed in the shelter yet. Kittens are easily adopted out of shelters, so once they’ve grown old enough to be operated on, they’ll likely return to the shelter and be adopted quickly.

The people that are adopting the cat aren’t ready yet: Sometimes adoptees find the right animal for them, but they aren’t in an immediate place to best accommodate the animal. In this case, a foster home could do the trick. If you’re fostering a committed animal, you must be prepared to let them go. In all other cases, it is entirely possible to end up adopting your foster animal. When they are already dedicated to new owners, you’ll have to give the animal up at some point.

What happens if I become attached?

If you become attached to your foster pet, you have two options. You can either become a “failed foster” and adopt your foster pet full-time, or convince yourself to let the animal be adopted. Unless the foster pet in question is in foster care until their dedicated adoptees are ready, foster pets are more than welcome to be adopted by their foster parents. Many foster parents become attached to their foster pets and the goodbyes are often filled with tears. However, the feeling that a foster parent gets from providing a home and family to a homeless animal outweighs the pain of letting go of the animal that you’ve grown attached to.

What if they don’t get along with my other pets?

Two Persians in front of a white backgroundIf you have pets and hope to foster animals, you should make sure that your pets are well-socialized and able to deal with visitors in their home. However, even the most perfect pets sometimes butt heads with other animals. In this case, the shelter will do everything that they can in order to restore peace and protect all animals involved. Just in case, you’ll want to make sure that your home is equipped to handle multiple animals in separate rooms. Even if you just have your bedroom or office dedicated to the foster-animals, they’ll appreciate the privacy.

What if they are never adopted?

Unfortunately, there is always a risk of a foster animal being euthanized. If the animal’s health doesn’t get better, or if they have behavioral issues, they may be humanely put down. Usually, a foster home is only temporary with a set period of time that the foster animals will be living in the home. Once the period of time is up or the animal is back to health, they will either be adopted out of the foster home or be introduced back into the shelter and be put up for adoption. If you become attached but want to give the animal a chance to find a different home, you may be able to make arrangements with your shelter to notify you if the animal fails to get adopted in a timely manner so that you could take the animal in yourself.

What if the foster animal injures me or my other pets?

Unfortunately, if an injury occurs between the foster pet and you or one of your family members or pets, you will likely be held liable for any damages. Most state laws prohibit shelters from taking the injury into their own hands. However, if something happens to the foster animal, the shelter will most likely pick up the tab. If you are concerned that your home isn’t suitable for a particular foster cat based upon space or behavior, you should contact the shelter as soon as possible to see about exchanging the foster pet for one more suited to your home and lifestyle.

If you are interested in fostering an animal, you should contact your local animal shelter or rescue service. Fostering can be a great way to help animals in need and provide yourself with an entertaining visitor. It won’t be easy to say goodbye, but the feeling that you’ll have from saving an animal’s life is unlike anything else. Most foster sessions end in tears, so don’t feel like you’re being overly emotional when you say a tearful goodbye. The service that you’ve provided to that animal has saved it’s life and prepared it for a loving forever home.