What Fostering Involves
As a foster parent, you will be responsible for feeding, cleaning, socializing, and cuddling your foster kitties. In some cases, you may need to bottle feed, give medications or take the kittens to the veterinarian.
In terms of space, you don't need much. A laundry room, bathroom, or extra bedroom is helpful, but a cage set up in the corner of your bedroom or den can work just fine.
However you choose to do it, it is important to be able to keep your fosters separate from your own animals! This is for everyone's safety. After 1-2 weeks, you may be able to introduce them, but it's important to be able to keep them apart.
Finally, unless you adopt them, you must be prepared to let your foster kittens go. It can be sad to say goodbye, but remember, you have given them a great start on life. Thanks to you, they will have a loving, permanent home with some very lucky adopters.
What do foster families need to provide?
Foster families need to provide:
A healthy and safe environment for their foster animals (this includes a way to keep them separate!)
Transportation to and from adoption events (TLC may be able to help with this)
Time with them - teaching them that humans can be kind, and getting to know their personalities
Can I foster kittens even if I have a full-time job?
Yes. The foster coordinator will match you with kittens appropriate for your schedule.
How many cats/kittens will I be fostering?
We like to have at least two kittens in a foster home so they can socialize with and learn from each other. Adult cats can often be placed by themselves, and sometimes we have adults who need to be an "only cat."
Can I let my foster kittens play with my personal pets?
Kittens are very susceptible to illness and can carry or catch dangerous ailments easily. For this reason, we require that foster parents isolate foster kittens with their own supplies for at least two weeks to try and ensure that the kittens are healthy prior to exposing them to your personal pets. We also advise that you consult with your veterinarian before fostering to ensure that all of your personal pets are healthy and up-to-date on all vaccines. If, for any reason, your personal pet becomes ill while you are fostering, we cannot provide medical care for your personal pet.
For more details on how to introduce cats to each other, read “Introducing a New Cat.” If you want to allow your dog to interact with the kittens, read “How to Introduce a Dog to a Cat.” Never leave your personal pets unsupervised around the foster kittens.
Important note: If your personal cat is allowed outdoors, he or she cannot interact with your foster kittens. Kittens are very vulnerable to illness and we want to limit their risk by not exposing them to anything from the outdoors.
Will any of my foster kittens die?
Sadly, kittens are fragile, so it is always possible for them to become ill and pass away while in a foster home. This may be the hardest thing about fostering kittens. If it’s something you don’t want to encounter, then fostering kittens may not be the best fit for you. But please keep in mind that without foster homes, most of these kittens would not stand a chance of survival. You’re helping to save lives.
A mom cat with kittens. This is actually one of the easiest options since mom does most of the work. You'll need a room or large cage along with a nesting area-part of the cage, a closet, large dog carrier, or a box on its side with a blanket draped over the front. Mom will need a litterbox.
The mother cat will feed, clean, and socialize the kittens. You will feed mom, clean her litterbox and bedding, handle the kittens, and monitor everyone's health.
Bottle feeders (or bottle babies). These are kittens under four weeks old who need to be bottle fed every 2-6 hours depending on how old they are. Since these kittens don't have a mom, you will also have to help them go to the bathroom, keep them clean, wean them, and train them to use a litterbox.
You'll need a warm, safe area in which to confine bottle babies, preferably a cage or large carrier. Some foster parents even convert an extra bathtub into a kitten area. Because warmth is so important, kittens should have access to a towel-covered heating pad, set on low. They must have enough space to be able to crawl off the heating pad if it gets too warm. If you are fostering a single kitten, provide a stuffed animal or something fuzzy for the kitten to cuddle.
Self-feeding kittens. Kittens 4-8 weeks old can already eat on their own and use the litterbox, but need care until they are old enough to be adopted. You'll feed them, clean them, play with them, monitor their health, and clean their litterbox. It is best to keep them in a confined area such as a small, kitten-proofed room, or a large cage.
Feral kittens. These are kittens, usually 4-8 weeks old, who have grown up with little or no human contact. In addition to the care described above, they also need more intensive socialization to help them become comfortable around people. This is for advanced fosterers only.