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How do you cope with parting with your foster cats?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hi,

I just started fostering for a local no-kill shelter. I have 5 of my own cats; and 4 fosters (though I'm thinking of keeping 1 of those). As the time approaches to give them up, I'm worried about how this will affect me. I love them dearly (I've had them over one month--they're about 6 months old now), and I'm getting more attached by the day. I will have some control over who adopts them--but I still worry about what will happen to my babies in the future--will the parents really give them the love and attention we do, will they get upset with them if they do domething wrong, and surrender them to a shelter that is not a no-kill shelter, etc.? Now, I'm used to taking in strays; all of my babies had hard-luck stories--but I've never had to give any up for adoption. I'm not sure if I'm cut out to be a foster mom! I want to keep helping cats, but wonder if I can handle the emotional side of adopting them out. Can anyone who's done fostering give me advice? Thank you so much.

MargeCat
post #2 of 19
It is really hard to give up your fosters, especially the first couple litters. The woman that taught me everything I know about cats has been fostering for 15+ years (in addition to her own 5 cats, 3 dogs, 5 birds, and 2 kids!) and she said she still cries sometimes when she has to give them back. It helps her to know that she's 1) probably saved them through her care (but she often takes in the sick/underweight ones) and 2) socialized them enough that they will be lovable cats and not surrendered later on.
She's only taken in 2 of her own fosters over the years, one was an adult cat that she was fairly certain wasn't going to be adopted due to her health problems, and the other one was a kitten that she had brought back from the brink of death and had kept for about 10 weeks.
I know you can do it, yes, it will hurt when you have to give up your fosters, it's impossible not to get attached to them, but you have to trust that they will go to loving forever homes and if you'd like, you can even keep in touch with their new owners so you can see what they look like when they're all grown up!
I hope you decide to stay a foster parent, though it's got it's hard times, I feel the good far outweighs the bad.
post #3 of 19
Perhaps it sounds silly, but one thing that really helped me feel better with each goodbye was to make a little care package to send out with each animal. I think focusing on little projects like this really kept me more positive and helped get me excited about them starting a new life with a new family. Additionally, it helped me to lay the ground work to establish a relationship with the adopter so they felt they could to me(or my organization) if they had questions or problems

I would fill a smaller decorative gift bag with their favorite treats and toys to make sure they had those in their new home and attached a small letter to the adopter. In the letter I would thank them for choosing my foster and write a little paragraph with any information that I thought they might want to know-like what food she had been feed with us and reinforce scratching post info they received- so they would have that information on hand. I also included my contact information and let them know I would be more than happy to answer any questions they might have or any problems they ran into. If your organization allows this (and some might not for valid reasons), I would definitely include your email. I found some people are much more comfortable contacting me that way and more willing to open up if they are even having a smaller problem. I also found it increased the odds of the adopters sending me updates and pictures of my former fosters, so I would highly recommend it if that is something you’d be comfortable with.

I found fostering to be one of the most rewarding experiences in my life, so I hope you stick with it. Perhaps it sounds cliché but as much as I was sad to know they would be leaving at some point, nothing describes seeing them thrive with a wonderful home that can give them the attention they deserve or how much love they have brought to someone’s life. There are always more needy animals out there that need us to help them reach that point.
post #4 of 19
Hi, MargeCat! I, too, am fostering my first litter of kittens (and their mom) and wondered the very same thing. What happens when I have to let these guys go? I've only had them a week and already I've grown to love them so!

One thing I try to keep in mind - every kitten I adopt out (on behalf/through THS) is another kitten I can foster/rescue. It doesn't always reassure me, but it helps.

And, wow, Yorda, it was rather startling to read your post - that is EXACTLY what I decided to do earlier today. I was creating the list of "ingredients" while I was working - I kept a pad next to me and whenever something crossed my mind, I added it to the list.

Stay strong, y'all!
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hi,Aunty Crazy!

I'm thinking the best thing to do, almost as soon as they leave for their new homes, is to request more to foster! This will help another bunch of kitties, and it may keep me from dwelling on my adopted ones (though I will never forget them...). Whenever I had a pet who died, I always tried to find another one, a hardship case, to ease my pain, as soon as possible. I know this may sound callous to some (My Mom included!), but think of it this way: you're saving another animal's life. God knows, there's sadly a never-ending supply of unwanted, unloved, or abused animals out there that need a home. I think my Mom was afraid we'd forget our beloved pets; but I remember each and every one of them since childhood (which was long, long ago!).
post #6 of 19
Well, let me tell you, after 4 months of mommy cat and her 4 kittens, juggling them between my three permanent residents, I was happy to say goodbye! Well, almost, I did end up keeping the last one because he was such a Pansy (his name) I knew he would freak out in the adoption cage at petsmart, so I kept him. But it was such a chore feeding and scooping mommy and babes, herding them into the basement for the day (they slept in an extra room) and then taking care of mine, plus my male seemed to fancy the little girls after a while. Mommy cat would attack my guys any chance she got so I had to make sure their paths never crossed. One time her foot got caught in a rake inside the cellar steps, and she got stuck, as I was about to assist her my male ran from behind me an attacked her, and then ran down to the basement, now she was screaming and hanging by her foot! and he came up and swatted her again, then she got loose and started after him, oh what a nightmare. Fortunately her foot was just bruised, not broken. So again, GOOD RIDDANCE.
post #7 of 19
It may sound callous, but giving up kittens so you can get more is what fostering is all about. And the first time you hear from a new adoptive family about how much they love the kitty, you will know why we do this.

My first adopter of a foster was a woman who had NEVER had a pet in her life. She got Miss Kitty (renamed Jasmine) for her 70th birthday from her kids. She kept saying to the kitty, "Grandma's gonna buy you lots of toys" and other such things. Her kids told her...you're her Mom, not her Grandma. The woman didn't care. She even told Miss Kitty that Grandma would have to go visit her husband in the nursing home daily, but otherwise would spend all day with her.

This was a kitty who simply wanted to sit on someone's lap all day. In our busy family, with multiple pets, that wasn't going to happen. She was a lovely cat, and would have done fine with us. But it was a mutual instant love when she met her new Mom. She watched as the woman left, looking confused, as if...why is she leaving?!?! After Miss Kitty got spayed, she went to live with her new Mom as Jasmine, named by a grandchild. Jasmine made a huge difference in a lonely woman's life. And they are still happy together.

And I don't think Jasmine ever knew how close she was to being outside forever, forgotten. She just thinks life includes a warm lap and lots of love.

My last adoption was Eugene (now Fez), who never really fully tamed. I was worried he might be overlooked, and never get a loving home. I recently got an e-mail from his new owner. For a few days Fez hissed and growled at her dog. Then finally they just decided to get along. Here is part of her e-mail...

Yes, Friday
was the day everything went from madness to peace in my house. I was sitting
on the couch with Samantha petting her and Fez poked his head out of my
bedroom (he was hiding under the bed) and saw us on the couch and he came
running over and leaped up on to my lap. Samantha's head was on my left leg
and he got comfortable on my right and I thought oh boy I sure hope my legs
don't become amputated in the fight that is going to happen. I could not
believe it, Fez and Samantha both sniffed each other and touched noses and
that was it. Ever since then they have been buddies. He follows her around
the house and they play with toys together and when she gets too excited he
hisses at her and puts her in check and then they play again. It is great!!
I am so incredibly grateful for Denise, you, and Becky for helping me find
Fez. I really truly am grateful. He is a wonderful kitten. I will definitely
keep you posted on how things are going with him.

Thanks again,


It still brings tears to my eyes. He never would have had that with me, he would have been one of the shy ones in my bunch, more connected to the kitties than me. Now he is friends with Samantha, who really needed a companion. And his human is delighted with him!

Look at your foster babies, and love them dearly. Know that a part of them is always yours. Take pictures, give contact info. Then pass the love on.
post #8 of 19
I would think it is much the same as fostering children, you know they are not staying, but some of them still get "under your skin" and some of them you are glad to see go, Just think to your self that your are doing your best for them while you have them and that if you kept them you couldn't help any more.
post #9 of 19
I have to say i am odd and dont really get that bothered by my fosters leaving, and have never cried when one has gone - i couldn't stop smiling on Mon as I had interest in 2 of the three (one here 14.5 months, one 13 weeks) and one was going Mon, and one Tues - turned out they both went on Mon, my choice. I find calling myself Aunty rather than mum helps, as i am a temporary home till a wonderful new one is found for them and the ones that dont get integrated are a lot easier to let go - I thought I woudl be upset with Tom, but instead was just so pleased that he found a wonderful home, as he sprayed and fought here. I have only kept one out of 18, and she is 13 and a very skittish cat who only appreciates things on her terms, so we didn't actually feel it was fair to 'move' her again - she only came here cos the rescue thought she was dying, I visited her and she basically plonked herself on my knee and fell asleep, so she pretty much decided for the rescue!! She is perfectly healthy though, she must have been depressed. One woman who I really respect has a policy that the only ones she will keep are the ones that wouldn't get adopted out, and it is something I follow, as if I fill up with permanent cats, I dont have the space or time to foster, and as a result, we can't help as many cats. It is very tempting though, but if they can be adopted, it isn't fair for them to stay here and take up space that a cat on the streets may need. I also like to get new fosters fairly quickly, helps you focus on why you are doing it.
post #10 of 19
I'd never be able to give up the kitties after fostering them I'd probably keep ever single one!!!
post #11 of 19
My attitude is that I am getting these cats/kittens ready for their new homes...because of my actions, I can ensure that the cats/kittens are placed into the right home and that their new owner knows everything there is to know about their individual quirks.

Katie
post #12 of 19
Just think of what you have done for the kitties that you're giving up to wonderful homes! My mom and I fostered kittens for over 10 years, and it was hard the first couple of times (we started fostering when i was 8- i wanted to keep them all!). You're wonderful for doing what you do!

Keep your head up- and get ready for another litter!
post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by MargeCat View Post
Hi,

I just started fostering for a local no-kill shelter. I have 5 of my own cats; and 4 fosters (though I'm thinking of keeping 1 of those). As the time approaches to give them up, I'm worried about how this will affect me. I love them dearly (I've had them over one month--they're about 6 months old now), and I'm getting more attached by the day. I will have some control over who adopts them--but I still worry about what will happen to my babies in the future--will the parents really give them the love and attention we do, will they get upset with them if they do domething wrong, and surrender them to a shelter that is not a no-kill shelter, etc.? Now, I'm used to taking in strays; all of my babies had hard-luck stories--but I've never had to give any up for adoption. I'm not sure if I'm cut out to be a foster mom! I want to keep helping cats, but wonder if I can handle the emotional side of adopting them out. Can anyone who's done fostering give me advice? Thank you so much.

MargeCat
It does get easier, the more you do it. I was bawling my eyes out when I brough my first batch back. (I had them for 4 weeks.) But the worst was my first ones I had from the day they were born. Had them for over 8 weeks and loved them and their mom to pieces. Would have kept at least 2 of them if we already didn't have 3 pets at the time. The shelter really checks out owners before they let them adopt animals, so I'm pretty comfortable that they'll have a good life. I worry about the moms more because a lot of people don't want grown up cats. (Kittens always go fast at our shelter). So I usually write a poem or make a little poster for the moms (my husband even drew a picture of one of them) and we put it on the cage at the shelter. So far all my moms have found homes in a week or 2 so it must be working. They have all been great cats too. I also agree that it helps to get more to take care of soon after that. Although its nice to have a little rest and not have to do so much cleaning, it gets pretty boring without any cute little rascals around.
post #14 of 19
I also foster/rescue lots of kittens and I still will shed a few tears each time any leave, especially the ones that I have bottle fed. But I know that I cannot keep all of them and give each of them the individual attention that they need. I am really picky about who gets to adopt the kittens and quite a few of the new owners will keep in touch and let me know how they are doing. To know that the little ones are in a good home with a loving family is worth the heartache of seeing them go.
I hope that you keep up being a foster, the rewards in knowing that you have saved a life is the best feeling ever!!!
post #15 of 19
I'll tell you the truth, I am afraid to foster. Once an animal is in my house for whatever reason, it is mine. They would have to bulldoze the house down around me to get the kits back.
post #16 of 19
Maybe it would help to hear a story from the other side, from someone who has a former foster cat.

Polly (you can see her angelic face in my sig) was born into a feral colony that lives on a farm outside of town. My vet fostered Polly's litter of three kittens. Although they were taken from the farm as kittens, Polly was difficult to socialize. At one point, my vet was almost going to send her back to the farm. They asked me about adopting her, warning me that they call her Hissy for good reason. They said she would hiss at you and basically freak out until you started to hold her, and then she'd calm down. I agreed to take her on a trial basis since I wasn't sure how Prego was with other cats. I know that she was very attached to Polly and it was hard to give her up.

Would you believe she never hissed at me? She'd let me hold her and just purr her heart out. She did hiss at Prego the first couple of days, but Prego just sort of looked at her like, whatever. Now they get along just great. Polly has helped Prego shed a pound that he needed to lose. I've had her well over a year now, and you'd never know she was difficult to socialize. At first, she was afraid of people and would run away when new people came over, but now she comes and visits everybody. My vet did such an amazing job with her, you'd never know she wasn't an ordinary cat.

Every day I'm thankful to her for fostering Polly and for giving her to me. Polly is such a gift.

I hope this helps!
post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hi,

Well, their sneaky, evil little black magic ways worked :-) --I think we're going to keep all but the sick one (who has feline leukemia). We just fell in love with them (hey, what's 3 more dishes to fill twice a day, huh???) Guess I stink at being a foster mom!

MargeCat
post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by MargeCat View Post
Hi,

Well, their sneaky, evil little black magic ways worked :-) --I think we're going to keep all but the sick one (who has feline leukemia). We just fell in love with them (hey, what's 3 more dishes to fill twice a day, huh???) Guess I stink at being a foster mom!

MargeCat

No...we (in rescue) affectionate call you foster failures.

Congrats on your new additions.

Katie
post #19 of 19
you had some great questions !!!

i know this because i had all the same questions LOL !!!!

so i kind of solved it by asking the adoptive family if we could exchange
email addresses and telephone numbers so that we could keep in touch
and maybe they could send me pictures via email from time to time.

and they have done this, although one lady has now kind of stopped.
i am very sad about that. i only get to speak to her about once a year now.

AND another very important thing that i did is that i told the adoptive
families that should anything ever happen that i would take the cats back
no matter what, no questions asked, and that i wanted them back. i stressed
that to them several times so that they knew i meant it.

it definately helps to get email stories and pictures of them from time to time.
this way i know they are still with that family and that they are safe and
happy.

another helpful thing for me was that i was able to adopt out the siblings
in pairs. for some reason that really helped to know they were together
in their new homes.

as it turns out the only good fostering i am good it is the kind where i only
have the kittys for about 2-3 weeks. no longer. i get way too attached way
too fast.
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