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Advice for potential foster mom?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hey all!
Well, the shelter that I'm volunteering at seems to be happy with the idea of me fostering, soooo.. Do you have any advice?

I figured I'll probably be taking care of orphaned kittens between 3-8 weeks as well as pregnant moms about to give birth. But who knows?

I have two cats right now; one is very maternal. The other is Toby, who doesn't LIKE other cats (he puts up and even mildly likes Trin) but basically just sulks when other cats are around.

Does anyone have a household similar, or just own cats as it is? Any advice would be good, I wanna know what I'm getting myself into!
post #2 of 12
Eden just gave birth here. Since then, it's been non stop fighting between Ophelia/Bea, Ophelia/Molly.
post #3 of 12
I am not an expert but I would NOT foster with a resident cat who is less than fond of other cats ...
post #4 of 12
The most important thing is to have a room they can be isolated in, partly cos at first you need to make sure they are worm, flea and disease free, and then in case they dont get on. When I foster kittens, they aren't allowed out of the 'cat room' unless they are in a cage for cleaning the room out, partly to limit the stress on my cats, and partly cos my stairs arent kitten friendly, and they could possibly hurt themselves, even adults have been known to nearly fall through. I foster even though one of my cats doesn't like other cats (she was my first failed foster), but she has pretty much always lived in my bedroom, so I make sure that the others dont come in (she will tolerate one of them though), in fact half the cats here dont like other cats, but I keep numbers low to make sure they all have enough space to keep away from them.
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
I am not an expert but I would NOT foster with a resident cat who is less than fond of other cats ...
It really only makes him temporarily grumpy, actually. I'd rather save some kittens who otherwise would have to be turned away since the shelter I volunteer at doesn't euthanize for space/lack of foster homes.

I was thinking about using my ginormous bathroom as a sort of quarantine, although the employees of the CCS hold onto any incoming cats and test them for all sorts of stuff ahead of time. Seriously, it's about 4/5th's the size of my childhood bedroom--Huge!
post #6 of 12
I have a Mama cat and her 8 kittens that I am fostering. I also have a huge bathroom and they live in there comfortably. My own cat Mary is territorial but she has come to accept other cats. She knows they are not coming out. So she goes on about her business with no worries.
post #7 of 12
Actually, even though cats are vet checked and tested for various diseases, if they just have a flu/cold virus or something it may take up to two weeks to exhibit, so it's sound advice to keep any new fosters separated from your home kitties for two weeks.

A large bathroom will work great as the intro room.

We would always change clothes (actually we just pulled up coveralls) before going into the separation room. We'd leave our footwear outside. And make sure to wash your hands before leaving.

In the meantime, to help all kitties to adjust to each other's presence, it's a good idea to rub the foster - or mom cat - all over with a towel and put it under the food dish of your kitties. And rub them with another towel and put it under the food dish of the foster. This will help them get used to the scents of each other, and to associate each other with good things.

Other than that, make sure to give your home kitties lots of love and reassurance (or extra play) - but spend as much time as you can in the separation room, on the floor at their level, doing whatever you can in there, just letting them get used to your presence. Work on a laptop, read, read out loud, knit, sew, fold laundry - whatever you can do! Singing is great.

Also, don't look at them in the eyes, and best not to try to reach out (unless they're friendly) - both are seen as aggressive. If you reach out, do it palm down. Look at them on the forehead or over the top of the head. Also, food and a regular schedule is your friend! Baby food (meat baby food - we use Gerber's chicken) can be a great "ice-breaker." If scared of people, offering it on a spoon while sitting sideways to them and not looking at them can be the start of getting them to approach you.

Keeping a schedule for cleaning litter boxes, refreshing dry food bowls, feeding a wet meal once or twice a day, and cleaning and refreshing water bowls REALLY helps. Also, knocking lightly on the door before entering and telling them you're coming in is nice for them.

And making sure they've got a hidey space - a box turned on its side with the flap hanging down is great. Letting them get comfortable in the new space with the new sounds and smells and then spending time to allow them to come to trust you is what it's all about.

What a wonderful thing you're doing!

post #8 of 12
BTW - if you're fostering young kittens, then forget the separation if they're under 6 weeks - they need to be with you. If between 7 - 12 weeks, I'd give the separation at least a few days. If older than that, I'd probably stick with at least a week separation.

post #9 of 12
I want you to truly & seriously consider this.

Less than a month ago, you posted about contemplating when to make "the decision" to euthanize Toby for spraying. He doesn't like Trina that much, you've said before it took 3 years to truly accept her. You are in a new house, which is *hopefully* spray free if Toby's been "behaving"....is this a risk you want to take, him spraying again?

If he starts spraying because you're fostering....what is your plan then?

(I ask this as Squishy was spraying. The room he was in still reeks. The white paint? It took multiple coats to cover it as he sprayed so much the white pain was no longer white.)

There are ways to make it easier....like Feliway, Rescue Remedy, etc. But in some cases, I've put fostering before my cats & I deeply regret that. I do not want you to put fostering before Toby & Trina....especially given Toby's previous issues with accepting another cat in the house.

I hope this doesn't offend you....but I've made mistakes I want no other to make. As I sit here, Bea & Ophelia are having a fit as they wish for nothing other than the "enemy" to be dead by their own paw. Yes, it has caused spraying. All I can do is shut up & deal with it. It's my own fault....I can do what I can to help the spraying, but I doubt it will ever fully go away. (and ironically, neither Bea nor Ophelia are my sprayers, but rather another "sensitive" kitty who is upset by the fights)
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by white cat lover View Post
I want you to truly & seriously consider this.

Less than a month ago, you posted about contemplating when to make "the decision" to euthanize Toby for spraying.
White Cat Lover. I'm going to attempt to show great restraint as I write this.

One month ago I said I was trying to decide if I should make a "hard decision" because of his inappropriate urination, NOT Euthanize Toby. And that "hard decision", unspecified in the thread, was to transfer him to my Aunt, who lives fifteen minutes away, who adores him and loves him, and doesn't mind animals urinating other than where they're supposed to, as evidenced from her dog, who Toby grew up with and played with for the better part of his life.

I would never, NEVER, Euthanize a cat for spraying. EVER.

Again, he was not SPRAYING. He had improper urination problems due to 1)dislike of cat litter and 2) not enough daily scooping. He has not had a problem since we moved in aside from the one or two minor incidences in the first week as he was getting used to using his litterbox again. It was not territorial and not spraying.

There is a difference between bad toilet habits and spraying as several articles state throughout tcs; I will be happy to find you one or two of them if you have confusion about the subject.

I do appreciate your concern, misplaced and misinterpreted as it was, I understand your heart is in the right place. I would not want someone who would consider euthanizing a pet for litterbox problems fostering kittens either.

But at the same time.. Do NOT jump to conclusions. And if you do, especially about something as horrid as that.. A PM, if you had actually verified your claim (as you can see in the unedited post in my posting history) and not hastily drawn conclusions from obscure wording, would be much, MUCH more appropriate.

Honestly, I'm livid. You should clarify before making such horrible accusations against someone. A hard decision, for me, is wondering whether or not I can live without my darling.

Euthanizing a wonderful cat for not using the proper bathroom? That's not a decision. That's murder.
post #11 of 12
Hate me or not, my post hopefully got you to consider all aspects, even the ugly ones.

I've said the same thing to tons of potential foster parents. I had one woman deck me (which I'm sure you'd LOVE to do right now). I've had one woman call me a (which I'm sure you'd also love to do). The one who sat & talked with me about the issues is one of the best fosters we have.....as she thought through all the ugly things. I am the person who gets the delightful job of sorting out the fosters, who'll be good & who won't. Yeah, my manner offends people, but I don't have time to monkey around with bad fosters here (not saying you are one, but I've seen so many people who would not be suitable fosters).

If you think you can stand up to the previous post I made, I think you'll make an excellent foster parent.

Be prepared for heartbreak. Every once in awhile, some do die (especially if you are talking moms/babies & bottle fed kittens) & they do have to leave you eventually. You need to determine now if you can financially afford to keep any, as you will have "the one" for certain.

Expect Toby to be pissed at first, I have a sensitive kitty like him, be armed with your Feliway diffusers or whatever works for him.

Know that I've had kitties come in who've had clean fecals bring in Giardia & Coccidia, which I ended up paying to treat my animals for. Find out if the group you want to work with will pay to treat your cats should the fosters bring something in. I've had kitties bring in ringworm, which, delightfully didn't show up for 3 months. I've also had kittens die of distemper.

Think about how much time you have & your work schedule. Some groups are in need of fosters to bottle feed kittens, others to take in pregnant/nursing moms. Some are in need of people to socialize scared kittens, some in need of just plain old fostering of adult cats.
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
I was not angry with you because of your concern over the potential spraying. I was upset because you stated that I intended to murder one of my cats when that wasn't the case. The rest of your stuff was helpful.

If he did decide to randomly take up territorial scent marking, then I'd have to put an end to the fostering, but I don't see why I couldn't at least see how it would work out. Since I don't believe his peeing habits were territorial, I don't think the spraying would be a problem.

Already, in two weeks of simply being at a shelter, I came back to find that one of the darling kitties who snuggled with me, purring, had died suddenly of FIP. =( So I think I'll be alright, but.. if I can provide assistence, then I intend to do so.
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