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How do you get started in fostering?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I wasn't really sure where to ask this; I hope I found the right spot.

I absolutely refuse to breed my cats, but I miss having kittens. I've thought about getting into fostering so that I can have kittens around without adding a ton of permanent kitty-buddies--maybe either pregnant cats, mama cats with litters, or a litter of bottlefeeders during school breaks (i.e. when I have the time it takes to do it right). I have experience raising bottlefeeders from 10 days and the whole litter made it to adulthood, so I know what it takes, and I kind of doubt I could do well at it when I have to work, but I'm a teacher, so I could take a bottlefeeder litter as a summer break project.

I don't know how my cats would react to other cats, but my new apartment will have enough spaces that I could separate them if they don't get along. I kind of suspect that they might help raise a bottlefeeder litter once they're old enough to need to be taught how to be cats, since their mama cat did that kind of thing and Squirrel used to carry around and cuddle this one stuffed toy I had. I know I would need to get my girls fixed first (they're 100% indoor as birth control now) in case any boy kittens stick around a little longer and grow up fast.

BF and I have talked about getting "our cat" after I move, from a shelter of course. Should I ask that shelter about fostering? Or is there some kind of association of cat rescue groups I could check with? Are there training classes I could take to get ready? (I think I could do it on what I know now, but of course it's always good to improve.)

The one thing is, I would definitely want to work through an agency, because otherwise I would end up wanting to keep them all.
post #2 of 10
I have absolutely no advice except to say "you go, girl!"

Until more people learn to spay/neuter we need folks in this world who will consider doing this. I just wish I could.
post #3 of 10
My hero! Just Google Cat rescue and your zip code and you will find lots of groups, probably desperate for foster mom's here in the middle of kitten season.

From what I hear they vary widely in what they require of a foster, from some who are so picky that no one meets their standards, to so casual that any one could. They also vary in what services they provide, and what level of vet care they are able to pay for, I've read a few horror stories about fosters who spent hundreds of un reimbursed dollars on vet care. Those are definately the exception, not the rule, if you speak to a few you'll probably find a good one pretty fast.

You don't happen to be near NE Ohio do you? MissKitties has babies who are sponsored but need a foster...
post #4 of 10
Yeah, you don't happen to be in NE Ohio, do you? I'm desperate for a foster!!

Wherever you are located, I definitely encourage you to get involved in fostering. There are so many kitties out there that would benefit so much by being taken into a temporary loving home.

Most good rescues will require that you have your own cats up to date on shots and spayed/neutered before you bring any fosters into your home. It's also good that you have somewhere to isolate the kittens. Often, kittens cannot be vetted when they are very young. They cannot be accurately tested for diseases and such that could be transmitted to your own cats. (Btw, I don't want to get preachy, but you should spay your cat anyway because she's at an increased risk of certain cancers and other illnesses if she is left unspayed).

I've fostered several litters of kittens while having my own cats. I start by isolating the kittens. Most of my litters were semi-feral, so I had to socialize them first anyway. I was responsible for transporting them to and from the vet when it came time for that. The rescue group paid for the vetting. Some rescues are different, but many will expect you to transport the kittens to the vet. Anyway, once they get a clean bill of health, I let them socialize with my own cats. Expect your cats to hiss at the new babies at first, but they'll probably warm up to them eventually. I think this helps the kittens get used to socializing with other cats, which is a plus when someone with cats is looking to adopt a new kitten.

Also, be sure to ask if the rescue will pay for the food and supplies for the kittens and how this will work out. Do you need to keep the receipts so they can reimburse you?

An easy way to find rescues near you is to go to Petfinder. Below the animal search box, there is a search box to find a shelter either by name or location. Just type in your locating and a list of shelters will come up. I'd start by visiting their sites, where they might have a foster application or info. Then I'd contact the ones that look the best. Ones with foster applications always seem more reputable to me, because it shows they care where the animals are going. Some rescues might have an orientation or something, but none that I know of have any sort of training. It sounds like you have enough experience with cats and kittens that you won't have any problems anyway.

Oh, and I just want to add that you should definitely check to see if your local pound or county shelter has a foster program. Most don't, but several do have them. These animals are obviously very much in need of a place to go!
post #5 of 10
I would add to that that you can go to - across the top is a link that says shelters.. you can search by city and state. Make sure they have a good fostering program where they support the fosters financially, medically and with supplies... most do.
post #6 of 10
I encourage you to be sure you have space to separate your fosters for a few weeks, at least. I brought home a foster kitten, who's been tested, had all his shots, etc. He was miserable, so I let him run/play with my cats right away. 2 weeks into it, he tested + for coccidia. $125 later, I'm having to treat all my animals.

As for shelters, take a look on petfinder. Determine what you are able/willing to handle (adult special needs, kittens with mothers, bottle babies, etc). Check with the shelters on what they do medically, their policy on what happens if the foster needs vet care, what happens if they infect your animals (do you have to pay for it or will they?), if you pay for food/litter or if they do, etc. Find out how long you keep them, if they would like them at a facility for viewing, etc.
post #7 of 10
It is essential that you have space where you can keep fosters separate, and ideally also somewhere to keep a sick cat/kitten isolated. I learnt the hard way last year when I lost a foster kitten and a stray injured cat that I took in, both of FIP., because I kept them together (isolated from my cats, thank goodness).

My shelter will only foster to people whom they know, basically they ask that you volunteer there first for a bit so they can see you with cats. After that they are very supportive with food, litter and vet care. So I would go to some shelters and get to know them and see if the relationship would work. You could be asked to take a small litter that you would have to keep for up to ten weeks, so you do need to have the time and commitment to do that. But good luck with it - the world needs more foster parents.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks all!

Just a thought--should I look into picking up a few extra critter carriers for use as short-term or sick-care isolation areas and general den/cave areas when no kitties need them for the other purposes, if I can get them cheap? Sometimes they show up in yard sales. I could even try to make a kitty condo by stacking a few and stabilizing them somehow.
post #9 of 10
Good on you for considering fostering, especially if you want to help with kittens, as they are often the ones that benefit the most, as they take up pens in a rescue for weeks.
post #10 of 10
Originally Posted by ebrillblaiddes View Post
I absolutely refuse to breed my cats, but I miss having kittens.

I don't know how my cats would react to other cats, but my new apartment will have enough spaces that I could separate them if they don't get along.

I know I would need to get my girls fixed first (they're 100% indoor as birth control now) in case any boy kittens stick around a little longer and grow up fast.
Most important is to keep separated because of unknown health issues that could harm your cats. Second, it is important that you introduce them properly. There is a sticky in the behavior section that covers introductions.

Extremely important to make sure all your animals are spayed or neutered BEFORE you bring any other cats in your home. Hormones can contribute to other issues. They may start spraying to mark their territory when new cats are added. The scent of another cat is a motivating factor.

Be aware that if a cat goes into heat and there is a male tom cat close by, she will do her best to find a way out. They are sneaky.

You can learn by volunteering at your local shelter. Tell them you are willing to foster and they can guide you. Kudos to you for wanting to help! Best to you and your future helping foster.
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