Fostering Out Your Cat

In this article “fostering out your cat” means handing over your cat to someone else for a period of time that is longer than, for example, a typical holiday. In other words longer than 2 weeks. The sort of fosterer would be a “non-professional” or a person not affiliated to a cat rescue organisation. When would you do this? There are a number of possibilities.

A classic occasion is when you do serious building work on your home. This causes lots of disruption and you may have to move out for while. This is bad for you and worse for your cat. If you rent while your home is being done up the terms of the rental agreement may prohibit cats. Under these circumstances it might be better for your cat if he was looked after by someone you trust while your home is refurbished.

Foster Cat

Foster Cat. Photo by The US Army

Can you totally trust your friend or colleague to hand your cat back when you ask? If there is any doubt, I would advise entering into a formal agreement for peace of mind. If the Mahoneys had entered into an agreement in writing with the foster carer of their cat, Frankie, they would not have lost him to Mrs Allan.

The Mahoneys wanted to refurbish their home. They had to move out, rent a place and put their cat into foster care. The verbal agreement was that the foster carer, Mrs Allan, an elderly lady, was to look after their cat and then hand him back when they were able to move back into their house.

Mrs Allan for reasons only known to herself decided to keep Frankie. The Mahoney’s couldn’t get her to change her mind. It went to court and a judge decided Mrs Allan could keep Frankie even though she did not own Frankie. We don’t have the full facts. The judge must have decided that ownership transferred from the Mahoneys to Mrs Allan based on what was said and the facts before him.

In order to avoid such a heartbreaking situation the best thing to do is to sign up to a very simple and straightforward agreement. If the foster carer won’t sign it, it might be wise to find someone else.

Here is a sample agreement. All you have to do it to copy it and paste it into a Word document or some other similar software, print it out, fill in the blanks and present it to your proposed cat foster carer for signature. It needs to be signed.


Note: this sort of thing – the inadvertent transference of ownership is more likely to happen when a cat is looked after for months. I would doubt it could happen over a period of a couple of weeks. Hence I would only recommend an agreement in true foster carer situations.


Simple written agreements are very powerful ways to ensure clarity in a situation that can become muddy. Agreements prevent bad behavior. Don’t be frightened in using them. The certainty they create is reassuring and above all best for your cat in this instance. I realise it might put people off but I really do believe that people should be more open to such things.


This is the draft agreement. Feel free to amend it but be careful. I am not saying an agreement is essential, just a good idea under certain circumstances.

AGREEMENT RELATING TO CAT FOSTER CARE

Date:

This is an agreement governing the foster care of…………………..(“the cat”)

PARTIES:

(1) The owner of the cat…………………………..(“the owner”)

(2) The foster carer……………………………….. (“the foster carer”)

Duration of foster care: From………………………..To……………………………… (“the agreed period”)

The parties agree the following:

  1. This agreement is concerned with the ownership of the cat before, during and after the agreed period.
  2. This agreement can only be amended or altered in writing signed by the parties.
  3. The parties are free to agree terms relating to expenses and other relevant terms outside of this agreement.
  4. The parties have agreed that the foster carer will take care of the cat for the owner for the agreed period.
  5. The parties agree that throughout the agreed period the cat will remain the property of the owner. There shall be no transference of title in the cat at any time before, during or after the agreed period from the owner to the foster carer or anyone else.
  6. At the end of the agreed period the foster carer shall return the cat to the owner.

SIGNED:

…………………………………………………the owner

…………………………………………………the foster carer

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Comments

Fostering Out Your Cat — 7 Comments

  1. Hi Michael,

    Sad story. I can’t imagine losing my cat that way. I’d get her back somehow but wouldn’t like the situation.

    I’d be real careful about who I left my cat with. If they balked at a written agreement then I wouldn’t leave my cat with them.

    I think that a written agreement would be a wise move and the form you’ve supplied would work well.

    =^..^= Hairless Cat Girl =^..^=

    • Thanks Liz. I am a believer in taking preventative action. Cats are so precious to people. To lose your cat like this would be horrible as you say. I don’t think I could stand it.

  2. Shocking and scary way to lose a cat. I wouldn’t be able to accept it. I think the written agreement would be like a test to weed out the people you don’t want anyway. However one would want the fosterer to love and care for the cat so the cat is happy. I guess a line needs to be drawn though, as to how much and how attaching that is. As Michael said, there must be a detail in the story missing for the judge to make such a decision? I can’t believe the fosterer gets the cat just because she wants him and no other reason. Can’t be as simple as that.

    • I have a feeling that the original owners said something to the fosterer that gave the indication that she could keep the cat and which created a binding agreement. Verbal agreements are dangerous. Another possibility is that the judge was no good. At small claims court level some judges are poor in Britain. They don’t have time to hear the case properly and make poor decisions. A written agreement would prevent the possibility of going to court. No discussion.

  3. I’d agree Michael. Small claims court is so busy– we had to go once. It does seem to be all about speed of hearing the cases, pushing people through as quickly as they can. Even so you wait and wait. I don’t think the judge gave it much thought. Doesn’t make him bad, just rushed and overwhelmed. With nothing in writing it’s hard to figure out who to believe. Maybe the foster came across as a nice lady who had the problem that these people were trying to take away her cat. The judge might have been sympathetic towards her. Instead of getting the facts straight it might have become a personality contest of sorts.

    • Absolutely right. It gets muddled and a judge does the best he or she can in the time allowed. That said some of these lower tier judges are a bit dodgy. Nice comment. Spot on.

  4. I wonder how long Frankie was with Mrs Allan, it may have been a good while as it takes a while to refurbish a house. I can’t help wondering why the Mahoneys didn’t rent somewhere they could take their cat with them, he had to be out of his own home anyway so why in a strange home with a strange person instead of with his family?
    I’m not saying Mrs Allan did right but she had probably got fond of Frankie and he’d have settled with her so I can see her logic in wanting to keep him.
    Yes a written agreement really is essential in that situation so that both the owner and the fosterer are clear on their agreement.

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