What to Consider Before Fostering a Dog or Cat

By Susan Danley

What to Consider Before Fostering a Dog or Cat

What to Consider Before Fostering a Dog or Cat

Fostering one or more pets that are waiting for adoption is a wonderful way to keep them out of overcrowded shelters. Fostering means that you must provide care for a dog or cat and may eventually have to give the pet up to a new forever home. Before you take on the responsibility of caring for a fostered pet, you have a few lifestyle changes to consider.

Are You a Good Foster Candidate?

While you may truly want to help homeless pets, you need to be sure that you can take on the responsibilities. If you work long hours, a dog is not a good choice. You do not want to leave a dog in a crate all day while you are at work. Cats are less likely to need constant attention. If you live in an apartment, you need to make sure you can have a pet in the first place. Again, taking in a dog means that you will need to have an area where you can take walks together. Many towns and cities have pet-friendly parks. DogPark.com can help you locate one in your area.

If you already have one or more pets, you must consider how they will react to a newcomer. It will normally take a day or two, but unless there are serious issues, everyone should eventually get along. PAWS offers some tips and guidelines to help you with the adjustment process. Children are another factor to take into consideration. You will want to check the temperament of the animal before your bring it into your home. You also need to talk to your children and make sure they understand how to treat animals with kindness.

Fostering is a great choice if you cannot keep a pet for years but still want the companionship. You also need to remember that it can be hard to part with a dog or cat you have come to love. If you are worried about attachment issues, talk to the organization about permanent adoptions after fostering. If you decide fostering is not right for you, consider volunteering a few hours a week at your local agency.

Making Pet Care Easier

Once you are sure fostering is the right choice, get your home ready for your new family member. If you are taking in a cat, you may want to cover or remove delicate furniture items from your main living areas. Cats will shed and scratch furniture. Get a good quality cat comb or brush and learn how to use it. Another great time-saving item is a self-cleaning litter box.

If you are fostering a dog, ask the shelter if it is housebroken first. If not, plan on a good supply of old newspapers to get you through the training process. Place plastic under the newspaper to prevent moisture from soaking through. Many stores carry doggy diapers and training pads. Have a friend on standby to take your dog for a walk if you are delayed at work.

Finally, be prepared for the accidents that can and will happen. You will need a mop and broom or vacuum. Remember that some animals can become very frightened from the sound of a vacuum cleaner. WebVet provides some tips on helping dogs deal with loud noises.

Learn about Animal Care

You do not need to be a veterinarian to open your home to a foster pet. However, you should learn some of the basic signs of illness to know when your pet needs medical attention. Websites are not a substitute for professional care, but they may be able to help you determine what is and isn’t normal. Do keep your pet away from any poisonous plants or foods.


About the author: Susan and her therapy dog Joe love making people feel better. Susan loves writing about anything pet or health related.

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What to Consider Before Fostering a Dog or Cat — 5 Comments

  1. Very nice and useful article, Susan.
    I always wished that someone would write an article about how to “let go” of a cat with better ease than I do.
    Maybe, you could write one.

      • Many of my experiences still stick with me. There were times that I didn’t even realize that tears were pouring down my face until I had that gasp that told me I was cryng.
        It’s a mix of saddness and happiness.
        It’s very hard for me, always.
        I wish someone had a method to ease the transition.

        • There is no way Dee, it’s like when a much loved cat dies, you never get over the loss, you only get used to it with time.
          The same is true for fostering and letting cats go to good forever homes, but much easier to come to terms with in time, because you know the cat is still alive and loved and you have room to take another in, in his/her place.

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