The reason why cats in foster homes are more likely to be adopted than cats in shelters is because they are free to roam within the home, as opposed to being in a cage, which means that they can express their normal personality. They are less likely to be shy and retiring.
This in turn means they are more likely to be adopted. That’s the general theory. However, I know that in the UK the very large cat rescue organisation, Cats Protection, insist that their foster carers put their cats in cages which nullifies completely the advantage I have mentioned. I presume they demand this in order to keep the cat separate from any other cats in the home and stop them wandering et cetera. I disagree with the idea but understand the reasoning.
However, a man working as a animal shelter volunteer in Sauk County, Wisconsin, USA, whose name is Ben Nelms, makes the excellent point that animals act differently when they’re in cages compared to when they are in foster homes. He should know because he is trying to set up a foster network to improve the chances of cats at his shelter being rehomed. He sees too much euthanasia and cats not being given a second chance. The thing that pleases him most is seeing cats being adopted.
He said that cats and dogs who act extremely shyly (or in an agitated manner) in the shelter become outgoing animals in a home environment. Dogs who bark incessantly at a shelter may be very calm when they are not confined in a small space and have the possibility to interact with people regularly.
In allowing cats and dogs to show their true personalities more of them will be adopted. This is an obvious and simple formula. It may also be true that foster carers are more able to give more time to a single individual animal which means that if the animal is in poor health they are more likely to pull through and be adopted.
He works for the Saulk County Humane Society which is an open-admission shelter with a higher than average euthanasia rate for the simple reason that they are open admission. They accept any animal which means that they have to kill animals to make room for new animals. It sounds awful. Nelms said on the Fox 47.com website that he is heartbroken seeing so many animals not get a second chance at life which drives him to save lives.
The shelter’s outreach manager and volunteer coordinator, Rachel Leuzinger, agrees with Nelms efforts to extend the foster network because it is bound to benefit animals but it is only a partial solution, and we all know that. The best solution is to reduce unwanted animals coming into the shelter in the first place. I don’t see a lot been done about that. It means improving the quality of cat “ownership” which is a large scale project. Little is being done at grass root level to achieve that goal as far as I can tell.