With kitten season already in full swing, cat rescues are scrambling to find a way to get cats and their kittens out of the local shelter and into a loving home. The problem is there are far more many cats out there in need of a home environment, and not enough homes for them to go to before their time runs out at the shelter and the cat is killed to make space for another cat.
This dilemma isn’t new. Cat advocates follow their favorite shelters year round, and the frustration at irresponsible owners never ends. Owners who don’t believe in spay/neuter. Owners who dump their pregnant or newly delivered cat at the local shelter, careless or clueless that owner surrenders can be killed at any time. That’s where cat fostering comes in, and it will be solving two problems at once. Because a lot of prospective cat owners don’t know whether they want the full-time responsibility of having a cat. Think of it as a test run. You’ll not only save a life, but you’ll take the pressure off of a rescue whose founder is likely losing sleep because only so many little lives can be saved without temporary homes.
So you’ve made the decision to foster a cat. Here’s what you need to do to make it happen. The first thing to remember is to keep it local. You want to pick a rescue and shelter close to where you live. The reason for this is emergencies do come up, and most rescues use a local vet or have medication on hand. You don’t want to be an hour away, should a cat 9-1-1- happen. You don’t have to have a fancy home to foster. Cleanliness is essential, but a climate controlled spare room or bathroom is all you need. It just needs to be warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Contact your local shelter and ask them for a list of local rescues who are approved for their shelter. This can be done by email or by dropping by the shelter. Once you have the list, it’s best to do a bit of research. Good rescues have a Facebook page or a website. They’re also willing to give you foster references you can contact if you need confirmation this is a good rescue. It’s best to foster through a 501c3 (a 501c3 organization must fulfil several requirements), but keep in mind there are plenty of good rescues out there who haven’t acquired this status. One plus for a foster for a 501c3 is a percentage of costs associated with caring for a cat are now tax deductible with the IRS.
A good rescue won’t overload a foster with cats. If you pick a rescue who tries to talk you into bringing 15-20 cats into your home-RUN! Good rescues keep the number of cats allowed low so as not to overwhelm a foster. A good rescue will also supply food and cat litter to their foster homes. Some even provide beds, pet carriers and toys. Medications are provided, along with training on how to administer them. Some rescues even hold “bottle baby” classes where they train a foster how to feed newborn kittens whose mother is dead or doesn’t want to feed her babies. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend a new foster to take on a family of orphans. Even experienced foster parents have issues come up that can scare off a new cat caregiver.
A reputable rescue may only need a foster for a cat for a few weeks, or it could be long term. Some ask that a foster home keep a cat until adoption, and the cat will need to be brought to weekend adoption events. This is a great way to meet other cat lovers, especially other foster parents who can offer advice and answer questions. The rescue you’re fostering for should always be open and available to answer any questions you may have, especially dealing with medical emergencies. If you’re ever told to just wait out what you know in your heart is a life and death situation, then chances are you’re dealing with a bad rescue. Once your foster kitty finds a forever home, you may take on another cat or you can take a break. Or you can decide cat caregiving isn’t what you expected. It’s unreal how many adopted cats are returned to the shelter because the adopter didn’t realize the responsibility.
Rescues, please feel free to leave a comment on anything I may have missed. What does your rescue provide to ensure the care of both your foster and the cat? Fosterer’s, are there any warning signs of a bad rescue you’d like to mention? Your advice could pave the way for a rescue to add to their list of foster homes available, which in turn will save a shelter cat.
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