Fostering a cat for the first time is an enriching experience. It can be a bit overwhelming at first, so it's essential to start with a plan. When you open your foster home, it's also necessary to understand your responsibilities as a foster parent. To help with this, here are some tips to prepare you for fostering.
Things to Know Before Bringing Your Foster Feline Home
The rescue institution will give you a relatively simple rundown of what to anticipate. Keep these questions in mind:
What supplies do you need to give? Is there a certain kind of cat litter, litterbox, food bowls, food, carrier, and so on that the cat needs?
Discuss your foster cat's disposition and also any special needs.
Does the foster feline have any physical limitations? If so, discuss your options for setting up the foster space to address them. For instance, an elderly kitty might require a low-sided litter box easier accessibility. An obese cat might need a slow-feeding dish.
Any routines to know about? Chewing, scratching, climbing, loud meowing. Is the cat an escape artist? A messy eater? Spraying? (that's an important thing to know), and so on
Any dislikes? The rescue team might have some to share. For instance, does your future foster cat have a favorite toy or bed? Do they enjoy having something to climb up or do not like getting belly rubs?
What are the plans for handling clinical and behavioral problems and emergency scenarios? Each rescue organization is different. So knowing this in advance makes dealing with issues, when they come, a lot easier.
Ask if they have a social area or a website for foster guardians to share their stories. Several organizations have these, and it can be a fantastic source as you browse various foster situations or wish to get in touch with fellow foster guardians.
Learn about Your Foster Cat's Background
Often, there isn't much history readily available for a rescued cat. However, I recommend learning anything that you can. This truly helps you better recognize your foster cat's personality and behavior. Their previous experiences might influence their habits, and knowing their background will give you insights as to why they behave a certain way. It will also help you avoid triggering your foster cat with undue stress or anxiety.
Set Up Your Foster Cat's Space
A small and cozy area away from people and other pets will help new foster feline (and any adopted cat!) feel safe and get comfortable quicker. The fewer new things they're compelled to engage in within the first couple of days, the less tension they're likely to feel. Naturally, once they prepare to venture out, you can let them explore. You can move their essentials (food, litterbox, and so on) appropriately, perhaps to let them share space with other pets (if allowed by the rescue organization).
Giving a dedicated area also gives you more control over unwanted circumstances and limits the cat's access to hiding places. You don't want your new foster cat wedged behind your fridge or making a run for it when the front door opens, right?
Where Should This Dedicated Space Be?
The easiest choice is spare space, like a guest space or a spare bathroom. If you don't have an extra area, you can use space with a door that does not get busy throughout the day, like a bathroom, bedroom, or utility room. It is also essential to keep other pets out. Make sure you enclose hard-to-reach hiding locations, like under the bed. Or, you might have a partially separated area that doesn't have a door, like a dining room or a workplace nook, which can work too if you block the access with a gate.
Cats are more challenging to restrict than dogs in a space without a door. If you foster a climber, try to construct a divider made of light materials and lean it up against the wall. You can secure it with some furniture, tape, tacks, or whatever else you have around your house. Make sure it's strong enough that your foster cat will not have the ability to knock over.
If none of this is possible, work with what you have and do your best to secure the room. Enclose any concealing areas that might be dangerous or that you wouldn't have the ability to access, like the back of a refrigerator, open-air vents, and packed storage rooms. Try to keep things tranquil and quiet for a couple of days.
Offer Your Foster Cat Some Place to Hide
I motivate you to develop a comfortable little hiding spot for your foster feline--just a little, protected nook where they can tuck in and feel safe. It is necessary for any cat in any stage of life to have a location to escape to when they feel overwhelmed, frightened, or need a silent moment. Not only does it help them calm down, but it can also boost their self-confidence.
Not having that escape choice to a hiding place can result in instability that affects their behavior on many levels. This is more true with cats coming fresh out of a sanctuary experience.
You can use several things to develop a hiding spot:
- Tossing a sheet over a chair or other furniture to produce a covered tent-like area.
- Using a tiny kennel, pop-up enclosure, and even a box, again covered with a sheet or covering and a cozy bed inside.
- An easy cardboard box with an open front.
Ensure that food, water, and a litter box are close by, at the very least, till your foster cat clears up. They should have simple access without needing to go also very far from their hiding place.
No Other Pets in the House?
If you do not have other family pets in your home, your foster will be lucky to have all of your attention. It's still handy to give that dedicated space initially, however, up until you gauge each other. The feline will need time to accustom on their terms, so it's best to respect their timing.
However, having other pets in the house can be excellent for fostering.
Your foster might have dealt with canines and cats in a previous house and took pleasure in the friendship. Seeing your other pets' interaction might help show your foster what a family is all about. It can open up paths for adoption if they have been shown to quadrate other pets.
If they're previous strays, did not have any siblings, or weren't able to stay with their mom long enough, they may require help in learning just how to "be a cat." With time and persistence, they'll discover how to communicate and bond with people, understand how to play without being harsh, and make their way around the home.
Other Crucial Fostering Tips
It requires time for any cat to learn the ins and outs of a new home and for you to discover the habits of a new foster cat. You need to look at your foster area with fresh eyes like you would with a child learning to crawl. You must ensure that your home is "cat-proofed" to keep your foster cat or foster kitten's stay risk-free. Bear in mind that each cat is unique, and so are their reactions to objects and circumstances. Don't presume that because your other pet has never chewed your phone charger, that your foster cat won't. Presume they will until they don't.
Here are other things to consider (and why it's easier to initially put your foster out in a dedicated area until you are more accustomed to each other):
1. Your Foster Cat May Like High Places
Please take a look around for high furniture that might tip over, shelves they could be able to jump onto, and other elevated perches. Ensure these are safe to lessen the chance of accidents.
2. Do a scan for poisonous things
Be wary of everyday things that you may otherwise leave out on the counter, like onions, some artificial sweeteners, grapes, as well as early morning coffee that can be unsafe for cats to consume.
3. Stay clear of lilies in your home!
If you wish to include some plants in your house, look at this checklist of cat-safe plants.
Numerous felines like to chew on anything green and leafy. Usual plants like aloe are harmful. Please take into consideration placing plants on hard-to-reach shelves, behind glass in curio-style cupboards, and even hanging on places far enough from your foster cat's jumping-off areas.
You may keep your plants in closets, perhaps under the sink. Keep in mind that cats are smart. Some can even open closet doors.
4. See to it you do not have a getaway outdoors
See to it that windows on other openings are secured if your cats attempt to jump with the window. This misfortune commonly occurs that there's a term for it in the veterinary world: high-rise syndrome.
Take care when opening doors! Please talk with your family and guests about making sure they close doors rapidly behind them and open with care when going inside. You may have trained your pet enough not to head out upon seeing an open door, but your foster animal won't be.
5. Consider moving things that can be ruined
Just for a while, you might want to take your Grandmother's china or your costly champagne grooves off the shelf that sits right by the sunniest home window in your home. If you have cats, you know that they will knock things over. Until you know how your foster feline will move around the house, move the important stuff out of your cat's reach.
Foster Cat Expectations
My advice is this try not to have them! Focus on what you can offer, and then go with the flow. You never know what each new foster feline will be. That's part of the fun!
It may not go exactly as you imagined. Your foster cat might take time to be out of its "shell." Your pet may not be the kitty cuddler you were expecting. However, that does not make the experience any less!
What you're providing for that little fluff ball will transform their lives and the lives of the lucky household that will eventually embrace them. Just open your mind and your heart, offer what you can, and find joy in the cat fostering experience, whatever it might be.