Cat Fostering

What is cat fostering? Learn more here and at a webinar Oct. 11.

By Dusty Rainbolt

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8-week-old Kitten
Join a live discussion about the ins and outs of cat fostering. Visit and sign up — even if you cannot attend during the scheduled time, you will gain access to the archived version by registering.

Cat fostering takes support from the community to maintain no-kill shelters and rescue organizations. Volunteer foster homes provide easy, inexpensive ways for humane groups to save animals. Fostering cats reminds me of the old army slogan, “The toughest job you’ll ever love.” You give the cat or kitten a temporary home. You invest love and effort into the cat’s physical and emotional recovery. Finally, he or she loves you, trusts you and then, like star-crossed lovers, it’s time to let him or her go. The toughest part comes when you say goodbye. Fostering cats is difficult and emotional, but it’s for a higher cause with a broader picture.

Both municipal and nonprofit dog and cat shelters utilize foster homes. However, foster homes especially benefit rescue organizations around the country that can’t afford a shelter or that would rather invest their financial resources in the animals rather than a building, its staffing and upkeep. Even shelters that house animals on site occasionally use foster homes for nice animals with special needs.

In many communities, volunteer foster networks and no-kill rescue groups remove most of the adoptable animals from shelters that euthanize, put them in foster homes, and then place them in forever homes through adopt-a-pet events. PetSmart, PETCO and many independent dog and cat stores provide a place for the public to meet the available animals and for the rescuers to screen potential adopters.

The Top 10 Benefits of Fostering Cats

1. Fostering saves millions of cats’ and dogs’ lives each year.

2. Fostering gives one-on-one attention to orphans and animals with trust issues that shelters otherwise would have to euthanize immediately.

3. Fostering allows cats to live in a home environment and become accustomed to typical sights, sounds and smells rather than being confined to a cage.

4. Fostering allows the foster owner to get to know the cat and give potential adopters a better idea about its personality.

5. Fostering helps socialize shy cats.

6. Fostering helps shelters build their facilities as well as keep them staffed.

7. Fostering allows parents who want their kids to experience the miracle of birth to do so without adding to the pet population by fostering a pregnant queen.

8. Fostering cats provides short-term companions for seniors without the personal pet expenses.

9. Fostering gives you an opportunity to really get to know a cat before you make a long-term commitment.

10. Fostering allows you to have no out-of-pocket expenses except food and litter because many rescue groups pay for all the foster cat’s medical needs. All you add is love.

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Reader Comments

John    Farmingville, NY

6/7/2012 2:52:32 PM

I think it's a great idea. Something in the future perhaps. I think it would be really hard to give the kitty up. I would probably be the future home as well.

Ann    Newark, NJ

3/12/2012 9:25:41 PM

nice to know.

Joesph    denver, CO

3/2/2012 5:48:31 PM

I have not fostered a cat or a kitten but i would really like to foster one though! I just have one little cute kitten named Meadow who is a gorgeous manx!! I have many stray cats in my neighborhood that i feed and love everyday! I am trying to catch them, spay and neauter them, and find them new homes! There is this 6 month old tortie cat who is a stray that comes to my porch everyday and never misses a meal. I am thinking of catching her, spaying her, and keeping her myself! She is a beauty! I love cats and kittens!!!!

Vendetta    McMinnville, TN

2/25/2012 2:20:52 PM

I am fostering a stray cat that I found. It has cost me $200.00 just to get him ready for adoption.
The poor guy had a festering sore on his leg that might have been from a burn. Took him to vet and by the time they tended to his wound,bathed him, neutered him and gave him his shots,I don't know if I can afford to help another poor stray.

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