Foster families save lives by freeing up space in your shelter, socializing animals, assisting with preventing disease transmission in the shelter and within foster pets—and even by helping to place animals.
Sometimes our new cat rescues require the personalized care and peaceful surroundings that only one of our volunteer foster homes can provide. Becoming a foster parent can be a very rewarding experience. It can also be very time-consuming, depending on your foster cat or kitten’s individual circumstances.
Foster care requires patience, a compassionate nature, a flexible lifestyle and some experience and knowledge of feline behavior. Below are some of the needs our foster cats require at various stages of life. They will give you more details on the joys and responsibilities of being a foster parent.
Fostering Adult Cats:
At first, your cat may be nervous or scared—they may need time to adjust to their new surroundings and new people
Approach your foster cat calmly and slowly, in a non-threatening way
Don’t give your new foster cat run of house right away—start by confining him/her to a bathroom or spare room at first
If you have cats of your own, keep them separated until the health of your new charge can be assured
Provide a cozy bed, a bowl of fresh water and clean litter at all times
Don’t allow the cats to go without eating for more than 24 hours—it can have be a signsomething is wrong and can serious health consequences—Call AnimalKind or a veterinarian
If your foster cat has to be coaxed to eat, try tempting them with treats like canned salmon or tuna
Fostering Orphan Kittens:
Because kittens are fragile, it is important for you to watch the behavior of your foster kittens closely and monitor their health daily. To keep track of their health, keep a journal of the kittens’ weight, eating habits and overall health. You should weigh the kittens daily to ensure that they are growing, and record the weight in the journal. Watch for signs of illness: including frequent crying, restlessness, **weakness, coldness (hypothermia), diarrhea, dehydration, shallow or labored breathing, paleness or blueness in color. Notify AnimalKind immediately if a kitten is losing weight, is cold to the touch, or is having trouble breathing (either shallow or heavy breathing).
Distemper is cause by the panleukopenia virus, resulting in a fast decline and mortality in young kittens. If symptoms of lethargy, vomiting and/or diarriah occur contact AnimalKind at once.
In our twenty year history we encountered ONE kitten with rabies. Usually there are bite wounds of unknown origin present and we will isolate to kitten at AnimalKind. If a kitten in your care shows neurological signs please contact AnimalKind at once. Newborn kittens need to nurse every two to three hours**
Feed kittens while they are resting on their tummies—holding them on their backs to feed them can be dangerous because it can cause fluid to collect in their lungs
If you are unsure how to feed your kitten, ask your veterinarian, shelter or rescue group to show you the ideal ways to bottle feed kittens
Buy commercial kitten formula and a feeding bottle or syringe that holds between two and four ounces—feed slowly
Sterilize feeding bottles with boiling water before filling with kitten formula
DO NOT USE a microwave to sterilize the bottle—it creates hot spots that may burn kitten’s mouth, but you should set the filled bottle in a bowl of very warm water to keep it at the right temperature
Kittens need a place to nest, sleep and keep warm—a disposable cardboard box will work fine as a nesting box
Kittens will soil their nest box daily, so line it with washable or disposable bedding, such as newspaper or towels.
Keep your kitten warm by using a heating pad ONLY SET ON LOW! on one side of the nest box only, so that the kitten can move away if they get too warm—it is important to keep the pad at a low setting
Until kittens are three weeks old they need help urinating and defecating—after every feeding use a damp, slightly rough terrycloth washcloth to stimulate their anus and urinary openings
By four weeks of age you can introduce solid food—strained baby food meats or premium canned kitten foods are a good choice
As soon as the kitten starts eating solid food, a bowl of water should be available at all times
Kittens open their eyes at about two weeks and are moving around on their own by three weeks
Fostering Nursing Mother Cats:
Provide a box big enough for everyone, with side tall enough to keep kittens from falling out but low enough to allow access for the mother
Line the box with several layers of bedding so you can peel away layers as top layer needs changing
Let the mother cat feed and care for her kittens as long as she is actively engaged with them
Provide a nutrient-dense diet for the mother cats—Kitten food is ideal for the mother cat
Offer food several times a day or consider keeping a bowl of dry food available to her at all times
It’s normal for the mother cat to want time away from her kittens between feedings—once the kittens start exploring, you can keep them in a contain room with a gate that allows mother cat access
At about four weeks kittens will begin trying out moist kitten food—if any seem slow to begin feeding on their own, you can help by putting a bit on your finger for them to smell
We are always looking for new foster parents for our animals in need.