Tips for successful fostering of cats

Fostering cats is the best way many of us can help save unwanted pets from a fate worse than death without becoming one of those cat freaks’ who end up with dozens of the furry critters and ending up on the evening news wearing a head coat’.

We were a foster family for cats for a number of years and found it a very rewarding experience. There are a few precautions you should take and steps to take to ensure it’s a positive experience for all involved.

Quarantine: If you already have pets in your home, or even if you don’t, it’s best to keep the foster kitties in an area in a place of their own. Stray cats can carry a deadly feline virus and transfer it to your pets, they also often have fleas or other situations that you want to keep your own pets and family safe from. We have a bathroom upstairs that we use for isolating pets. (I now am a foster Mom for Havanese dogs as family members are allergic to cats).

Approach your foster pets very calmly and cautiously. Often they are terrified from their experiences on the road’ or have been removed from an abusive situation. It will take time and patience for you to socialize them’ and get them ready to live with people and other animals again. Leave them alone for the most part, and a few times a day just sit quietly on the floor nearby and read or talk to them softly so they’ll come to trust people. Avoid looming over them, as this can be very frightening for a little animal. Let them come to you and they’ll do quite a bit of sniffing and observing. Make no sudden moves. A soothing, positive tone of voice does a lot to help them feel safe.

You may have to potty train’ them, although most cat will use a litter box as they find it preferable to a floor. Provide a littler box and keep it cleaned.

Put a box or basket in their room and make bed, a a sort of nest’ with old towels. This way, if they do have fleas or tummy issues, the bedding will be easy to wash and replace.

Don’t scold them for any reason. They won’t understand this and it can set their progress toward socialization. Praising preferable behavior is key.

Provide a soft cat-nip toy to keep with them. Later you can use the more active toys, after they’ve settled in.

Wash your hands before and after you handle the cats or their bedding or litter pan.

A window or door wall with a southern exposure is good, as they need to sunbath to absorb essential vitamins. Also, for most cats this is one of their favorite things to do!

Provide a scratching post and if you have kittens, show them how to use it. Rub a little catnip on it to make it more enjoyable for them. You may not have to teach an older cat, but they may need to be redirected if they prefer furniture. You want to teach them everything you can to make them good pets for future adoptive families.

Last, but not least, keep in mind that you are a foster family and an adoptive family will take them from you. I am able to do this because I know I can save more animals by fostering and keep in mind from the first moment I see my foster babies that they are only visitors. If you keep this mindset, it will be easier to give them up when the time comes. The satisfaction you feel when uniting a once homeless and frightened kitty with a loving family who will give them a long, happy, healthy live.

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