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4 Things to Consider Before Becoming a Foster Family for Cats

Keep these considerations in mind while deciding whether to foster cats.

If you're thinking about fostering cats, take a look at this checklist to determine whether it might be a good fit for your family.

Do You Have Room in Your Home?

Sometimes foster cats and kittens need to be separated from other cats. This might be because they have contagious upper respiratory infections or other viruses, or they might be affected by external or internal parasites.

If you have other cats in your home and you wish to become a foster family, you will need to be sure that you have a proper area that you can use to isolate the foster cats from your resident cats. This might be a small room or a whole area of your home, but it needs to be a place that can be closed off so the cats can't roam freely and interact. The space will need to be large enough for adequate play space, scratching posts, a litter box or two, and food and water dishes that are not near the litter boxes. If you don't have a space like this in your home and you have other cats, you may not be ready to provide foster care.

Do You Have Some Extra Time?

Taking care of foster cats and kittens does take a little bit of time. Sometimes, you need to be giving medications, hand feeding, bottle feeding, or monitoring sick cats or kittens closely. As a foster parent, you might be responsible for taking your charge(s) in to the veterinarian periodically, and you will need to be available for home visits of potential families or perhaps to take the cats to an adoption event.

Are the Cats in Your Household Already in Turmoil?

If you already have multiple cats and have any issues with them such as an appropriate elimination or improper scratching, it might not be a good time for you to foster cats. Stress is one of the biggest causes of inappropriate behaviors in cats, and if your multi-cat household already has such issues, having other cats in your home, even if they're separated, can increase that stress level.

If the cats in your home are pretty stable and not engaging in any inappropriate behaviors, you will still need to keep an eye on them when you bring the foster cats into the home. Consider using Feliway diffusers both for your resident cats and the fosters to help keep your household atmosphere nice and calm.

Are You Ready to Say Goodbye?

One thing you really need to do some thinking about ahead of time is the fact that you will need to say goodbye to your foster pets. Certainly, some foster cats end up becoming part of the family and being adopted, but that generally is not the intended outcome. Your job is to care for, socialize, and provide a safe home for the cats until they are ready to be adopted out and find permanent homes.

If you think it will be too hard on you or any member of your family to say goodbye to a foster cat, you might wish to find other ways to volunteer and help out. Shelters and rescue groups are usually looking for volunteers to do many things other than foster.

Fostering cats can be an extremely rewarding, helpful, and fun thing to do. You can be part of the miracle that is cat rescue and adoption, helping to fight overcrowding in shelters and euthanasia of healthy cats. If you think you might wish to be a foster parent but are still not sure if you're ready, consider talking to someone at your local shelter or rescue group for more information.

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