Even in the world of animal rescue, fostering is an often under-appreciated and misunderstood practice. To foster a cat or kitten is to welcome them into your home on a temporary basis while a shelter or rescue works on getting them permanently adopted. Their time with you might be short, but fostering is incredibly important and rewarding. Fosters are always in short supply, and there’s a good chance a rescue in your area is desperately in need of someone to take in a homeless cat or kitten.
Here are the top five reasons why you should consider submitting your name.
1. Fostering Saves Lives
It isn’t possible for shelters to save every cat in need. They need more space, more money, and more help. With fosters, however, shelters can maximize the number of animals they save.
Fostering frees up kennel space and makes room for more animals. It also gives animals that otherwise wouldn’t be ready for adoption (like tiny kittens, cats with medical issues, or cats that need more socialization) more time and a better shot at adoption. The bottom line is, without fosters, more cats would be euthanized and fewer cats would be rescued. When you foster a cat or kitten, not only do you help save that cat’s life, you also save the life of a cat that takes their place at the shelter.
2. Valuable Socialization
As much as shelter workers love the animals in their care, there’s only so much they can do within the confines of a shelter setting. The cats greatly outnumber staff and volunteers, and it’s impossible to give every homeless animal the individual attention they need to truly thrive. Fosters, however, have opportunities to give their foster babies personalized care.
They can work with an individual cat every day to help them get used to living in a home environment. Because so many shelter cats come in as strays, being comfortable with humans is an invaluable skill that they’ll need to get adopted. Without fosters, many cats suffer without proper socialization or attention.
3. Less Stress
A lack of socialization is only one of the downfalls of living in a shelter. Whether the shelter is cage-free, plays cat-friendly music, or enlists help from an army of volunteers, shelter life is always stressful. There are so many people coming and going, strange smells, unfamiliar animals, and scary sounds. Cats are naturally skittish to begin with, and living in a shelter is too often a stressful experience.
The daily stress can cause normally social cats to become aggressive or reclusive, which hurts their chances of getting adopted. It also doesn’t help those former strays that are just starting to learn what it means to be around humans. In the safety of a foster home, cats have a chance to decompress and relax before moving on.
4. Help Reduce The Number Of Unwanted Cats And Strays
Overpopulation is a serious issue. Every year shelters are overrun by litters of stray kittens with nowhere else to go. This puts a huge strain on finances and resources. The best long-term solution is to prevent accidental and unwanted births.
Most shelters offer low-cost spay/neuter services, and many also participate in TNR (trap, neuter, release) in attempts to reduce the local cat population. Those systems help, but fostering is a key part of that process. Fosters allow shelters to focus on spaying and neutering to help close the gap between the number of cats in need of homes and the number of people willing to adopt.
5. Cat Cuddles With No Commitment
While choosing to foster a cat or kitten benefits animals in multiple ways, fosters also reap a few personal rewards. For one, fostering is a way to fulfill your desire to love on cats without taking on a permanent responsibility. Most cats and kittens stay with their fosters for only a few weeks.
This gives you the chance to get in all the cuddles you want. You also won’t need to take on the expense of having a permanent live-in cat, because the shelter will most likely cover all costs including food, litter, and vet visits.
No matter which way you look at it, fostering save lives and provides a rewarding experience for everyone involved—human and feline. What are you waiting for?