Fostering: Is It For You?

Alana here!

Crepes is still in exile, but she’ll be back soon, and by then we’ll likely have handed off our fosters to a new foster mom. We’ve had them for a week now and I’ve been thinking a lot about fostering. There are lots of people who still don’t know much about it. What is it? How do you do it? Does it cost anything? Let’s discuss.

our fosters Hash and Tot popping out of their box.
our fosters Hash and Tot popping out of their box.

First off, what’s the best way to get started in fostering? Simple. Contact your local rescue and ask them if you can apply for their foster program. They’ll usually ask you to fill out an application (you’ll be taking in their kittens to your home, so it’s similar to an adoption application) and then tell them what kinds of cats you’d like to foster. For instance, do you want bottle babies? Do you want weaned kittens? Would you prefer older cats? That’s something you have to decide, but here are a few things to keep in mind (and this is by no means an exhaustive list).

Fostering bottle babies requires you to:

  • Feed them. If they’re under four weeks old, you’ll likely be feeding every 2 hours. At about four weeks, you might be around every 4 hours. This includes during the night, so set your alarms!
  • Wash them. This might be a bath in the sink or daily with a wash cloth after they eat. They’re messy.
  • Keep them warm. You need to provide a heating pad and check it frequently to make sure it’s on and not too warm.
  • Hold them. Kittens love to be held. They’ll scream at you to let you know this.
  • Weigh them. Kittens need to be weighed daily to make sure they’re growing properly and eating enough.
  • Burp them AND assist them with pooping. Hurray! (Edit: I forgot to add this one to the list, but was reminded by Random Felines. Maybe I just wanted to forget.)
Tot finishing up her snack and posing for a photo. Yum!
Tot finishing up her snack and posing for a photo. Yum!

Fostering weaned kittens requires you to:

  • Play with them frequently.
  • Keep them out of trouble.
  • Provide cleaning and love.
  • Take them to vet checks.
  • Care for them after their spay/neuter surgery.

Fostering adult cats requires:

  • A safe place for them to live.
  • Love and snuggling.
  • Transportation to adoption events and vet appointments.
All done with snack time!
All done with snack time!

Fostering special needs cats requires doing things above and beyond the aforementioned items. For instance, you might need to:

  • Administer medication. Are you comfortable with this?
  • Administer subcutaneous fluids. Is that something you’re ok with?
  • Spend extra time socializing the cat in the event that you’re fostering one with emotional needs or fear issues.

You can also specify if you want to be a long-term or short-term foster. We ourselves have done mostly short-term, anywhere from a few days to provide safety while a long-term foster is found to six weeks for Crepes and her siblings. Some people foster for a year or more if the animal is having trouble finding a home. Work with your rescue to figure out what you can do.

Vet bills, food, etc. are often covered by the rescue, as well. You can figure out what’s required of you when you apply. This is not an exhaustive list, by any means. The needs are different for every cat/litter you take in. Your rescue may also have special rules, and some may be more flexible than others in what kinds of services you have to provide.

The last part is, of course, the hardest: Letting go when it’s time. We’ve fostered maybe ten kittens thus far. Even though it’s only been a week, we’ve really started to love little Hash (Brown) and (Tater) Tot. Their faces are darling and they like us, but it’s just about time for them to move on. We’ll find comfort in knowing that we saved their lives and they’ll have a wonderful future to look forward to because we helped. We had a hard time saying goodbye to Crepes’ siblings. I cried a lot when I let them go, but they have great homes now. And, of course, I couldn’t say goodbye at all to Crepes. Sometimes that happens, and that’s ok.

Fosters are always in demand. Fosters save the lives of kitties who have no where to go.

A few weeks of your time could mean two decades of life for a kitty. Please foster if you can. It would mean the world to so many little lives.






  • I heard the sad news that you lost dear Rocky, so I dropped by to leave you some love, some rumbly purrs and a hug from my ape. We are so sorry, may happy memories of him bring you comfort soonest

    Run free Rocky,

    & The Ape xx

  • There isn’t room here for Mum to foster any cats but she sponsors a cage at the Cats Protection League here in the UK – we have wonderful feedback and pictures of them from them. They let us know when they find their furever homes and then keep us updated with their new arrivals..
    Luv Hannah and Lucy xx xx

  • Great post! We wish we had the room to foster, but we have a teeny tiny apartment…


  • What a winner blog of information. I Tweeted it. I am so awfully emotional that I would be a basketcase giving anyone up. One of the reasons I have’t tried so far. xo

  • I would also recommend that anyone who wants to foster kittens – who has cats – have the ability to separate foster kittens from resident cats. Vaccines are not 100% effective, so there is risk, and there are issues that do not have vaccines, from something as simple as the corona virus which can cause digestive upset, to FIP. There are very few people who do this, but those of us who do do so because there was an issue.

  • Hi : I foster, usually little ones, we’ve never had to bottle feed for more than a day or two to supplement them until they got used to “slurry” (canned cat food of the pate variety mixed with a lot of kitten milk replacer). I love it, because I get to have itty bitties in the house, and I get to play with them, and laugh at their funny antics, and watch them grow, and see their faces the first time they bat a ball across the floor, and…. I could go on all night! And they don’t grow up to be big cats, I have two big cats as it is, and that’s enough!

  • The mom would love to do some fostering, but she doesn’t think we would like it…and she’s probably right. We think those that do fostering are angels. There’s not enough of them.

    BTW, those kits are just the cutest.

  • de food serviss gurl keepz sayin thiz iz what her iz gonna due when her re tirez…her better getz lotz oh courage bee tween now N then…. ore start stockin up on tissuez coz we noe her will be bawlin like a wee babee when de kittehz ….” leeve home”

    happee week oh end two all N heerz ta lemon sole & lake trout β™₯

  • Mom is sponsoring Swizzle at PAWS since we eight won’t let her foster. And she has another kitty who she helps with vet bills. Hash and Tot are so amazingly adorable. Mom says that she’s not sure she could send them on their way. Thanks for helping these kitties. XO, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

  • Love this. We fostered two kittens for Tree House last year and are fostering four for Tree House right now. Each has been longer-termed than expected: the first because the kittens needed more socialization (they were right at the borderline of becoming feral) and the current batch because heart murmurs delayed their being spayed and neutered (that’s being done today — yay!). So the length of time kittens or cats are with you can vary, depending on circumstances.

  • We’ve fostered for Operation Noble Foster. Knowing that a kitty has a loving human who is deployed and will be coming back makes it a TINY bit easier to let them go when t he time comes. The fosters we’ve had have all be adult kitties.

    The Florida Furkids

  • Thanks for the post. I think it would be hard to let them go after you cared for them too.
    Sue B

  • well put. if more people would step up and foster, more lives could be saved. and fyi on those bottle babies – gotta burp them and make them pee too. πŸ™‚

    • Edited to include that! Thanks for the reminder. I knew I was forgetting something. πŸ™‚

  • Great post. Fostering is something I’ve thought a lot about and would love to do — my hang ups are the fact that I can see myself having a really hard time letting them go and most likely being a foster failure. Which would be okay if I didn’t already have 5 cats! haha. Also, our house is pretty full and Delilah has a hard time when we bring in anyone new. I imagine her being pretty upset about new kitties coming in and out. I still haven’t come to a final decision yet though. This post helped! Sharing.

    • Thank you! I”m glad to hear this post is helping. It’s NOT easy to let them go. We have a 10% failure rate so far – fostered 10, kept 1 (Crepes.) But it’s always been fun, and in this case, we know for SURE these cats wouldn’t be alive if we hadn’t taken them, and knowing how sweet they are, that would have been a tragedy for the world.

  • Thanks for the post. A lot of good information. I’ve always shied away from fostering because I don’t think I could stand to let the kitties go when it’s time but your post has given me a lot to think about.

    • It’s time for us to let these two go tomorrow – We really don’t want to. Of course I’ve thought of all the ways we could keep them, but we just can’t right now. I try to imagine they’re going to grow up to be surly kitties with bad attitudes so I don’t miss them as much, even though I know that’s not true. πŸ™‚

    • I would rather have my heart broken by having to give them up then broken thinking about them being put down because I didn’t step up.

  • Thanks for summing up fostering! It gives humans something practical to think about, other than the cuteness.

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