Kitten Foster Program
Any kitten under 8 weeks of age (or weighing less than two pounds) cannot physically stay in the shelter because they are too young to be vaccinated and their immune systems aren't developed which leaves them at great risk of becoming sick. Foster families are needed to care for kittens until they are weaned and old enough to be spayed/neutered and placed up for adoption.
Why should I foster kittens?
- Fostering kittens opens up life-saving cage space in the shelter for the next ones coming in.
- Kittens will be healthier. Young kittens do not have fully developed immune systems and each day they are in the shelter puts them at greater risk of getting sick. A home environment provides them with the best chance of staying healthy. If they do get sick, they will recover more quickly in a home.
- Fostering provides individualized attention and socialization to kittens preparing them to be wonderful and social companions.
- Fostering is a rewarding experience, knowing you’ve made a direct impact on those animals’ lives.
What cats and kittens need fostering?
- Pregnant cats
- Mom cats with nursing kittens
- Young kittens (under 8 weeks of age, or under 2 pounds)
- Kittens needing socialization
- Cats or kittens with medical needs
What supplies will I need for fostering?
- Animal Services will provide you with all necessary supplies ie. kitten milk replacement formula, food, litter, litter boxes, bedding, a cage etc.
- You will need a place to keep the foster kittens and separate them from other family pets. Some people use an extra bedroom, bathroom or space in a finished basement.
How long will I have fosters?
- That will depend on the age/health of the kittens. Kittens will need to be at least 2 pounds or 8 weeks of age to return to the shelter to be spayed/neutered and placed up for adoption. Some kittens stay in foster homes longer if they are recovering from an illness or require more socialization.
What training will I need?
- Animal Services will provide you with the training you need. Animal Service’s foster coordinator and animal care staff are available 6 days a week for questions/concerns. An emergency number will be given to all fosters for after hours emergencies.
How much time will I need to spend with foster kittens?
- Young kittens that are still on the bottle are time intensive. They will need to be fed every 3-4 hours during the day and night. Kittens at this age cannot eliminate on their own and will need to be manually eliminated (to urinate and defecate) by the foster parent a few times a day.
- Mother cats with nursing kittens. The great news is that the mom cat does all the work! You will need to provide food and water and clean the litter box daily as well as monitor the kittens daily for weight gain. As the kittens get older you will need to play with them to make sure they are socialized.
- Sick cats/kittens may require medication to be administered multiple times a day.
- Kittens needing socialization. Kittens that have been living outside on their own may be scared of humans and will require a lot of socialization. Socializing kittens takes a lot of time, patience and consistency.
- All kittens will need playtime and exercise daily.
Can I adopt my foster kittens?
- Yes! You will have to fill out an application and go through the adoption process. Please note you will need to stay within the legal limit of animals allowed in your municipality and you will need to pay any adoption fees.
What are the risks associated with fostering?
- All animals will have been health checked prior to going into foster homes, however there is always a chance that a foster kitten may have an illness that is not able to be detected at the time of examination. Kittens may carry diseases that can be spread to humans (zoonotic diseases) or other animals in the home.
- You will be responsible for any vet care that your own pets may require as a result of having foster kittens in your home.
- Failure to thrive or fading kitten syndrome. Not all kittens will survive and it is possible to have a kitten die of natural causes or need to be humanely euthanized while in foster care. The reasons for this are varied and may have to do with environmental factors such as maternal neglect; physical factors such as congenital birth defects, low birth weight, anemia; or various infections. Please know you are not at fault should this happen while a kitten is in your care.
- Saying good-bye. Foster families can become extremely attached to the cats and kittens in their care. It is normal to feel sad when returning them. Please know that when they are back at the shelter they will receive the highest quality of care and will have many opportunities to play with other kittens and with volunteers. You have played a vital role in keeping them healthy and giving them the chance they needed to find a loving home. Thank you for opening your heart and your home to these little ones!