Congratulations on your decision to foster a cat in your home! You will temporarily be giving a home to a cat from the pet shelter that needs some special attention. To make the experience smoother for you and the cat, you need to be ready for the commitment and prepare your house for the new guest. Here is how to get ready for your first cat-fostering assignment.
1. Create a space in your home exclusively for the cat.
Initially, your foster cat needs its own space in which to settle into your home where it won't be disturbed by other pets or family members. A spare bedroom or guestroom will work, but remove the bed so you won't have to constantly hunt under it to find your new ward if they are nervous. Provide some cat furniture from one of the pet supply stores in your area, such as Mid Cape Pet and Seed Supply, Inc. At a minimum, you should have these things in the room.
- Litter box—Get one with a lid to minimize litter being kicked out of the box and onto the floor.
- Scratching post—Buy a scratching post with a platform on the top for the cat to climb up onto.
- Cat bed—Find a bed that has covers that are easy to remove for cleaning.
- Food and water dishes—Metal dishes are easier to keep clean than plastic.
- Various cat toys—Small toys that the cat can chase or carry around the room are inexpensive and easy to replace, yet still provide your cat with some exercise.
2. Be prepared to give up the room for the duration of the visit.
You may get a younger cat that needs to be socialized with other people and pets. After a few days in isolation in your home, you can gradually introduce the cat to the household. But some older cats have established behaviors, and they will not adjust to other pets or people. These cats will stay in your room for the duration for which you're fostering them. This means you may have to give up the space for several weeks until you take the cat back to the shelter.
3. Learn emergency basics from your local veterinarian.
The shelter likely has a training class for people fostering cats. You'll also benefit from some additional instruction from your veterinarian. Schedule some time with the veterinarian or vet assistant to go over such items as
- dealing with injuries such as animal bites and broken bones
- preparing an injured cat for transport to the animal hospital
- how to spot the signs of a cat in pain or with a serious health issue
Also get phone numbers for emergency animal hospitals in the area and pet poison-control databases.
When you and your home are prepared for your feline visitor, you'll be able to focus on the cat's needs. You'll enjoy your fostering experience more and will hopefully continue volunteering your services to care for shelter cats in need of a little help.