June is Adopt A Shelter Cat Month, and while adoption is the ultimate goal for every dog or cat that enters a shelter, today I want to talk to you about something else that is super important: fostering.
Shelters and rescues rely on foster families to increase the organization’s capacity to care for more pets and find them loving, forever homes. Although fostering is a vital part of animal welfare efforts, many would-be foster parents aren’t sure what exactly fostering entails, so they are hesitant to get involved. That’s why I want to share some valuable information with you today.
Foster Families Save Lives – There’s no doubt about it: people who foster cats (and dogs!) are performing a critical role in saving pets’ lives. Not only will you be helping to socialize a cat, but you’re also getting her out of the shelter environment where she can relax and show her true personality. It’s extremely helpful for potential adopters to know what a cat is like in a home setting.
And, of course, every cat you bring into your home creates space in the shelter or rescue for another kitty in need. Every spot counts!
Fostering is Not Adopting – Some people are afraid that fostering means the cat might end up staying forever. And, yes, sometimes that happens! This is good-naturedly referred to as a “foster fail”. However, you are not obligated to keep the cat for any longer than you are comfortable doing so.
Organizations are most interested in finding homes for the cats in foster care. The more forever homes they find for the cats, the more kitties they can help. And, if you enjoy fostering, the faster the organization adopts a cat from your home, the sooner they can place another needy fur ball into your loving care.
Foster families are valuable resources, so it’s in an organization’s best interest to cater to your situation and willingness to help.
You Can Choose the Type of Cat – Again, organizations rely on caring foster parents to help with the cats in their care, so you can designate what type of cat you are most comfortable fostering, be it a lap cat or a trio of frisky kittens. A rescue or shelter is not going to stick you with a problem cat if you’re not up to the task.
You Can Agree on the Financial Obligation Up Front – Many foster families do spend their own money on their feline charges, but only because they choose to do so. Shelters and rescues often help pay for the foster cat’s food, supplies, and medical needs while the kitty is in your care. Other organizations may rely on their foster families to contribute.
Make sure you’re clear up front about what costs, if any, you might be covering before you agree to foster. And, by the way, money you spend on foster animals is tax deductible.
Getting Attached is Normal – Many foster parents admit to becoming attached to the cats in their care, and they describe it as both a happy and sad feeling when their furry charges go to their forever homes. Remember, you are saving lives and that kind of good can come with lots of emotions. Your sadness will soon turn to happiness and gratitude that your foster cat has found a loving forever home. What a precious gift!
Fostering is one of the most significant ways you can help your local shelter or rescue. If you’re considering it, why not give it a shot? This low cost, low risk service can make a big difference in a cat’s life… and might just change yours, too.
Have you ever fostered a cat or dog? I’d love to hear your story – please share it in a comment below!