Shelters across the country are in constant and desperate need of foster homes. By opening your home to a foster cat, you are enabling your local shelter to save more cats, and you can give a second chance to a cat that can’t thrive in a shelter environment. Fostering cats, of course, can help and heal you as much as the cats you rescue. In fact, for many people, fostering may be a better option than making a long-term commitment to adopt a cat.

Fostering is not as simple as picking up a cat from the shelter and bringing it home. There are a few things you can do to make your home, your temporary cat, and yourself safer and more comfortable during your stay.

1. Protect your home from cats

Everything from an exposed power cord to a stray hair clip can be a danger to a cat. This article from the Humane Society of the United States offers great ideas on how to cat-proof your home in 12 easy steps. Kittens, who are naturally smaller and more playful, require additional preparation.


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2. Prepare a private room with everything you need.

Make sure you have everything you need before you take your foster cat home. If he doesn’t have immediate access to a litter box, food, or water, it will only make an already stressful situation worse for him. Having a private room where he can hide for a few days while he gets used to the new sounds and smells in your home will help ease his anxiety. This quiet, private space should include a clean litter box, food, freshwater, a scratching post, a cat bed, and toys.


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3. Be generous with gifts

Treats are a great way to help your foster cat associate you with something positive, especially in the beginning, when she is unsure of her new surroundings.


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4. Be careful how you introduce resident animals.

When you introduce a foster cat to your home, it’s a good idea to separate it from the resident cats for at least a few days. This separation will allow her to become accustomed to the sounds and smells of your home before dealing with the complexities of a feline relationship.

When you are ready to introduce your foster cat to your indoor cats, there are a few things you can do to make this introduction as easy as possible with minimal stress. Since your foster cat may stay with you for several weeks or months, you need to acclimate him or her to your house cats as you would a long-time cat. The ASPCA has an excellent article on how to do this.


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5. Have enough time and energy to devote to cleaning.

If you decide to become a foster parent, dedicate the time and energy to create a stable, loving, nurturing, and rewarding home. In addition to the basics such as food, freshwater, and a clean litter box, be sure to include plenty of play, patience, and petting. When you adopt kittens, you need to spend more time socializing them.


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6. You have the option of transporting your foster cat to appointments.

Depending on your foster cat’s specific situation, he or she may need to travel a bit while in your home. If your foster cat is recovering from surgery or illness, he or she may have regular check-ups with the shelter veterinarian. If you have kittens, they may need to be transported for spaying or neutering. Even healthy cats sometimes need to be transported to adoption events.

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