Author Topic: Fostering cats - experiences?  (Read 749 times)

Sibley

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Fostering cats - experiences?
« on: June 24, 2019, 10:29:17 AM »
I currently have 1 cat, who doesn't seem particularly thrilled about being the only cat. I am (emotionally) not ready to adopt another cat, plus the issue of choosing just the right adult cat to be friends with Arwen, not happening right now. The solution I'm considering is to try fostering. I've reached out to the local animal shelter and initial response has been positive. So this may very well happen.

Any lessons to share? Pitfalls? Things I should consider? I'm gone about 12 hours a day due to work, and I do have a room that I can segregate a kitty into.

wenchsenior

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Re: Fostering cats - experiences?
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2019, 01:11:09 PM »
We've successfully fostered a few kittens over the years, BUT 1) I work from home and was able to spend a ton of time taming the little ferals down to be cuddly; 2) we had a spare room separate from our 2-3 other cats, so everyone had time to chill out away from each other (feral kittens are absolutely food-obsessed and will try to steal adult cats' food); 3) our adult cats are fairly mellow, and even so there were a couple incidents of stress-peeing or territorial marking by a couple of our established adults.  If your current cat is not very easy going, there can be problems.  Also, some kittens require a fair amount of litter box training, while others take right to it, and you have to really be on top of that in the early days so a bad pattern isn't established.

We are currently managing this situation again with a new feral kitten (one that we are keeping), but things are settling down after a the first couple of months of need-for-attention and mild conflicts with our two adult cats.  They still need their separate spaces at night though...they each get a spare bedroom.

Sibley

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Re: Fostering cats - experiences?
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2019, 07:31:16 PM »
Cool, thanks. We'll see what they say. I was very upfront about my schedule, and I will definitely consider that before accepting a cat. I don't want to commit to caring for an animal that I can't actually care for.

SunnyDays

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Re: Fostering cats - experiences?
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2019, 12:57:53 PM »
Make sure any cat you take in has been tested for FeLV and FIV, since these are easily transmitted in close quarters and eventually fatal.  My dad took in a starving, freezing cat this winter, who turned out to be FeLV positive.  While healthy now, her life-span is expected to only be another year or so, and in the meantime, I have to keep my cats separate when visiting, which has proven to be rather a nightmare.

wenchsenior

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Re: Fostering cats - experiences?
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2019, 02:13:46 PM »
Make sure any cat you take in has been tested for FeLV and FIV, since these are easily transmitted in close quarters and eventually fatal.  My dad took in a starving, freezing cat this winter, who turned out to be FeLV positive.  While healthy now, her life-span is expected to only be another year or so, and in the meantime, I have to keep my cats separate when visiting, which has proven to be rather a nightmare.

Great point. I'm smacking myself for not mentioning that.  Of the ferals we've fostered, we either trap them and transport them immediately to the vet for these tests, or we sequester them in a closed room away from our cats until we can get them tested and for about a week to ten days after they are tested, just to reduce cross infection risks.

Also, feral kittens are very susceptible to some common, treatable viruses (like feline herpesvirus) that have eye infection and/or inflammation as a secondary infection.  The eye thing has to be caught and treated quickly b/c it can literally eat the eyeball out of the socket within a week or so.  We've killed a number of eyeless, starving feral kittens in our neighborhood over the years.

SunnyDays

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Re: Fostering cats - experiences?
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2019, 10:14:53 AM »
Also, feral kittens are very susceptible to some common, treatable viruses (like feline herpesvirus) that have eye infection and/or inflammation as a secondary infection.  The eye thing has to be caught and treated quickly b/c it can literally eat the eyeball out of the socket within a week or so.  We've killed a number of eyeless, starving feral kittens in our neighborhood over the years.

Oh, that breaks my heart!  Good on you for dealing with them.  So many strays everywhere...........  I used to feed them myself until they eventually dwindled to nothing for some reason.

sui generis

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Re: Fostering cats - experiences?
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2019, 12:05:55 PM »
I'm a former foster and current adoption coordinator for a rescue cat organization.  I got involved for the same reason you did - I wasn't ready to adopt after the loss of my former Best Little Friend and I thought this would be a great way to make a difference and not feel so empty at home.  One difference is that I started doing it right as I FIREd, so I was home all the time when I fostered.  We fostered 4 kittens, the last two of which we adopted (which I was upfront with the org about - that I'd eventually want to adopt again).  I hope to foster again, but have to work with my new landlord to see if he'll let me have more cats around.

The other advice above is great.  What I'd specifically suggest is that you try fostering older (1 year+?) cats, especially at first.  Kittens require a lot more attention and can grow terrible habits more easily when you aren't home.  (Well, they can form terrible habits even if you are, see, e.g., my now 10 month old monsters!).  They need a lot more interactivity and attention than older cats, and being gone for that long each day is much less desirable for young kittens.  In addition, the younger you get the more you have to be with them every few hours.  We started fostering our second set (our current adoptees) at 3 weeks and they needed to be fed and burped (<---yes, burped!  It's totally as cute as it sounds to burp a 3-week old kitten) every 3-5 hours.  Young kittens need this up until....6-ish+ weeks before they are fully transitioned to solid food and only two meals a day (doable with being gone for 12 hours).  They'll also be closer to litterbox trained by then, which will mean you won't find messes that have been sitting, soaking into your furniture, floor, etc. for 10 hours before you are able to clean it up.  Oh, and the impromptu bathing required because they are covered in poop or who knows what doesn't always coordinate easily with a busy work schedule!

But an older cat would be great!  They do need socialization and can be tougher to get there than kittens, so your help will be much needed there.  We have foster families in my group that love taking older cats and some that only take bottle babies, so I would think most groups would work with you to find age appropriate cats for your circumstances.

Also, I'm sure you've thought of this, but get to know your foster org's policies on what they pay for and don't.  Most pay for any medical care needed at all, but if something that comes up is not an emergency, may need you to get approval before going to a particular vet they have a relationship with (i.e. maybe not the vet you use for your current cat).  Some will give you food supplies and some will not.  Some have you drop your foster off at adoption events and you may never see them again if they get adopted.  Mine doesn't adopt on-site (they have an adoption/interview process) and the foster family actually gets a veto in the adoption application.  Those are the sort of things that can vary that you'll want to understand.

I absolutely love fostering and am really glad to work with orgs that get ferals off the streets when possible (to help them and the local bird population) and to always fix everybody they can to try to control the population out there, which sometimes feels like a Sisyphean task, but still needs doing.  I hope you enjoy!

AccidentialMustache

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Re: Fostering cats - experiences?
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2019, 12:16:05 PM »
Many foster organizations insist you keep your pets and the fosters separate -- for the health and safety of both.

We fostered, but we have no pets due to allergies. (DW can handle the adult fosters, with her on meds, for about a week. Kittens somehow aren't as bad and she can tolerate 4-6 weeks which is real close to the 8-week adoption range.) Great experience overall. At times frustrating, at times over-the-top adorable (pair-bonded young adult males would lay in the trapezoid between me, my keyboard, and my arms and fall asleep or just look at me and purr the whole time).

Sibley

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Re: Fostering cats - experiences?
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2019, 07:52:11 PM »
Thanks for the tips, appreciate it. Much better prepared to talk to them. They emailed today asking if I would foster a 13 yo male cat, he was dumped and just isn't doing well at the shelter. I indicated that I am interested but have questions since I'm brand new to this. Plus, I'm prepping to paint half my house this week so have moved a TON of stuff into that bedroom. So have a couple days to figure things out.

hudsoncat

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Re: Fostering cats - experiences?
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2019, 06:03:47 AM »
I've never foster cats and people above gave you much better advice on that front than I could, but I have fostered several dogs over the years. I will say in my experience, no matter how much support the fostering agency gives, it still costs me money. Sometimes more than I expect/budget when I agree to take one on. It's worth it. Overall positive experience.

wenchsenior

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Re: Fostering cats - experiences?
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2019, 09:35:00 AM »
I've never foster cats and people above gave you much better advice on that front than I could, but I have fostered several dogs over the years. I will say in my experience, no matter how much support the fostering agency gives, it still costs me money. Sometimes more than I expect/budget when I agree to take one on. It's worth it. Overall positive experience.

Agree on both counts.

Sibley

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Re: Fostering cats - experiences?
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2019, 04:24:00 PM »
Well, I'm fostering a cat. His name is Auburn, he was found and brought to the shelter in very poor condition. They think he's about 13, and he has hyperthyroidism. Currently he weighs just over 6 pounds, and really should be at least double that. He is considered to be a hospice foster, so assuming that my Arwen is ok with him, I'll have him the rest of his life.

I've got him in the spare bedroom upstairs, and so far he's settling in nicely. Granted, he's been here for 5 hours. Arwen is aware he's here and so far isn't screaming at the door at least. Mostly, she's been outside enjoying the sun.

Another Reader

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Re: Fostering cats - experiences?
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2019, 04:30:11 PM »
Well, I'm fostering a cat. His name is Auburn, he was found and brought to the shelter in very poor condition. They think he's about 13, and he has hyperthyroidism. Currently he weighs just over 6 pounds, and really should be at least double that. He is considered to be a hospice foster, so assuming that my Arwen is ok with him, I'll have him the rest of his life.

I've got him in the spare bedroom upstairs, and so far he's settling in nicely. Granted, he's been here for 5 hours. Arwen is aware he's here and so far isn't screaming at the door at least. Mostly, she's been outside enjoying the sun.

Methimazole and the occasional subQ fluids could buy him a year or two, as long as the kidneys are ok.

Life in Balance

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Re: Fostering cats - experiences?
« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2019, 06:20:13 PM »
Oh, Auburn looks like a sweetheart.  Poor baby, to be homeless at his age.  I'm glad that he will live out the rest of his life in comfort.

Sibley

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Re: Fostering cats - experiences?
« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2019, 07:18:39 PM »
He's settling in quite nicely, and he LOOOOOVVVVEEESSSS wet food. I will need to be careful so he doesn't eat so quickly that he just throws up. My Arwen has been giving me the cold shoulder, at least until I picked her up and put her on my lap. Now she's sprawled across my lap, sleeping.

jeninco

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Re: Fostering cats - experiences?
« Reply #15 on: July 08, 2019, 02:07:40 PM »
Sounds like an awesome situation so far!

We adopted a formerly-feral kitten (we got her from the shelter, so already tested/treated/vaccinated) and it really only worked because I work from home. I socialized her by the shy kitty version of attachment parenting: she tended to hide in the corners and lurk under the furniture, and once an hour or so I'd go gently fish her out, pet her and talk to her and generally convince her that people are OK for 5 - 10 minutes, then let her go back to hiding.  I wouldn't say she's exactly social now, but she'll tolerate having other people in her space. She also will sometimes come sit in my lap when I'm on the computer (which is funny, as she turned out to be big and sprawl-y) and she sleeps in my vicinity. So I nth the advice to go for older cats: kittens, like children, probably need more frequent attention if you want them to grow up to want to be around people.

sui generis

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Re: Fostering cats - experiences?
« Reply #16 on: July 08, 2019, 09:11:47 PM »
Congrats! Sounds like a great contribution you'll make in this guy's life. Enjoy the adventure!