This scenario is likely to happen to you as a cat lover or cat owner, some day, some time: You come across kittens without a mom at your door step, void deck, or at work. Or you get a call from a friend who is clueless about cats telling you the same. What do you do?

You blast out messages to friends with the kitties’ pictures, asking who wants to adopt them, but get no firm responses. You call shelters and rescue groups like us, but we say we are full-house and have no space. What then do you do?

Here is how to resolve the rescue situation: Foster on your own.

It is not a leave-you-alone-in-the-cold remark, but rather an empowerment of you, the cat lover, to make a difference for the rescued kitten you chance upon.

Fostering the kitten you find is more beneficial than sending the kitten to a shelter or rescue group. Even at no-kill shelters i.e. not SPCA, shelters have a high number of kittens per human caring for them. If you foster on your own, chances of cross-contagion of feline sicknesses are greatly reduced as well. Also, you can provide better care simply because of the healthier cat to human ratio than at a shelter. And by fostering the kitten yourself, you make resources available at rescue groups like ours for kittens that truly have no other fostering alternative – our triage priority is on kittens in such situations. So, fostering, even if you are a first-timer, truly, truly makes a difference.

If you want to become a foster parent, you can start with a few basic logistics. A kitten pen like our ICU shown below, or even a large carrier will suffice for the initial fostering period. It is good to have some kind of cage if your cats don’t take to new arrivals well. Otherwise, if your cats are the friendly type, you can simply use a room with a door to house the kitten in, like say the kitchen, or an unused bathroom.Or separate your cats from the fosters in different rooms, like how we ourselves did when we first accidentally became foster parents.

If you do decide to use a pen, get a simple litter tray like a baking tray or a plastic tray from a house-ware shop, for a few dollars. Bowls can be easily made from simple plastic disposable ones or old bowls from your kitchen cabinet that you seldom use. Feed the kitten the same food you feed your cat, there is no need to go out and buy something special just for a temporary fostering situation.

After the logistics, it would be best to get the kitten to the vet if you can’t ascertain if it is healthy or not. There, the kitten can also get dewormed if you don’t have dewormer on hand. You can also ask for a flea- and parasite- check to make sure the kitten doesn’t harbour anything that can pass to your cats. Ask for a stray cat discount at the vet’s – usual practice – since the kitten is a rescue.

If you are unable to pay for the vet’s fee, you can post an appeal on Cat Welfare Society to get donations to help cover the cost – but this is not a sure-fire way to ease the financial burden because there are too many community cats needing medical attention than there are donation funds. The best thing to do is to pass around a kitty – no pun intended – among your friends and family to help accumulate some funds for the vet cost. 

If the kittens are not weaned onto solid food yet and need bottle feeding – Google to find out how to do it. You can use goat’s milk from supermarkets if you chance upon the kittens at a time when pet shops and vets are closed, feeding with a syringe that you probably would have if you have cats that have seen the vet for sicknesses before. If not, find something you can use to dropper the milk into the kitten’s mouth just to pass through the night. Buy kitten milk replacement and a milk bottle when you can head to the pet shop near you.

If the kitten is healthy and weaned, the next step is getting it a new home. Remember – fostering is a temporal situation, you will and should not keep the cat just because you fostered it, unless your household really decides to permanently adopt the kitten and care for it for the next 20 years.

How to re-home the kitten?

Our national cat advocacy organisation, Cat Welfare Society, is the best website you can turn to help getting a rescue kitten re-homed. Not only can you post the kitten for adoption on its adoption page, you can also find a sample adoption contract to use, guidelines on finding a suitable adopter. After you post the kitten on CWS adoption site, you can also link the post to blast to your social network. You can also post the link on our Facebook page‘s wall. Send us a tweet so we can re-tweet it to our Twitter followers too.

Fostering not only saves lives of cats in need, it also is very rewarding. You love kittens but can’t adopt? Fostering ensures you get kitten pleasure without the long-term financial commitment for its entire life.

It is also addictive by the way, so don’t go around bringing kittens home to foster just because you see them. Not all kittens need rescue – practise triage like we do. Focus on orphans, young kittens, ones that look like they need veterinary attention, and don’t take on more than you can handle.

Share your fostering experience with other cat lovers to convert them into foster parents. Every cat owner should try it at least once!

Be the change. It’s up to me. – Cat Welfare Society

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