Could you provide a foster home?
Foster homes are absolutely key to an animal welfare charity and Cats Protection is currently looking for people with a spare room or a place in their home, to help us take in and rehome more cats and kittens.
What you’re actually helping the charity to achieve, are two vital points: you’re allowing us to take in more cats needing homes as pens are often full, and you’re also helping to socialise or rehabilitate animals that may have come from neglected backgrounds. If you have a spare room or can offer a place in your house for a foster cat or kitten, then you’re helping those animals move on to the forever homes they deserve.
We spoke to Judy Jeremy from Cats Protection's Swansea branch who has been fostering for over 20 years and whose responsibility it is for Cats Protection Swansea, to look after foster carers and the welfare of cats and kittens in their care.
What sort of accommodation do I need to provide for a foster cat?
To foster a cat or kittens you need to have a spare room where the fostered cats can be kept separate from your own animals, this is to control any infection from fostered cats to your own and vice versa.
A lot of cats and kittens coming into care are healthy but kittens quite often need treatment for cat flu especially if they have come from unhealthy or overcrowded conditions.
Of course if you do not have any pets then the cats can have the run of your house (if you will let them!). You will however, have to be prepared to clean wipeable surfaces for the next cat coming into care.
Do I have to pay for anything myself?
No. All treatment is paid for by Cats Protection as well as food and litter which is either provided or paid for. All you have to do is provide a roof over their heads and some TLC.
Is it an emotional experience?
Fostering for Cats Protection is actually a rewarding experience when you see the cats going to loving new homes, particularly if the cat has had a traumatic life before being rescued.
Our volunteers gain a great deal of satisfaction helping cats get a second chance in life. And don’t worry, all potential homes are visited and new owners are made aware of the responsibilities of owning a cat and the need to neuter.
The best thing is knowing you've rescued a cat or kitten from horrible circumstances and seeing them go to a loving new home.
What type of person do I have to be?
People need to love cats obviously, but they must also be reliable and prepared to let foster cats go when suitable homes are found. Foster carers must be committed to looking after animals in their care which includes regular cleaning, feeding and watering, as well as be prepared to take them for veterinary treatment, which is paid for.
So, is it a lot of work?
Once you are set up and into a routine it's not really a lot of work, it's just that it's continuous. You have to empty litter trays regularly and if you are fostering a litter, then this can be a few times a day. Hygiene is very important.
Also be prepared for accidents with kittens as they are only learning to use litter trays but most are really good. Laminate or vinyl flooring is the best, as it is easy to mop. They also need to be treated for fleas and wormed regularly.
Flea treatment is given roughly every 6 weeks for cats and kittens and worming is done every 3 to 4 weeks for kittens. Cats receive this roughly every 3 months, but unless it's a problem cat, a fosterer wouldn't have a cat for over three months.
Where can I get support?
The branch will support you as much as possible but you do need to follow Cats Protection procedures. There is a book of cat care standards that each fosterer is given.
Will I get attached or sad when my foster cat leaves for its new home?
Sometimes it's sad when a cat leaves as you do tend to have favourites. However this is how we lose fosterers - when they keep a cat and then can't foster any more which is hard on a charity as they have to find other sources of accommodation.
The good thing to keep in mind is that fosterers can save cat after cat rather than just one, I've lost count of the cats and kittens that I've homed! And once one is homed, you can help another.
I’m not too sure, what do you advise?
Why not try it out, it’s the only way of knowing. Mention to the branch that you’re not 100% but want to give it a go. This will allow them to arrange a back-up plan for the cat, in case it isn’t what you expected.
What about when I’m on holiday?
Providing you’re not on holiday on a regular basis, the branch will arrange for the cat to stay elsewhere or you can opt not to take in another cat around the time you will be going on holiday.
I think I want to take this to the next step, so what do I do next?
Contact Cats Protection Carmarthenshire on 0845 260 1382 and we’ll arrange to come and visit you at your home for a chat and a very informal assessment for suitability and to match the right cats to you.
Cats Protection Carmarthenshire encourages all its foster carers to attend the Cats Protection official training programme for Infectious Disease and Contol. It means that our foster homes know how to practice safer cat care and it safeguards the foster carer's own cats.