Fostering is one of the most rewarding and valuable roles performed by Cats Protection volunteers. As a fosterer, you work directly with cats and kittens in need, providing hands-on care as part of a team working to re-home them.

Some fosterers choose to dedicate a room in their home for the use of their foster cats and kittens. It may need some minor modifications (which will be carried out at our expenses) – we may need to lay easy to clean flooring such as lino or install a wire mesh frame in front of windows to make them escape-proof for example.

Alternatively, if you have a yard or garden, a purpose-made pen can be installed, again at our expense. Such pens feature an insulated cabin with plenty of soft bedding (the sleeping quarters) and a run, accessed by a cat flap, where the cat can stretch its legs and play. The pen will be connected to your electricity supply to provide heating and lighting, but even with the cabin heater running full time during cold winter weather, you will not notice a significant increase in your bill. However, please do not be deterred if electricity costs are a concern - we may be able to come to an arrangement.

Typically, a pen is of similar size to a small garden shed and can be located unobtrusively in a corner of your choice. The accompanying photograph gives some idea of the appearance of a pen from both inside and out.

Food, dishes, litter, litter trays, disinfectant, bedding, toys and everything else you need will be supplied by the branch. You may be required to liaise with our local suppliers to arrange regular deliveries of cat litter or food to your home.

All you are asked to do is feed the cat three times a day, and keep the pen and in particular the litter tray clean and tidy. It will be necessary to disinfect the pen and wash the bedding before the arrival of each new cat. You will invariably be given a break of a few days to complete such tasks. There might also be occasions when you need to visit the vet with the cat, but again, if this is a problem (for example, if you lack transport) we will be able to help.

A cat might be with you for just a few days, or it could be months - it all depends on when a suitable home can be found. We will, of course, make arrangements to care for the cat if you are ill, or if you go on holiday.

What are the pros and cons of fostering? As already outlined, it is rewarding and valuable work, and good fun, especially if you have a mother and a litter of kittens to care for. Although it can be hard handing your foster cat over to its new owner, it is rewarding when a potential adopter meets your foster cat for the first time, and a delight to hear how well they are doing as lots of adopters choose to stay in touch.

On the down side, it does require commitment; for example, cleaning a litter tray on a cold, wet morning when you are already late for work can be a drag. There is a small amount of paperwork to be completed when a cat is homed. It can also be upsetting if a cat or kitten in your care becomes ill or dies.

Is it worth it? If you don't know, we can tell you! If you are interested and would like to know more, we would love to hear from you – please contact us on 03000 12 12 12.