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Interested in fostering a cat or kittens? Find out more about our volunteer role.

At Cats Protection, we help around 200,000 cats and kittens a year and our volunteers are instrumental in helping us improve the lives of cats across the UK.

Many of our feline friends are cared for by volunteers, who play an important role by providing a safe home and plenty of TLC to cats who need a helping hand as they wait for their forever homes. Volunteering to foster a cat can be hugely rewarding, all you need is time, space and a love of cats.

If you’ve been wondering how to foster a cat with Cats Protection, we’ve created this helpful guide to answer common questions, including ‘how does fostering work?’ and whether it is possible to foster a cat if you already have pets.

How does fostering a cat work?

By volunteering to foster a cat with Cats Protection, you’re helping us rescue more cats every year, by taking in cats that otherwise may have been turned away.

Anybody can foster a cat, all you need to do is be able to provide a safe environment and be willing to spare a few hours each day to care for your foster cats.

The main purpose of fostering is to provide temporary accommodation for a cat while they wait for their forever home.

As a foster carer, this involves:

  • meeting the needs of cats and kittens in your care
  • upholding minimum veterinary and cat care standards
  • caring for your foster cat, including feeding, grooming and administering medication
  • cleaning and looking after your foster cat’s environment
  • providing enrichment and socialisation for your foster cat, such as playing, exercising and stroking
  • introducing your foster cat to potential adopters

What are cat care standards?

The cat care standards are Cats Protection’s guidelines to ensure the welfare of both cats and people. They are based on five welfare needs, which are legally required to be met by any animal’s caregiver.

The five welfare needs are:

  • diet – to have suitable food and fresh water
  • environment – to have a suitable place to live
  • health – to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease
  • behaviour – to be able to express normal behaviour
  • company – to have the choice to be apart from other cats

What do I need to become a fosterer?

If you can volunteer time and a safe space in your home, we’ll make sure you have everything you need to provide the best care to your foster cats.

We never expect our volunteers to be out of pocket. We will cover all costs related to caring for your foster cat including food, bedding, bowls, litter, toys and any treatments or medication they may need.

We will also cover the cost of installing a pen if you’d prefer to keep your foster cats outdoors.

What support will I be given as a fosterer?

We want to make sure you have everything you need to feel supported and confident when you become a fosterer with us.

In addition to covering all care-related expenses, we provide a wide range of support including comprehensive training, care guides, and regular support and contact with your local Cats Protection branch.

Proper hygiene is also very important, we will provide you with personal protection equipment (PPE) to use when caring for your foster cat, to ensure the safety of you, your foster cat, and any other pets in your home.

Can I choose what type of cat I want to foster?

Most of our volunteers foster one or two cats at a time, giving plenty of TLC to cats who need a temporary shelter or have had a difficult start in life.

Some of our fosterers prefer to look after new mums and their kittens, providing round-the-clock care to newborns.

It is possible to specialise in the type of cat you’d like to care for, the best thing to do is get in touch with your local branch. They will be able to discuss the range of cats in need of help with you and decide the best kind of foster for your circumstances.

Either way, fostering a cat with Cats Protection is a wonderful way to improve the lives of cats across the UK, and we are very grateful to our volunteers.

What if I have cats/kittens?

Many potential volunteers often wonder ‘can I foster kittens if I have a cat?’ The answer is yes, you can foster a cat or kittens with other pets in your home. To keep everybody safe and happy, we have some basic guidelines:

  • family pets should be kept up to date with their vaccinations and flea or worming treatments – this reduces the risk of spreading disease between animals in your home
  • foster cats should be kept separated from other family pets – ideally confined to a spare room or pen, this ensures both your fosters and your pets can be stress-free and happy in your home
  • using provided PPE when spending time with your foster cats – wearing appropriate PPE and keeping cat bowls and surfaces clean will prevent spreading any diseases between your foster cats and family pets

Do I need to provide outdoor space for a foster cat?

Outdoor space is not a requirement for foster volunteers. Depending on your circumstances and the needs of your local Cats Protection branch, indoor or outdoor fostering is possible.

Many of the cats that come to us are vulnerable, so we advise preventing them from roaming by keeping them indoors. Which means if you have a spare room or a quiet space in your house, free of other pets, you may be able to foster a cat.

If you don’t have space indoors, we can provide a Cats Protection pen to keep your foster cats safe outdoors. The best thing to do is discuss with your local branch, we always welcome volunteers.

How can I become a fosterer for Cats Protection?

If you’re wondering how to foster a cat near you, the best thing to do is reach out to your local Cats Protection branch, which you can find by typing in your postcode into our Find Us tool. We’ll be in touch to discuss specific details, arrange training and get you up-to-speed on everything you need to do to foster a cat.

If you’re not able to foster a cat at the moment, there are many other ways to get involved with Cats Protection. You can also search for volunteer roles in your area on our website.

Fostering a cat FAQs

Q: What if I get too attached to my foster cat?

A: We know how easy it is to fall in love with cats! One of the reasons fostering is so rewarding for our volunteers is because they know that by helping their fosters move on to a forever home, they have the time and space to help more cats in the future. If you do want to adopt your foster, your local branch will be happy to discuss.

Q: What kind of veterinary care will my foster cat need?

A: When you foster a cat, there will sometimes be a need for trips to the vet. Ideally, cats will be checked by a vet before coming into your care, but sometimes this might not be possible. All costs related to vet appointments and treatments are covered by Cats Protection.

Q: Can I take holidays or breaks?

A: Of course! It’s very important that our volunteers take breaks. Arrangements can be made to care for your foster cat when you go on holiday, all you need to do is give your branch plenty of notice. If you want to take breaks between foster cats, we can arrange this too.

Q: How long will I be taking care of a foster cat?

A: We believe it is important for the welfare of our cats to find a forever home as soon as possible, but there are lots of reasons why that isn’t always the case. Some cats may be with you for a few days, others might take a couple of months.

Q: How do foster cats get homes?

A: We organise adoptions by advertising cats throughout the local community and beyond. If one of your fosters is matched with a new owner, we’ll help arrange a suitable time to meet with the potential adopter.

Q: I have no experience of looking after cats; can I still foster a cat?

A: Yes! You don’t need to have previous experience of cat care to become a foster volunteer. If you love cats, have space to spare, and are prepared to take on the responsibility of caring for animals, you can still foster with Cats Protection.

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