8 Reasons to Foster During Kitten Season

I’ve been an animal shelter foster for several years (and have three foster fail dogs to show for it). Fostering clearly has changed my life for the better, and I’m always encouraging others to try it. But what about those who are interested but not sure fostering is for them? I highly recommend they try fostering during kitten season the high-breeding season for animals that spans the warmer months of the year.

“But I’m a dog person,” you say. I get it. I have three dogs, after all, and I never really thought of myself as a cat person until I started fostering them. I dare you to care for a helpless little kitten and not fall in love.

By all means foster some dogs in need, if you want. They’re producing litters in the warmer months, too just to a lesser extent than cats are. But in my experience, dogs (especially puppies) tend to be pretty involved fosters. So if you want a more low-key introduction to the world of fostering, consider helping with the plethora of cats and kittens animal shelters take in each year.

Need some more motivation? Here are eight reasons to foster during kitten season.

1. You can have your pick of the litter(s).

mother cat nursing her kittens

Credit: bozhdb/Getty Images

Kitten season is often like a flash flood for animal shelters with their intake rate, so there’s a good chance your local shelter will have multiple options for you to foster. If you want a pregnant mom or a mom and babies, they’re probably out there needing your care. If you prefer weaned kittens who just need a little more time to grow, they’re out there, too.

I started with slightly older kittens, because I figured it would be the easiest way to get my feet wet in the world of feline fostering. But now I gravitate toward caring for the pregnant moms, because I can’t resist seeing those little kittens grow.

2. It doesn’t have to be a long commitment.

Having your pick of foster animals also typically means different time commitments. You might spend months fostering a pregnant mom and then her babies. But a kitten who was found outside as a stray might only need a week or so of fostering to get some socialization.

It all depends on the individual case. And, yes, sometimes fosters might need more time than anticipated, such as for an unexpected medical issue. (Your shelter should understand if you can’t commit to the extra time.) Still, if you’re not sure about being a foster and just want a short commitment, there’s probably a shelter animal who would benefit from just a few days in a home.

3. Sometimes, no experience is necessary.

Those short-term foster cases are usually pretty straightforward. Maybe they’re underweight kittens who just need a calm home environment where they can gain weight and get strong before heading back to the shelter. If you can follow feeding instructions, you essentially have the major skills necessary to help these animals.

But don’t shy away from foster animals who need some medical or behavioral help, even if you have limited experience. The shelter shouldn’t give you any animal you can’t handle. (Speak up if you have concerns.) And it should provide you with training. Plus, fostering comes with a strong support network. If you connect with some of the long-term fosters at your shelter, odds are they’ve dealt with an animal just like yours.

4. You can build your care skills.

bottle-feeding kitten

Credit: anurakpong/Getty Images

I’ve gone from fostering older kittens who just needed to get healthy to administering medications, caring for pregnant moms and bottle-feeding kittens. My comfort level has grown with each foster animal.

I’ve learned various tricks to get kittens started on solid food and using the litter box. I’ve dealt with different personalities. And I’ve had a lot of fun coming up with new, feline-friendly games and ways to “catify” my fosters’ space. I also know I have so much more to learn.

Experience is one of the best teachers. With kitten season providing such a variety of foster cases, you’re bound to see something new and add to your feline skills.

5. You get to witness key life stages.

Kittens rapidly go through key life stages: their eyes opening, their first steps, their first pounce, their first time using the litter box without you rushing them there when you see they’re about to pee. It’s all magical. If you’re fostering a pregnant mom, you might even get to witness their birth.

Seeing the personalities of little kittens develop is what truly has turned me into a cat person and not to mention their mothers’ care and patience. Yes, you’ll see key life stages from fostering puppies or any other baby animals, too. But if you don’t already appreciate kittens, you will after you watch them go from blind, helpless creatures to scaling a cat tree in two seconds all in just a few weeks.

6. The kittens will get a better start in life.

This is where you really make a difference when you open your home as a foster. With the influx of animals during kitten season, shelters do what they can to maximize their space to help as many as possible. But for pregnant moms, new moms and young kittens, the best place they can be is in a foster home receiving more attentive care.

Not only are you saving them from the unavoidable stress of a shelter environment, but you’re stopping them from picking up diseases they aren’t yet protected against.

As a foster, you also acclimate your animals to a home environment, which is especially important if they’re young or had been strays. This will help make them more adoptable. Plus, you’ll get to know their individual personalities and needs, so they can be better matched with an adopter. And, of course, by opening your home, you’re freeing up space and resources for your shelter to help other animals in need.

7. Your fosters likely will find homes quickly.

A gray and white kitten reaches a paw out of its cage at the animal shelter

Credit: A Tail to Tell Photography/Getty Images

The hardest part of fostering is arguably bringing the animals back to the shelter for adoption (though some shelters and rescues do adopt out straight from their foster homes). But don’t let that discourage you from fostering altogether. It’s also the final hurdle before they get to their forever homes, making all your hard work worthwhile. The good news if you’re fostering kittens is that they tend to find homes pretty quickly.

That’s especially true if you’ve done your job as a foster getting them healthy, socializing them and acclimating them to a home. That’s a big draw for potential adopters. Plus, adopters like hearing specialized insight on the animals that you as the foster can provide. Not to mention you can be showing off the animals on social media and helping your shelter market them while they’re in your foster care.

So, yes, waiting for them to find their forever homes is hard, but odds are your foster work will shorten their wait.

8. You’ll make a difference in solving a serious problem.

Hundreds of thousands of shelter animals are euthanized each year with cats seeing worse numbers than dogs. For instance, in California the state with the second highest number of shelter animals killed per year roughly 75 percent of those animals are cats, according to Best Friends Animal Society.

Spay/neuter, along with community cat programs and advocacy, are important. But as long as pet overpopulation (which is especially apparent during kitten season) persists, animal shelters will need help from fosters.

By fostering, you can take some strain off your shelter and allow it to help even more homeless animals. At the same time, you can use your foster role to educate those around you on pet overpopulation and adoption. Every voice and helping hand matters for these animals.

Main image credit: anurakpong/Getty Images

87 comments

Diane E
Diane Eyesterday

Thanks. Make a difference to a homeless animal.

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Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan Hill2 days ago

thanks

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Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan Hill3 days ago

thanks

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Nanette a
Nanette a6 days ago

ty :)

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Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan Hill6 days ago

thanks

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danii p
danii p7 days ago

Thanks

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danii p
danii p7 days ago

Thanks

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danii p
danii p7 days ago

Thanks

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Marija M
Marija M8 days ago

tks

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Danuta W
Danuta W10 days ago

Thank you for posting

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