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Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

ChaCha here with my big brother Tango. We adopted Mom about two years ago and live a rather spoiled life. Now Mom is thinking about fostering another feline! She says there are hundreds of babies that are not so lucky as us and we should share a room for a while in our house. Mom is worried about how we will react with another kitty in the house since we get along so well — I run the show and Tango agrees with everything I say. Mom wants to know what to consider when fostering. Thanks for helping us out!

a pair of bonded cats shares a sun puddle on a window sill.

Black and yellow cats by a window, (CC-BY-SA) by Chet B. Long

Siouxsie: It’s a good thing you’re asking on your mom’s behalf before she starts taking in foster kitties.

Thomas: Your mom is right: fostering is a noble and wonderful thing to do, and if you and Tango can be noble and welcome temporary residents in your home, those kitties will have a much easier time finding forever homes of their own.

Siouxsie: But there are some things she should think about before she starts fostering.

Thomas: First of all, she should make sure she’s working with a rescue group that will offer her all the support she needs in order to be a successful foster parent. That includes covering the cost of all the food and vet care the foster cats need, advice on how to care for foster kitties, and so on.

Siouxsie: The foster cats should have their own room. This will make it less stressful on you because you won’t have to deal with all kinds of feline invaders in your home. It’ll also be less stressful for the fosters because they won’t have to deal with your majestic presence as soon as they walk in the door. It’s also a good precaution to take, just in case the fosters have some kind of potentially contagious illness.

Thomas: You and Tango might not like this very much, but before your mom brings any foster cats into your home, you’re going to have to go to the vet for checkups of your own. You should be up to date on your vaccinations before any other cats come into your home. In fact, we’re pretty sure any rescue would require your mom to do this before any of their cats take up residence in your home.

Siouxsie: You’re going to have to accept the fact that your mom is going to need to spend time with the fosters, too. It’s crucial that they’re well socialized and not afraid of people — otherwise, they’ll have trouble finding forever homes. So try not to be jealous when she spends time in the foster room playing with your temporary roommates.

Thomas: Your mom should make sure that the foster room is free from potential kitty dangers like hanging blind cords, toxic chemicals or plants, yarn or string, or wires that are easily within reach of curious kittens. And, of course, the room should have enough toys to keep the fosters from getting bored, as well as beds, cat trees, their own litterbox and dishes and so on.

Siouxsie: A lot of foster caretakers recommend having all the necessary supplies in the foster room. That will prevent your mom from having to go in and out to get fresh litter, stain and odor eliminator, napkins and wipes, and so on.

Thomas: Cats of different ages require different considerations for fostering. The rescue group your mom’s working with can help her understand and give age-appropriate care for her temporary wards.

Siouxsie: If your mom does decide to foster, she needs to reassure you that she knows you and Tango are the permanent residents and kings of the household. That means spending as much quality time with you as she does now and making sure you continue to get all the care you need.

Thomas: When she does bring foster cats home, she should help everyone feel relaxed about the situation. We’d recommend setting up a Feliway diffuser in the foster room and one in the room where you and Tango like to hang out.

Siouxsie: Our mama has never fostered before, so she doesn’t have personal experience to offer, but she does recommend that your mom talk to people who have done a lot of fostering.

Thomas: Now we have a question for all of you: If you’ve fostered before, what advice would you give to ChaCha and Tango’s mom? In retrospect, what do you wish you’d known before you started fostering?