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There are plenty of reasons you may not be ready to adopt, but fostering a pet is still a way to change a life while seeing how the whole “pet parent” role feels.

What you’ll need to foster a pet

  • Patience and time

    Expect to make time in your day for feeding, walks and socialization, and budget more time if the pet needs extra behavioral or medical help.

  • A safe environment

    Puppies and kittens will play and chew on just about anything. Make sure you properly prepare your home — and family members — for a new arrival.

  • A kennel or carrier

    You may need to take the cat to vet appointments or adoption events.

  • High-quality food

    Choose a wet or dry food that is appropriate for their age and any health issues the pet might be facing.

  • Poop bags or litter box

    Whether you’re walking your foster dog or cleaning up after your foster kitty, you’ll want all the necessary equipment to keep their space clean.

  • Toys

    Part of your job as a foster parent is to socialize the pet, so play is essential. For cats, make sure to create a good place to scratch.

What to expect when fostering

You'll be required to fill out paperwork, and perhaps undergo training and a background check. Some typical questions a shelter may ask include:

Do you have
other pets?

They will need to be up-to-date on vaccinations and have the right temperament to welcome another pet into the house.

Do you have space for the foster cat to be separated?

It’s important to have a pet-proofed room where new foster pets can be isolated. Sometimes a pet may not have had all of their vaccinations yet, or just simply need a place to be alone.

Do you have the time and flexibility to foster a pet?

Part of the reason a pet is coming into your home is to be socialized, so you'll need to be home frequently to interact with them.

Questions to ask the shelter

You should feel free to ask your own questions during the approval process. You’ll want to know the answers to questions like:

  • Does the shelter provide food, litter and cover the cost of medical care?
  • Does the shelter have a vet it works with?
  • Will you be expected to open your home to potential adopters or take the pet to adoption events?
  • Can you ask for a cat to be removed from your home if the match doesn't work?
  • Will you have the option to choose what cat or kittens you want to house?
  • Will you have the option to adopt the cat if you decide you want to keep her?

The answers to these questions will vary depending on the shelter. No matter what the answer is, just make sure you’re comfortable with the shelter's practices and rules before moving ahead.

Most shelters will provide assistance

Not sure about the cost to foster? Many organizations will pay for vet care, while others provide much more, such as food and bedding. Call your local shelter ahead of time to see what their policy is.