When animal shelters overflow or animals waiting for adoption need a little down time, foster parents step in to fill the gap. As a foster parent for the Seattle Humane Society, I have fostered eight cats, six of which were adopted soon after I returned them to the shelter.
Since my busy schedule prevents me from adopting my own cat, fostering has been an incredibly rewarding way to spend time with deserving animals. I love learning their individual personalities and preparing them for adoption by nursing them back to health if they are ill or socializing them if they have behavioral issues.
Here’s how the fostering process works:
- As a prospective foster parent, you attend an orientation meeting with Humane Society staff.
- You fill out a profile indicating what type of cats (or dogs) you are willing to foster – some foster parents specialize in fostering new kittens while others, like me, focus on older cats or cats dealing with illness or behavioral issues, or cats that just need a break from the shelter. The Humane Society tries to rotate cats out to foster homes if they have been at the shelter for more than two months.
- The staff assigns you one cat at a time. They provide all the supplies from litter box and litter to food and any medications the animal needs.
- You care for the cat for anywhere from two weeks to a few months, depending on his or her individual needs. Some cats need to go back in to the shelter for a medical checkup midway through their stay with you.
- It’s a good idea to dedicate a separate room of your home to your foster animal, keeping them away from any of your own animals, and giving them their own space to feel safe. This will also help them acclimate to their new environment more quickly, and save both of you the stress of pulling them out from under your couch or behind your washing machine.
- Once their stay is over, you take the cat back to the shelter to be adopted.
People always ask me if it’s hard to give the cats back. It is most of the time, but I feel great knowing that they are going to find their forever homes. For information on animals available for adoption or to attend the next foster parent information session, visit the Humane Society.