Capetonians Against Animal Abuse (CAAA), does not have a physical shelter and is totally reliant upon foster parents, to nurture and care for rescues. They can only save, what they have foster homes for.
I share this information on fostering with you, because it is by far the most satisfying experience I have encountered. Once you get past the initial doubts, it becomes so easy to do. Foster care frees up space in a shelter or rescue, allowing them to save another cat. Some cats do not adjust well in the shelter environment due to health issues or being too small, and those ones need fostering.
How it started
I never decided to foster, in the true sense of the word. Rather “oozed” into it by looking after the adorable Marshall for a night or two in June 2014. I was touched by this very neglected kitty, rescued in a business park, covered in ticks and very skinny, yet a total lovebug with not one word of complaint about his temporary lodgings, in a spare bathroom.
To date, about 135 kitties have been fostered by me. Each and everyone different from the other and requiring diverse levels of attention and care. Fostering is the best school to learn about cats, cat care and cat behaviour.
It became clear very soon, that my one spare bedroom was a better space to foster in. Initially we kept the bed in the room, later turned it on its side, and after a while, removed it all together. The foster room need to be set up in such a way that the more scared/ feral kitties, cannot hide, or feel tempted to use the bed as a “litter box”. A smaller and uncluttered space makes them feel safe. They must not be able to hide from sight.
I also have cages in the room, one bigger and a smaller one, which is crucial when you work with feral or scared cats and kittens.
The bathrooms are now the cat’s ablution facilities and beauty parlours. Here they go litter boxing and get brushed, paws wiped, and general cat hygiene attended too, by human slaves. Gemma, our little beauty/ drama queen is The Master of our en- suite bathroom. You may only enter if you lavish love and brushing on Her Royal Gloriousness.
If you have a room or bathroom you can dedicate to fostering, you can foster. It must be kitty friendly and physically suitable of course. The reason I mention this is because this is one of the objections we encounter: “My own cats/dogs will not tolerate other cats in the house”.
My fosters do not mix with my own cats, unless I deem it safe to do, but otherwise not at all. Hence the reason for a dedicated foster space. By now, my own cats are so used to the flow of kitties through our house, they are not perturbed at all, should they encounter newcomers.
My foster space evolved into a room, dedicated to fostering cats and a happy and safe space for the fosters. The Hyltonator built a screen door, that I can move around, to split the house in two, enlarging my foster space. The fosters can be on one side and my own cats on the other side of the house. No one is cooped up and lots of playing and high jinx are at the order of business every day. A big space is however seldom required. It is up to you, how much space you want to use to foster.
It is worth a mention, that my own cats cannot leave my yard, unless in a travel box, compliments of high walls and an electric fence. Despite this, fosters are still not allowed to leave the foster space unsupervised.
To summarise, in a dedicated foster space, foster cats do not have to mingle with your own cats. You do not have to worry about your cats or other pets’ reactions.
Is it expensive to foster?
CAAA, and most other organisations, will provide you with everything you need. From food and medicine, to bedding and toys. All you give is your space, love and attention.
It is better to be part of an organisation, as this also affords you’re the support of the organisational infrastructure and other foster parents.
You can decide how many and the type of cats you want to foster. You can also make yourself available on an “ad hoc” basis. The choice is yours.
Click here to read a very helpful article with more detail on fostering.
How do you let go?
Be strong. Because by letting go, you are making room for another to be rescued. Remember, if you already have other pets, they still need you and rely on you. They are your priority. You need to be able to give them your best, and cannot stretch yourself and your resources, to take on more pets, if not practical.
Fosters are temporary, and the constant fix of cuteness and different personalities, can be quite a thrill.
Even if you start feeling attached, you only feel that way for a few hours after they are gone. You may even shed a tear or two. That is acceptable. Regular updates from the adoptive parents, and seeing how well they are doing, is more than enough to make you feel very accomplished, and happy to be able to now help the next rescue.
You will never know what you are capable of, unless you have tried at least once. It is much more productive to try, and fail, than sit and wonder if you could do it, or make excuses why you could not do it. The latter is not helpful for rescue organisations, or the kitties and doggies they are trying to save.
Do not regret not making the right choice.