All About Fostering Kittens

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The coming of spring means that “kitten season” will soon be here!  Kitten season is the time of year (generally peaking from late spring to early summer) when animal shelters and rescue groups are inundated with litters of homeless kittens (and their moms, in many cases) in need of care. These kittens are born to unspayed family pets allowed to go outside, as well as to stray and feral community cats.

Animal welfare organizations need all the help they can get during kitten season, including generous volunteers willing to foster some little guys in their homes. If you’re thinking about fostering kittens this year, here are some basic facts you should know, courtesy of Maddie’s Fund.

What types of fostering options are there?

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You can pick the kind of fostering situation that suits you best. Generally, the options are: fostering a mother cat with her litter of kittens, fostering and bottle-feeding very young orphaned kittens, caring for older, self-feeding kittens, and caring for (and socializing) feral kittens.

What supplies do you need to foster kittens?

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Make sure you talk to the shelter or rescue organization to find out exactly what supplies you need, where to obtain them, and who pays for them. In many cases, you can pick up what you need from the shelter, but sometimes fosters will be asked to supply things like food and litter. Other supplies can include kitten formula and bottles, medications, a cage or crate, towels, toys, and a heating pad.

Where do foster kittens live in the home?

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Your foster kittens should be kept in a contained space and not be given the run of the house. You can set them up in a laundry room, bathroom, or bedroom of their own. You can also set up a large cage in any room of the house if you don’t have a spare room just for them. A mom with babies can also be housed in a spare room or large cage. Feral kittens should have as much human contact as possible.

What are common foster kitten health and safety issues?

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Kittens, especially young ones, should be kept warm with a heating pad. Be sure to keep their faces and rear ends clean. Keep an eye out for fleas, ear mites, diarrhea, and signs of upper respiratory infections. Talk to the shelter or rescue group if your kittens seem sick. Keep the kittens separate from any other household pets. Be prepared to take your fosters to the vet or back to the shelter for check-ups and any needed treatments.


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