Every year, shelters across the country put out the call for foster kitten homes. Kittens require time-consuming care that’s difficult to accomplish in a shelter setting. They are also highly susceptible to illness, making a rescue a risky place to be. Young cats should be about two pounds before someone adopts them, so caring for them until that point can be challenging.
If you’re interested in volunteering your time for this cause, there are things you can do to prepare both yourself and your home. A good rescue will walk you through the steps of kitten care and be a reliable resource, but we put together some guidelines to get you started.
Setting Up a “Kitten Room”
The first step is to set up a designated room for the foster kittens. This is especially vital for anyone who has other pets in the home.
Here are some considerations for the room:
- Size – Keeping the kittens in a small room will make it easier to safely keep track of everybody.
- Temperature – Choose a room that’s convenient to keep warm. Kittens can’t regulate their own body temperature in the beginning.
- Location – To minimize stress, pick a quiet part of the house. If you have other pets, it’s best to keep two doors between them and the foster kittens. An excited dog whining and pawing at the door will be frightening.
- Kitten-Proof – Toxic plants, electrical outlets, sharp objects, and dangling cords are all hazardous items. Be aware of any small spaces a kitty could crawl into and then get stuck.
The shelter you foster for will likely give you supplies. If you want to volunteer to provide some or all of the items, there are a few basics to have on hand.
Supplies to consider include:
- Bedding – Blankets, towels, and soft beds are all kitty favorites. Keep in mind that anything you provide will definitely get dirty. A heated pad may be necessary for youngsters.
- Bowls – Providing multiple bowls for both food and water is an ideal way to combat crowding.
- Bottles / Food – If your kittens require bottle-feeding, the shelter will recommend a brand or type. It’s best to wait for their suggestion before purchasing any food, even if the cats are past bottle-feeding age.
- Litter / Litter Box – Choose a litter box with low sides for easy entrance. Non-clumping litter is safest for kittens. Non-clumping clay and pine litters are popular options. Avoid any strong fragrances or chemicals on those sensitive kitty systems.
- Entertainment – Your toy choices will be limited to the age restrictions of your kittens. Check with your shelter about what kinds of toys will work for the kittens you foster. You can’t go wrong with a fun scratching pad.
Depending on the age of the cats, you may have to feed them every couple of hours. Talk with your local shelter to decide if you’re up for the commitment of foster kittens. While it is a lot of work, nurturing and preparing kittens for their new lives is extremely rewarding