Every summer we are inundated with mother cats and kittens - in 2014 we took in over 220 kittens and over 240 adult cats. Can you be an animal hero and foster some of these animals in need?
What does fostering entail?
Fostering involves volunteers taking our animals into their homes and caring for them. There are rules and guidelines for this, which will be discussed in further detail with staff. These include all cats staying indoors for the duration of fostering and all dogs remaining on leads when on walks.
How long do the animals stay with fosterers?
This is very dependent on the animal. Generally we like to send animals out for around a month at a time. This is long enough for them to benefit from the break from the cattery/kennels but is a short enough time to avoid strong attachments. However there are exceptions - these tend to be mother cats with kittens and long-stay animals who find the Centre stressful. Mother cats and kittens stay with their fosterer for two months, until the kittens are old enough to be adopted.
Is fostering right for me?
Fostering takes a special kind of person - somebody with patience, experience with animals and lots of love to give. It also takes resilience, as it can be very easy to get attached to foster animals, and very difficult to give them up again at the end.
Practicality-wise - we do have fosterers who work full-time, however it does limit the kind of animals we can send out. Mothers and offspring must be in a home with somebody who is able to check on them several times a day. Dogs cannot go to foster homes where they will be left for full time hours. Therefore if you do work full time then please bear in mind that unless you are able to return home throughout the day you will most likely only be able to help with smaller animals (e.g. bunnies) and adult cats.
What animals can be fostered?
Cats and kittens
The vast majority of the animals that we send to foster homes are cats and kittens. We don't like kittens to grow up at our Animal Centre as, with so many animals from so many different backgrounds around it increases the chances of them becoming ill. It is also very stressful for mother cats and they're much happier and more settled in foster homes. If you don't feel able to take on mother cats and kittens we would still like to hear from you! We like to send adult cats who require a bit of TLC out to foster homes too. This may be because they've had a difficult background, because they don't do well in the cattery or simply because we're out of space.
Every year we receive kittens without mothers in need of hand-rearing. This is an especially difficult job as it often requires night feeds and can be draining. However, it is also one of the most rewarding things you can do!
Dogs and puppies
We do have a small number of dedicated dog fosterers but we would love to increase this number. We don't regularly send dogs to foster homes but we do like to use fosterers for dogs requiring extra training, young puppies, elderly dogs or those dogs who are struggling in the kennels. We are especially in need of individuals with lots of experience with bigger dogs, who would be able to take on more challenging dogs. However, if you're interested in fostering any kind of dogs, please do get in touch.
Very occasionally we have dogs who are pregnant when they arrive at the Centre. We would prefer to place these dogs in foster homes, rather than have them give birth here. However, we would like individuals who preferably have experience of pregnant and nursing mums and they must be placed with fosterers who will be there for most of the day.
As with kittens we do occasionally have young puppies in need of hand-rearing. Could you be the one to help them?
We do sometimes send small animals, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, to foster homes.
Can I have my own animals and still foster?
Yes! If you don't have animals, it's a perfect situation as we can potentially place animals who would find living with other animals stressful. However many of our fosterers do have other animals. They just have to come under the following criteria:
- no more than 4 animals of the species you wish to foster (this is to prevent cross-infection)
- all animals must be fully vaccinated
- all animals of the same species must be neutered
- dogs must meet before taking home
- there must be a separate room for mother animals to stay with their offspring, away from the other animals in the home
Ok, I would love to foster! What is the next step?
Fostering is an amazing way to help even more animals move on from the trauma they have experienced in earlier life. Could you be an animal hero?