So, aside from providing a safe room for kittens to grow, what exactly does a foster mom do on a daily basis?
The shelter provides all of the food, litter box necessities, toys, heating pads, and medical care for the kittens. There is no out-of-pocket expenses although I’ve replaced scratching pads and bought irresistibly cute toys myself (don’t get me started on Target’s adorable Olympic toy collection!).
I begin each day by giving the the kittens fresh plates of canned cat food and dry kibble, and scooping the litter boxes.
The youngest kittens often sleep on a heating pad, so I’ll warm that up as well.
Throughout the day they’ll be fed 2-4 more times depending on their age (younger kittens eat less, but more often just like baby humans).
Occasionally, I administer medication including dewormer or antibiotics via a syringe. All injections are given by the vet at the clinic.
I also weigh them every day using a plastic bowl and a food scale to make sure their growth stays on track.
About every two weeks, I bring them back to the shelter clinic for checkups and immunizations. These are quick visits that barely take more than a half hour including driving time.
The only other time required is to simply … play!
Feral kittens require more attention so that they warm up to humans and we do some forced cuddling until they’ve lost most of their fear. Working with feral kittens is both the most challenging and the most rewarding part of fostering, in my experience. Gaining a feral kitten’s trust is a slow process and it always breaks my heart when they arrive and look at me with such fear in their eyes. When I see their names on Safe Haven’s weekly list of adopted cats, it’s the greatest reward as a foster mom!
Windra, one of my favorite ferals who arrived terrified and left loving cheek rubs!
I also take a lot of pictures … a LOT! I started an Instagram account, @RaleighKittens, in the fall as a place to share all of the photos I’d been taking of these irresistible sweethearts.
When all of the kittens in a litter are well over two pounds, I return them to the shelter’s clinic where they are spayed or neutered and put up for adoption. Sometimes there’s a new litter to pick up the same morning I say “goodbye” to the previous one. Other times I have to wait several days until more kittens are rescued.
And that’s it! Fostering kittens requires a small but consistent amount of time and considering I already do many of the same tasks for my own cats every day, the amount of extra time required to care for the kittens is minimal.
Tomorrow … Meet “My” Kittens