Foster FAQ

We hope these FAQs clear up any lingering doubts and inspire you to save lives by enquiring about fostering today.

What do you mean by fostering saves lives?

Space is a constant issue for all animal charities. There are always ten times the number of cats in need of our help than there are spaces to house those cats until adoption, and often these cats are abandoned, at risk of euthanasia or homelessness, or in generally bad or desperate situations. Every foster home equals one more space, and by extension, one more cat saved. So quite literally, foster caretakers save lives.

Why does Small Lives Matter Kitten Rescue not have a physical location rely only on fosters?

It’s much healthier for animals to be in a home instead of in a cage while it waits to be adopted. When a kitten or cat is in a foster home, it teaches them to be comfortable in a home environment and be friends with humans. Most animals housed in shelter life are scared and act different than the true cat they become. By placing our animals in foster homes, we can also rescue far, far more than we would be able to if they were in cages at a shelter.

Do I need to be experienced?

If you have owned a cat at least once in your life, this is usually enough experience to foster a friendly cat or kitten without special or complex needs. If you haven’t but have done lots of research and are happy to have lots of guidance, then we will still consider you a potential candidate for a low-maintenance cat. A responsible attitude and big heart are key.

If you are experienced, having worked or volunteered with cats in some capacity, then this is just wonderful, and we hope you will consider fostering shy cats or semi-feral kittens who need lots of handling and socialization.

How do I start fostering?

Complete the foster application online, and then email us when you see a post on our social media asking for foster help as per the post instructions.

How long does fostering last?

Fostering tends to last 2 to 8 weeks depending on age and health. We ask that foster parents hold onto their foster kitties until they are adopted if possible. It can be stressful for a kitty to move from home to home unnecessarily.

What am I financially responsible for?

Small Lives Matter provides all veterinary medical care and formula for the cat/kitten. The foster is asked to provide the litter and any toys/cat trees/playpens. We rely on donations and often will have these items available for fosters to borrow. As a 100% privately funded charity, we greatly appreciate any items you can purchase for use in your own home. All supplies that you purchase for your foster pet can be considered tax deductible donations to the nonprofit.

What if something comes up and I need to give my foster animal back?

We will place the animal in a new foster home if you can no longer care for your foster pet. We need at least a 24-hour notice, and the more notice you can provide us with the better. If you are going out of town, let us know as far in advance as you can. If you are experiencing a specific challenge with your foster kitty, email your foster coordinator right away so we can offer suggestions.

How do I find out which animals need to be fostered?

Follow us on Facebook. We regularly post requests for foster help.

Do I get to choose the animal I foster?

Sort of. Based on your foster application, we try to match the foster parameters (bottle feeders, mush eaters, eating on their own, illness, weight gain and socialization) with the foster caretaker’s knowledge, experience, work hours and home environment to the animals in need. Once you’ve submitted the foster application, you can respond to posts on Facebook requesting foster help for animals that look like they may be a match for you.

I already have animals in my home, can I still foster?

Absolutely. You will want to make sure we know what pets you already have so we know not to place a scared kitten with you if you have dogs that like to bark and play loudly. All fosters kittens should be kept separately from your personal pets and other fosters until they are 7 weeks old. Foster kittens over 7 weeks and adults should be kept separated for 2-3 weeks depending on when vaccinated to make sure there are no unknown illnesses or issues. After that, we encourage your fosters to meet the resident pets when appropriate, as it can increase their ability to be adopted quicker if they are used to dogs and other cats. If a foster is caring for multiple litters, please let us know as we have special requirements for their care. Mother cats with nursing babies are very protective of their babies and must be kept in a separate room away from other family pets until separated.

My adult cat doesn’t like other cats or kittens – can I still foster?

Yes! At Small Lives Matter Kitten Rescue we prefer not mixing existing resident cats with foster cats. What we suggest instead is fostering the cat in just one room of your home, with the door kept closed and everything the cat needs – litter tray, bowls, bedding, toys – provided inside. This method minimizes the level of disruption to your own cat, who may at first be a little perturbed by the scent of another cat nearby, but will usually adapt within a few days, once it becomes apparent that the new cat poses no threat. Many of our foster caretakers have cats of their own.

We ask that all existing cats in our foster homes are neutered and vaccinated.

Won’t the foster cat get bored?

The idea of the fostering room is to simulate the kind of space a cat would have in an animal shelter or cattery. Though not designed for the long term, for the average time it takes for a cat to find a loving new home (two to three months), it’s absolutely fine, as long as the environment is kept clean and sanitary, and the cat has plenty of toys, bedding and attention and stimulation from his or her foster caretaker. Of course, we would love every cat fostered with us to have the full run of a house, but this is simply not practical or possible, and when the alternative is the cat being homeless, a short stay in a comfortable fostering room, with a kind-hearted volunteer, is a very small price to pay for the chance at a new life.

What kinds of challenges can I expect to face while fostering?

All kinds! Or maybe very few, who’s to say? Fostering a live animal is very rewarding and can also be at times difficult, frustrating, confusing, heartbreaking… There are lots of variables, so your experience as a foster parent will depend on your history and past encounters with animals, your lifestyle, and your personality type. It will also depend on the animal you’re fostering — each is an individual and completely different from the next. Almost all animals in new environments exhibit signs of stress at first, so no matter the animal you take home, it’s very important that you be patient for at least the first few days. With brand new rescues, you may also have to have a strong stomach. Yucky stuff like a few worms, fleas, skin or eye issues is totally normal and not a big deal or dangerous. So is diarrhea, a little vomit, scabbed skin, and other stuff like that. We’ll do our best to make sure you know about any of these fun bonuses if we do, but if you notice anything that hasn’t been brought to your attention, please bring it to ours so we can address it ASAP. Making sure all our animals get individualized care and attention is one of the main reasons you guys are fostering them! Try to keep in mind they are abandoned and have never seen a vet in their life. Fostering is awesome, but nobody ever said it’s easy.

What if I want to adopt my foster cat?

The occasional ‘failed fosterer’ is inevitable for any animal charity that relies on the services of fostering volunteers. Though we try to discourage this phenomenon, as having too many adopted cats in the home can sometimes restrict an individuals’ ability to foster – and therefore save many lives – we have no rule against foster caretakers adopting their foster cats. If the home environment, attitude and lifestyle of the fosterer is suitable for the cat in question, then they are viable candidate for adoption.

Am I expected to pay for veterinary care for my foster pet?

Nope. We cover veterinary expenses if you go through us for ALL veterinary issues. If you take your foster animal to a vet without our permission, it causes issue since our veterinary protocol may differ. Unless there is a life-threatening emergency, all fosters should be since by Small Live Matter Rescue Veterinary and Vet Technical staff. If you have questions about symptoms like coughing or sneezing etc., please email your foster contact, and we’ll let you know what to do and/or hook you up with vet care.

What do I do in the case of a veterinary emergency?

In the case of a true veterinary emergency, please contact us at immediately. You must reach one of us and get approval before taking your foster pet to a veterinary facility, so please leave a voice message and/or text if you can’t reach us right away by phone. We will only cover the cost of an emergency visit if we consider the condition a true veterinary emergency, which we define as a condition that is immediately life threatening to the animal. Conditions that fall into this category may include unconsciousness, severe bleeding, severe burns, obvious bone fractures or breaks, severe difficulty breathing. We DO NOT consider the following issues emergencies: minor wounds (where bleeding can be controlled), minor burns (mild discomfort evident), limping, minimal blood in the urine or feces, ear or eye infection, abscesses, diarrhea, irritated spay/neuter incision site, etc.

What are the responsibilities of the foster caregiver?

Aid in the care and socialization of sick, injured or very young cats and kittens. Be attuned to changes with the kitty and any illness and relate that information to the foster coordinator. Spend time socializing on a daily basis with the foster cat/kittens. Provide food, water, litter and other necessities. Medicate the cat/kitten, if necessary, under the guidance of the foster coordinator, veterinarian technician, or veterinarian; take to designated veterinarian if required and approved to do so. Be willing and able to transport the cat/kitten to well care every 2 weeks and veterinarian appointments as required in a secure carrier. Allow well screened potential adopters to view the cat/kitten in your home environment. All foster caretakers will be provided a Foster Caregiver Agreement which outlines responsibilities of foster caregiver.

How do potential adopters find out about my foster pet?

All our adoptable pets are listed on multiple pet search websites such as Petfinder. We regularly share updates on our animals in foster care via Facebook and Instagram, and we often have adoption events.

Do I have to attend adoption events?

Events are not mandatory. We ask all foster caretakers to provide a brief bio for each of their fosters and we post the pet bios, so potential adopters know who they are adopting.