FOSTER GUIDELINES

Thank you for becoming a foster care volunteer for CKC! I appreciate your willingness to join my mission in saving kittens & cats and finding them furever homes!  These guidelines are designed to outline the care and the procedures by which all volunteers operate when providing foster care for CKC.  This manual covers the process from placement in foster care through the final adoption.  Each animal, foster home, and adoptive home is unique.  There will be new situations where flexibility is necessary.

Please read this guide carefully and keep it handy for reference.  If you have any questions, please direct them to your Foster Coordinator, Arika @ 262-353-0988.  Each stage of the adoption process has guidelines listed in this manual.  If any part of this process is not clear, please don’t hesitate to ask for assistance.  With each foster and adoption, you will gain experience and knowledge.  Mistakes happen, and they provide excellent new learning opportunities.

THE PURPOSE OF FOSTER CARE

The purpose of foster care is to provide a safe home for rescued pets until the right forever home is found. Helping a homeless pet become confident, happy, and well socialized is one of the most rewarding efforts you’ll ever experience.  The role of a foster is to bridge the gap between a shelter and a permanent home.  The approved families who adopt our pets are terrific.  You might wish they would adopt you too!  Many of our adoptive families are so grateful for the work you did for their new pet that they will stay in touch for years to come with photo updates.

During foster care, the caregiver can observe the pet’s temperament in a home environment to determine if he or she can safely live with a family and to help the pet learn the necessary things to make him a more adoptable pet. Please ask for assistance if you need help with any socialization needs.

While a pet is in foster care, CKC will ensure that all medical requirements for adoption placement are met (veterinary exam, vaccines, deworming, and spay/neuter)

WILL I BE A GOOD FOSTER HOME?

Some people are reluctant to foster because they’re afraid of getting too attached to their foster pet(s).  It’s true that letting go of a foster pet isn’t easy.  Many foster homes do turn into permanent homes, which is why rescue groups are always looking for new foster homes! There is absolutely nothing wrong with falling in love and adopting a foster. Do not feel guilty! Of course, I would love to have you foster forever and help save more kitties, but even opening your home to one foster is amazing!

TRANSPORT SAFETY REQUIREMENTS

 If you need supplies for transporting a pet, please let Arika know. Crating pets is the safest way to transport them to avoid injuries or escapes. Transporting can be a stressful experience for pets, and even those who are normally calm can panic and escape from a vehicle. You shouldn’t need to transport your foster much, if at all, but it is nice to get them used to carriers as kittens so they aren’t afraid to travel short distances as adults! I like to leave a kennel in their room with the door off and a blanket inside. They have the option to use this as a bed or a safe zone! You can toss treats in there occasionally too.

PREPARING FOR THE ARRIVAL OF YOUR FOSTER CAT 

We highly recommend speaking to your veterinarian about vaccinations for your own cat(s) prior to bringing in a foster cat.  Your vet may suggest vaccinations for conditions that your cat isn’t currently protected against.  CKC is not responsible for any illnesses or injuries contracted by your own pets while fostering, and we cannot reimburse fosters for vet costs incurred for their own cats while fostering.

Your foster cat will need at least one litter box and its own food and water dish, preferably placed in a quiet, private area, away from your home’s everyday activities.  A soft bed and a “hiding” spot such as a cardboard box turned on its side with a towel or blanket on the bottom can give your foster cat a feeling of security and safety.  We recommend confining your foster cat to a small area of your home at first and gradually introduce her to the rest of the house.  A spare bedroom, laundry room, or bathroom will fit the bill perfectly.

You can expect your foster cat to be shy or even scared at first.  Cats do not like change, and any type of “newness” is stressful for them.  Some cats will hide beneath furniture or in any tight space if they feel threatened.  Give your foster cat time to adjust to its new surroundings, and it will eventually feel safe enough to come out and interact with you and your household.  This can take anywhere from a day to several weeks, depending on the cat’s personality.

INTRODUCING YOUR FOSTER PET TO YOUR FAMILY

It is a good idea to plan carefully before introducing the foster pet to your home and those living there.  Many animals are territorial and may respond differently to the introduction of new animals.  You know your pets best, so if they need to be introduced to the newest household member on neutral territory, plan to provide it.  Cats should usually be isolated from your other pets at first in a separate area, as mentioned above. If your foster is coming straight from an out of state transport, we HIGHLY recommend that they are kept separate from your pets for 14 days. They may come with a contagious illness and we are not responsible for your pets getting sick. Washing hands and changing clothes when going between fosters and your pets is a great idea. They can be introduced by letting your pets sniff under the door that they are kept separate with.

Talk to family members beforehand about the new foster and what they should expect.  Children especially should be made aware that the foster might initially behave differently than their own cat.  The foster does not know them and may be shy or very boisterous – every pet is different.  Children also need to know that they play a part in the fostering experience – what they see and experience is very important.  As with any new non-human addition to your family, you should monitor your children’s interactions with the foster pet at all times. Young children tend to pick kittens up by their neck, so it is very important that they are monitored!!

Cats Need to Be Indoors Only – Never let your foster cat outdoors for any reason, even if you think it will be alright if they’re supervised in your backyard.  Cats can easily jump a 6foot fence, and once they escape, it’s difficult to get them back.   Cats are subject to dog attacks, coyote attacks, and many other dangers outdoors. A bird of prey can easily spot a kitten.

Roam the House – cats need to be shown where things are located in the foster home.  This means that you need to show the pet where food, water, crate, and bathroom areas are and reinforce these areas with words and treats.  A pet left to roam the house, whether you are there or not, is never a good idea.  The pet is not familiar enough with this new territory and new rules.  When you are not present in the house, the pet should be confined to a safe area. Kittens that can’t find their way around your home might decide a spot behind the couch makes a nice bathroom 😉.

FEEDING YOUR FOSTER PET

Cats can be finicky eaters or voracious eaters – it depends on the cat.  Generally speaking, cats adjust more easily to new types of food than dogs.

Some pets will come in to rescue overweight; some may come in malnourished.  If you have a question about whether your foster is over or underweight, please let the Foster Coordinator know your concern, and advice will be given to provide the appropriate amount of food and exercise for pets that do not come into rescue at a healthy weight.

While CKC does not have restrictions on what brand of food must be fed to foster cats/kittens, we do supply you with donations/what we can afford at the time. This usually means cheaper brands of food. You are more than welcome to purchase higher-quality food, but it would be at your own cost. I recommend at least two feedings per day.  Kittens under 8 months old should be free-fed dry food and offered canned food AM & PM. If you are fostering an orphaned kitten under 8 weeks old, they should be fed 3x a day. Ask Arika for specifics if you have a bottle baby. Adults should get ¼ cup of dry food twice a day. If you want to feed canned food also, you can cut back a little on the dry food. Always make sure fresh water is available. Treats are ok, just make sure they aren’t too hard or big for your kitten to chew/swallow.

GENERAL VETERINARY REQUIREMENTS FOR ADOPTION PLACEMENT

All kittens must be spayed/neutered before adoption. This generally means they are at least 8 weeks of age (weighing 2#). They will have had their first FVRCP vaccine & dose of Strongid (dewormer). A rabies vaccination is required for any kitten/cat over 16 weeks old. Kittens get FVRCP at 5-6wks, 8wks, 12wks, & 16wks old. If you have a foster at any of these ages, expect Arika to come by and vaccinate them!

CKC has a working relationship with Blue Sky Animal Clinic, a rescue-friendly veterinary clinic.  Please have your Foster Coordinator approve any visit to a veterinarian prior to making an appointment.  We cannot reimburse fosters for expenses incurred without an approved appointment. If an accident or medical emergency occurs with a foster animal while you are fostering, contact your Foster Coordinator immediately.

In addition to the basic medical requirements for adoption mentioned above, there may be other medical needs that arise.  If your foster pet seems ill, contact your Foster Coordinator immediately.  Common medical issues are Upper Respiratory Infections (sneezing, eye, and nose discharge) and parasites (vomiting and diarrhea). Shelter kittens can also be susceptible to Ringworm. This is a fungus, not an actual worm. Signs appear within 2 weeks of coming in contact. You will notice bald spots or scabbing.

Arika can treat MOST conditions without a vet visit. You will need to fill out a medical log to keep track of meds given.

Contact Arika right away if you notice: Vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, not eating, or scabs/hair loss.

CATS & BEHAVIOR

To avoid potential behavior problems for your foster cat, it’s best to keep the cat in a small area such as a bedroom or laundry room for a few days to a few weeks, depending on the cat’s temperament.  Some cats are very shy and scared and will feel safer in an enclosed area.  Others have the necessary bravado to begin exploring your home immediately.  Your Foster Coordinator will advise you on the foster cat’s sociability.

If your foster cat hides beneath furniture or refuses to come out and socialize at first, don’t worry.  Eventually, it will feel more comfortable and you’ll be able to interact with it.  Observe whether or not the cat is eating and using the litter box while it’s alone.  Most shy cats will eat when no one else is watching! Don’t force yourself on a shy cat – let it warm up to you and your family gradually.  Cats have to make their own way with social interactions.

It’s always best to introduce a cat to any current pets slowly and gradually.  Some cats get along great with other cats and some don’t.  Likewise, some cats get along with dogs but not with other cats.  Expect some hissing, growling, and raised fur when a foster cat first meets your current pets.  As long as a real fight doesn’t break out, the cat will eventually learn that your pets don’t pose a threat.

If your pets do try to chase the foster cat, this is a sign that you need to separate them until they get more accustomed to each others’ presence in the house.

Keep a squirt bottle filled with water handy to break up any tension between the foster cat and your pets.

Cats are naturally inclined to use their litter boxes.  If your foster cat is eliminating outside the litter box, it could mean one of several things.  Try placing the litter box in a quiet, private area.  Your foster cat should have its own litter box instead of sharing one with your own cats, at least in the beginning.  Sometimes cats prefer a different type of litter.  Experiment to see if one works better than another.

A urinary tract infection can also cause cats to eliminate outside their litter box.  If you see your foster cat straining to pee or observe any blood in its urine, please make a vet appointment right away.  Male cats can get urinary tract blockages that can be fatal if not cared for immediately!

ADOPTION PROCEDURES

Arika will take care of all paperwork & agreements. The adopter must provide payment for the pet at the time of adoption before they can leave with them. Venmo is preferred for adoption fees, but sometimes an adopter will give you cash or check and you are responsible to get that back to Arika. If you have a friend, family member, or know someone who is interested in adopting your foster pet, please ask them to fill out a CKC Adoption Application online at cokittycoalition.com.

When CKC receives an adoption application for your foster pet, the application will be reviewed and, if all looks good, approved. It is best that the kittens/cat can be met in their natural environment (your home) to see their true personality.

Sometimes kitties go home before they are spayed/neutered. The adopter is required to bring them back for their scheduled surgery.. Every kitty is owned by CKC until it is fixed. This can help open foster space.

Not everyone who fills out an adoption application is approved for adoption.  CKC is careful about whom we adopt our pets to, as we want to make sure it’s a good fit for the pet and for the adopter.

Our adoption fees can vary, but usually are as follows: cats/kittens <2 years old: $200, cats over 2 years old: $75. Checks can be made to Co Kitty Coalition @ 1306 Heatheridge Court Fort Collins, CO 80526.

The adopting family gets a copy of the Adoption Agreement and Veterinary Records. 

SAYING GOODBYE

We know this is the hardest part of fostering - saying goodbye to a pet you’ve grown to love.  Knowing your pet is going to a new loving home helps ease the process, but it’s still difficult.  If you would like to hear from the new adoptive family, by all means, ask them to let you know how your foster pet is making the transition!

Most pets adapt fairly readily to their new homes, and just as they became part of your household, they will quickly adjust to life in their new forever home.

You’ve helped save a life by fostering, and by caring for this foster pet, you’ve allowed it the chance to enjoy the good life it deserves!

And remember – more homeless pets are in need of foster homes every day, so we encourage you to consider fostering another pet as soon as you’re ready!