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5 Things To Do if You're Preparing to Foster a Kitten

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The following article is a guest post from Saved By the Bark blogger, Mandy Lee. 

So, you’ve decided to welcome a foster kitten into your home. Congratulations, and good for you! Fostering a kitten is an exciting and rewarding experience, but it’s not always a walk in the park. Sometimes it takes some extra precautions and steps to make sure you’re doing everything correctly. 

If you’ve never fostered before, it can be a strange experience. You have to remember that you’re only bringing this animal into your home temporarily. Your goal as a foster pet parent is to keep the kitten safe and comfortable until they’re big and healthy enough to find a forever home. 

Kittens are cute and fuzzy, but they’re also fragile. Often, fostering a kitten means that you’re fostering an orphaned kitten, so you’ll be getting them at a time that their immune systems are pretty vulnerable. So. it’s crucial that you prepare for their arrival.

These five things will help you get ready for your new tiny pal. 

#1. Kitten Proof Your Home

The age of your foster kitten will determine the level of kitten-proofing you need to do. Often, animal rescues will encourage you to foster more than one kitten from a litter at a time. So, be prepared to take more than one if you’re able. To kitten-proof your home, there are several things you need to do. 

  • Remove toxic plants from around your home. 
  • Get rid of anything small enough for the kitten to swallow. 
  • Block any spaces that a tiny kitten could crawl into and hide.
  • Cover any electrical outlets or other apparent hazards.
  • If you have other animals, consider blocking off a part of the home just for your kitten. 

#2. Create a Soft and Warm Home Base

The most important things for an orphan kitten are heat and comfort. They can’t regulate body temperature, so be sure to include a heat source somewhere in their dwelling. You’ll probably want to create an area just for the kitten. There, you can have small blankets, a heating source, and some foster pet parents provide comfort items, like stuffed animals. 

Orphaned kittens are missing their mom, so a cheap way to substitute that comfort is with a soft bristle toothbrush. Gently rubbing a soft bristle toothbrush along a new kitten mimics the feeling of its mother’s rough tongue. If you only get one kitten and not a litter, stuffed toys, or even stuffed toys with replicated heartbeats can do wonders for making your foster kitten feel comforted in those early days. 

#3. Learn How to Feed Them

If your kitten is weaned already, your job is a lot easier. Generally, kittens need specially formulated wet kitten food. Sometimes you can supplement with dry food too. However, if your foster kitten is under five weeks old, you’ll need to learn and prepare to bottle feed it.  

New kittens need to eat every two to three hours, and before they’re three weeks old, they’ll also need help going to the restroom after feedings. You’ll need to purchase commercial kitten formula and a syringe or bottle that holds around two to four ounces. Kittens will drink very slowly. Be sure to feed them on their stomachs, because if you feed a kitten formula on their back, they can choke. 

#4. Gather Supplies 

In addition to the heating source, food, bottles, and comfort items listed above, there are several other supplies you’ll need to get before your new kitten arrives. Here are a few of those supplies:

  • Other Toys 
  • A Scratching Post
  • One Bowl for Dry Food
  • One Bowl for Water
  • A Litter Box with Low Sides
  • Litter for the Litter Box 

If you have any questions about other things you might need, speak with your vet or the fostering agency. You can also make a quick run to the pet store and stroll down the cat aisles. You’ll be sure to find some extra supplies to make sure your foster kitten is extra comfortable.

#5. Prepare Your Family 

The final step to prepping for your new foster kitten is preparing your family. If you have small children, they’ll need clear guidelines about the kitten. Your tiny feline will be hard to resist, but setting some ground rules about safe snuggles and play before the new addition arrives is pivotal to the kitten’s long-term safety and happiness. 

If you have other pets, you obviously can’t talk to them like you would children, but make sure that they’re well-behaved around small and vulnerable animals. To be safe, you’ll want to keep any pets separate from your foster kitten until the kitten is old enough to run around and until you’re sure there’s no harm. 

Get Excited for Your New Foster Kitten

If you follow the tips above, you’ll be extra prepared for the arrival of your foster kitten. As long as you’re prepared, you’re going to be fine. Fostering a kitten is a fun and rewarding experience for you and your whole family. You’re doing good for the world and providing a safe environment for a kitten who needs you. 

Resources for at-home kitten care

Mandy Lee is a dog mom, avid veterinary volunteer, and co-author of Saved By The Bark blog. She enjoys sharing tips and tricks for volunteers and animal lovers through thoughtfully researched blog posts and veterinary ideas.