10 Reasons to Become a Pet Foster Parent
Today I'm featuring my first guest post since moving my blog over to CTM, and I couldn't think of anyone better to do that post than the queen of the cat blogosphere, Tamar of I HAVE CAT. She needs no introduction, you all know her, and today she is here to tell us why we should consider being a foster carer. Tamar has fostered somewhere between 22 and 30 cats (she lost count at 22) - that's a possible 60 lives saved! Yes I can count, read on to find out what I mean by 60...
The gorgeous Tamar, and the face of I HAVE CAT, Petie
In the past I’ve written about how becoming a pet foster can be a good fit for a range of (human) personalities and lifestyles from the jet-setter to the fence-sitter. But for today’s post Sarah asked me to write specifically about why someone should considering becoming a pet foster, so I'm giving you ten reasons to become a pet foster parent. Hopefully at least one of these will resonate with you and you’ll end up bringing a kitten, adult or senior cat (dog, rabbit, hamster etc!) into your home.
- Commitment free: While specific requirements vary by organization, many groups are flexible when it comes to how often and for how long you foster (e.g, a week or two a month, or maybe only when they are really stretched for homes and in a pinch). So make sure to call around and check on the various options in your community. Give plenty of lead time if you need to take a break or plan to be out of town. And transparency about your overall level of commitment is key to helping you find a foster situation that will work for you and the rescue group.
- Test drive to own: Many rescue groups now allow Foster-To-Adopt (FTA) which can greatly reduce anxiety around the need to “pick” the right pet without a lot of information. Maybe you want to bring a fur baby into your home for the first time but aren’t sure what kind of personality you're looking for, or maybe you want to to be sure the new family member gets along with the existing four-legged residents. FTA can be a low-risk way to “test drive” and see an animal's true stress-free temperament outside a caged/shelter environment. What is hopefully a life-long decision should be one taken with care, and after knowing exactly what you are getting into.
- Learn about yourself: Being a foster pet parent can teach you so many things about yourself. It can certainly test your patience and I have to BE grateful I'm not fostering two-leggeds! I've learned that I might be a bit more tough-hearted than I once thought. While I love each baby I foster, I don't fall in love with them. If another human loves them half as much as I do, then I know I've done my job and it's time for me to save another little life (or to do my part at least). I help turn them into the kitten or cat they are that someone falls in love with. Preparing them much like a halfway home or being an important safe house along the way (think underground railroad!) has been very fulfilling and I know what I'm doing is hard and maybe even better for them than keeping them all myself.
- Learn about your resident cats: I never knew Petie was such an airhead (if he ignores the fosters they aren’t really there), Kip a nurturer and Haddie a jealous possessive diva! But thanks to having fosters I now know different sides of them I never would have otherwise. Who knew?!
- It’s free: If times are tight and you’ve decided not to bring a fur kid into your home because of your financial situation fostering can be a great way to get some furry loving time without the cost. The group you foster through should be willing to pay for all vetting, and some will even reimburse for litter and food (or provide you with it upfront). So again, make sure to compare your options just as you would with anything else.
- Save two lives: When you bring one animal into your home it frees up a cage for another to be pulled from a kill shelter. The math is easy. You foster one baby and save two. Two for one!
- Be selfish: What could be more selfish than access to lots and lots of adorable fuzzy kittens? All three of my cats were adopted as adults so I missed out on snuggling squirmy crazy kittens. Now if I need a fix I can get one (though in all honestly I love fostering adults and seniors just as much. Seniors can make great lap cats!).
- Make a cat more adoptable: When you foster you socialize a cat and give it a better chance of finding a forever home. By observing a cat’s personality you can also help to make sure it’s placed into the right environment for a successful long-term adoption. I HAVE CAT fan Caroline Vile put it best when she said, “I fostered over 60 cats in four years...They all came from local feral colonies and it taught me that no cat is irredeemable. They went from hissy spitty little balls of fury, with worms, fleas and flu to loving pets with individual personalities.”
- It adds up: Fostering one cat can certainly feel like one teeny tiny drop of water in a huge bucket (or like trying to empty a barrel with a thimble) what with thousands - tens of thousands - of animals being put down every day. But I must admit it's a pretty awesome thing when I stop to count up all the cats and kittens I've fostered over the years and realize I've given shelter and loving to over twenty little souls in the past few year. That's meaningful and really brings to life the incremental impact of being a foster parent. And that's just little old me, imagine if you got in on the act?!
- Your home, no matter how small, is larger than a cage. Nuff said.
Now its time for you to meet some of Tamar's past fosters...
Max - was the 14 year old cat dumped at the ACC who found a forever home with an older gentleman named Bob. But sadly Max only lived 3 months with him before passing.
Randy and Ralphie - were renamed Yogi and Scooter (after baseball players) and it was the family that adopted them that found Max a home with Bob.
Bridget - one of the first kittens I ever fostered. That photo was posted on I CAN HAS CHEESBURGER and turned into a card!
Jasper - The one that got away.....he had a tipped ear and would literally HUG you by putting his paws around your neck. And then he would totally give you a hickey by sucking your face! LOL!