Why You Should Foster Cats

When I was two years old, a stray cat continuously stopped by our house. My nanny and I would feed him and play with him each day. As the weather began to turn and it started getting colder, my nanny convinced my parents to adopt him. We named him Ghirardelli and he was the perfect pet. He was playful but would cuddle with you when he knew you were sad. This started my love for cats and when my roommates asked myself and our third roommate if we were okay with her fostering cats, I basically screamed yes over the phone. Not only is fostering cats something that is amazing and important to do, but being surrounded by four cats (a mama and her three kittens) has been really beneficial for our mental health during this stressful time. Hopefully, this article will leave you with some information about the benefits of fostering cats and the ways in which animals can improve mental health. 

Fostering cats is a great way to save cats' lives and help out many underfunded shelters. The United States has between 30 and 40 million feral cats. Shelters take in around 3.2 million cats each year. As amazing as that is, millions of cats are still homeless on the street. And, of the cats taken in by shelters, 860,000 are euthanized. By fostering a cat or some kittens, space is freed up in shelters, allowing them to take in and rescue more cats and can help prevent more cats and kittens from being killed. 

There are also many other great reasons for fostering cats. For cats that are recovering from surgical or medical treatment, as many are who were found on the streets, a comfortable home is more conducive to healing than a crowded, loud shelter. Additionally, kittens are prone to illness, and living in a home will make it less likely they will get sick. Furthermore, kittens under eight weeks old need around the clock care, something that shelters often cannot provide. Finally, most shelters with foster programs require that the cats and kittens get neutered/spayed, preventing more cats from being born where there are already too many living without a home.

Fostering cats and kittens not only benefits them but is a rewarding experience for those fostering them and can significantly improve mental health. In fact, 87% of cat owners said that their cats improved their mental health, and 76% reported that having a cat helps them more effectively cope with life's daily stressors.

The Mental Health Foundation of the United Kingdom states that pets can improve the mental health of their owners and foster families. Simply sitting next to a pet or playing with a pet can help people react. Additionally, the responsibility of caring for a pet gives people a sense of purpose and can make them feel valued. Furthermore, pets provide a sense of companionship and can help their foster parent feel less lonely. During a time of extreme isolation, like we are living through now, this can be even more important than ever. In addition to these findings, The Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine conducted a study that found 41% of people reported sleeping better because of their animal. 

Courtesy of what2ver / Pixabay

So, now that you are convinced to foster a cat, what does fostering look like? What advice is out there? I decided to ask my roommate to find out. Here is what she had to say.

1. Be patient with them. While fostering is a lot of work, don’t take your frustration out on the cat. They are adjusting to their new environment, just as you are adjusting to taking care of them.

2. Fill your house with LOTS of toys. Some cat favorites include crinkly balls, empty amazon boxes, and anything filled with catnip. 

3. Cattify! Move electrical wires out of reach, get rid of any plants that may be poisonous to animals, and keep doors closed to places like basements and attics where animals can easily get lost. 

cat looking into the camera while sitting in a DIY house Photo by Marthijn Brinks on Unsplash

To end this article, I’ll leave with a quote from Emma, my lovely roommate, and foster mom to four cats. She says to remember “no matter how many nights of interrupted sleep, early mornings, or trips to the vet there are, fostering cats and bonding with them is an extremely rewarding experience.”

For more information, consider checking out Fostering 101 from the Kitten Lady. For even more information, check out this link.