Have you been holding off on fostering a shelter a cat because you’re unsure of what to expect? Or maybe you’ve heard a lot of negative opinions from those around you? Feeling skeptical about trying something new is completely natural and it’s actually a good thing that you’re not jumping right into something you’re not 100% comfortable with.
However, when making decisions, it’s always best to look at both sides. As unfortunate as it is, the bad rap that shelter cats get is mostly born out of rumors and misinformation. So we’re here to set the record straight and share with you the reality of what it’s like to foster a cat.
Expectations VS. Reality
Expectation No. 1: Shelter cats are feral
Many people wrongly believe that all of the cats in animal shelters are feral or wild cats that don’t make good housemates. The reality is that your local animal shelter is very experienced with socializing cats to get them adopted and they know a thing or two about feral cats, as well.
Reputable animal shelters have established Trap Neuter Release (TNR) programs to catch, sterilize and then release feral cats back into their community. They know that feral cats won’t make good house pets no matter how hard you try and they won’t ask you to foster a feral.
Aside from that, they’re also great at socializing younger kittens early on so that they develop a good and trusting relationship with humans and other pets. So, you can rest assured knowing you won’t unexpectedly get paired up with a wild animal.
Expectation No. 2: Shelter cats carry diseases
Perhaps one of the most common misconceptions is that when you foster a cat from your local animal shelter, they will be full of diseases. If this is one of your expectations, we invite you to visit your local animal shelter to get an inside look at their operations.
Animals that come into their care are thoroughly evaluated and vaccinated from diseases just like they do at your local veterinarian’s office. Some animal shelters even have on-premises clinics for everything—from spay and neuter to more complex surgeries—so simple vaccinations are a routine task for them. Your foster cat will likely be fully up to date on vaccinations and your local animal shelter will be glad to keep them current for you.
Expectation No. 3: Shelter cats don’t like people
Many people expect that their foster cat won’t like hanging out with them and just hide under the bed all day. While it’s true that some animals are more outgoing than others, the reality is that cats thrive in a foster home, as opposed to the shelter environment.
Cats are social creatures and you can expect that once they get comfortable with their environment after a few days or weeks, they’ll be out and about; likely following you around your house. Some foster cats will want to sit in your lap, others will just want to be near you but either way, the moment they realize you’re their people, you’ll wonder how this myth ever even came into existence.
Expectation No. 4: Shelter cats are loners
Often, I hear people say that cats from local animal shelters don’t get along with other cats and need to be “only” cats. While every situation and cat is different, your foster cat may be well-socialized with other cats. Your local animal shelter will be happy to help you find a foster cat that matches your personality and current home environment.
Definitely ask your local shelter professionals about the best way to introduce your foster cat to your existing pet to make sure that they’ll get along and that you understand the nuances of cat behavior. You don’t want to just toss your foster into the kitchen with your own cat unless you enjoy the hissing and high-pitch squealing noises common with catfights.
With patience and the help of your local animal shelter, you’ll be ready to bring your foster cat home and enjoy the sight of them and your current pet having twice the fun!
Hopefully, we helped to remove your doubts about fostering a shelter cat. Remember that when you foster, you’re not only opening your home to an animal, but you’re also saving a life.