Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fostering animals for the branch

We had a fairly typical call on Sunday from an elderly lady who'd been feeding a stray cat in her garden and watching with alarm as Kitty's pregnancy became more and more obvious. Her little dog was scared of cats and she herself was allergic, so she couldn't bring the cat indoors to have the kittens, and in any case she was very worried what she would do if urgent veterinary attention was needed. She was convinced that Kitty might be about to give birth at any moment, so was desperate to get her into a safe home. 

From our point of view this kind of situation is an emergency because, once the kittens had been born outside it would be very hard to find them and give them enough human contact to stop them growing up wild. In a year's time any female kittens would be able to have kittens of their own and in no time at all there would be a colony of hard-to-home cats and complaints about mess and smell.

So many thanks to one of our fosterers for coming up trumps and taking mother-to-be in at 30 minutes notice. The elderly lady had obviously been feeding her well and handled her enough to get her tame enough to settle comfortably indoors, so we should have no difficulty finding her a home provided all goes well with the birth.

Would you be interested in fostering animals for us?

You need to be living in premises where animals are allowed, but a garden is not essential as most fostered animals are either very young or recovering from injuries and need to be confined inside. 

Typically we try to get puppies, young kittens and/or their expectant mothers into foster homes so that they can benefit from social contact with humans and other animals. Kittens and puppies who spend their first weeks in kennels tend to grow up shy and have more difficulty adjusting to life in a normal family home.

We also try to use foster homes for recuperating injured or sick animals so they can get more TLC than in busy boarding kennels and to avoid too many trips between the kennels and our clinic.

The need for foster homes is fairly unpredictable, so we try to keep a roster of people who don't mind being contacted when an animal needs to come in. Families with children are ideal for socialising young animals because it means they get a broad experience of different types of people and are more likely to be friendly with everyone. If you have children who are going to be very upset if the fostered animal doesn't survive, it might be best to be selective about taking on injured animals.

All foster homes are visited by our homing co-ordinator before animals are placed with them. Basically this is a similar visit to the ones we do before placing animals in permanent homes, except that the homing co-ordinator will also discuss the practicalities of caring for injured or very young animals (e.g. loaning the foster home a suitable cage for animals who need to be confined).

The branch will cover expenses such as food and cat litter and any veterinary costs involved.

If you might be interested in fostering, please email

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