Cat allergies, not enough space, don’t get along with cats, I’ve heard it all. Excuses, excuses, excuses. As of May 2022, I have had the pleasure of fostering 16 kittens. Not all at once of course, but there have been moments in time with three or more little creatures running around in my space. In fact, three little foster kittens are running around my bedroom as I write this, and I expect they’ll be adopted by the end of the week. If you’ve found yourself considering fostering at some point in your life, I have a definitive list of the best reasons why and why not to foster, (accompanied by photos and videos of adoptable cats in the Atlanta area, of course.)
Reasons to Foster
1. You love animals!
If you want an excuse to spend more time with cuddly little critters, then fostering is right for you. I currently walk my neighbor’s dog just for an excuse to hang out with her golden retriever and I can’t get enough. If you find yourself lingering every time you get to pet a passing dog or chasing and pspspsing whenever you see a feral cat, you may want to consider being a foster.
2. You like having a passion project.
When I’m not at school taking classes or at home doing homework, I have a lot of downtime to myself in the apartment. My mom reminded me that dedicating your extra time and energy to a personal project is a great way to feel fulfilled. I tried getting into plants and picking up crocheting, but nothing seemed to stick. It wasn’t until I fostered a mother cat and her litter of kittens for the first time that I realized I found my passion project.
3. You want companionship, but not a commitment.
Owning a pet can be an incredible thing. You get a lifelong partner that just wants to cuddle, play and love you unconditionally. But it can also be a huge commitment. There are vet bills, the cost of food and toys and litter and boarding payments if you ever need to go out of town. I’m a college student, so all of that can feel a bit overwhelming. Fostering means that you get all of the benefits of having a pet without any of the downsides. I get to invest my love and care into a cuddly little friend and ultimately make sure it goes to a safe and loving home, but I don’t have to worry about all of the bills that can rack up.
4. You want to change their little lives.
Spring and Summer are informally known as kitten season in the fostering community, for good reason. According to Best Friends Animal Society, “thousands of tiny kittens arrive in overwhelming numbers at our nation’s animal shelters—and they depend on us humans for love and care. With so many lives in the balance, your help is needed to make sure every whiskered wee one can look forward to a bright future.” These guys just need some TLC, whether you can look over them for a week or a month. The time spent providing a safe, warm home for these sweet babies will make an impact on their lives forever.
Reasons Not to Foster
For every reason you may have to foster a furry friend, it’s important to consider the cons.
1. You don’t want to get too invested
Try as I may, I can’t help myself from getting emotionally invested in each lovely little kitten. I miss each one when they get adopted to their forever homes, but that doesn’t make the whole experience not worth it. I meet the adopting families, either over zoom or in person and get to know the person that will be providing a loving home to my temporary babies. I think of my apartment as a waystation; sick and stray cats and kittens can finally get the love they deserve in a safe place before eventually moving on to their forever home. And sometimes, I follow some of the adopting parents on Instagram, so I get to keep up with the kittens and watch them grow up!
2. You can’t handle change
Kittens and cats can be unpredictable. For example, when I fostered a mama cat and her litter of kittens in the Summer of 2021, I had no idea that the mother cat had gotten pregnant sometime before being transferred to my apartment. I thought she was just holding onto the baby weight from the first litter and was cranky from weaning them off of her milk. It wasn’t until the week before she gave birth underneath my couch that I knew she was pregnant in the first place. She ended up making a towel nest under the sofa and giving birth to four healthy kittens in June. I got to name the kittens myself and watch them open their eyes and walk for the first time. It was a crazy experience and the last thing I expected to happen, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
3. You don’t want to be a crazy cat lady
You can try and prevent it all you want, but it’s inevitable. You become a crazy cat lady the minute you pick up your fosters from the shelter. Prepare your camera roll accordingly, for it will soon fill with pictures of adorable kittens and cats. You will incessantly update your friends and family about their progress and find yourself canceling plans to stay in and hang out with your cuddly companions. And there’s nothing wrong with that!
Armed with good advice, look into local shelters that could use the invaluable help that fosters provide!