What you need to know to foster animals
Foster pets lying next to each other on the floor together

Do you love animals and want to help them find loving homes? Have you ever thought about fostering a cat or dog? Let’s take a look at what fostering a pet is all about. When you become a foster parent, you’re volunteering to take care of a homeless pet temporarily until they find their forever family or can be taken into a shelter. Many shelters rely on foster homes to keep pets until they have room, and some shelters are run entirely through foster care. With a little preparation and by working with the right organization, most people would make great foster parents.

Reasons why you should consider becoming a pet foster parent

Let’s be honest, any reason to foster a cute and cuddly cat or dog is a good one. Here are the top 5 reasons to foster a pet.

  1. First and foremost, you’re saving lives
    Every time an animal goes to a foster home it frees up space in crowded shelters. It also lowers the number of animals that are euthanized each year.
  2. Foster homes help adopters see pets at their best
    In a foster home pets can let their personality shine. They’re able to relax more than in a tiny kennel or cage, giving adopters a sense of how the pet would act in a home. Seeing a pet flourish in a home often increases their chances of getting adopted.
  3. Fostering pets is fun
    Playing with your foster cat or dog is a great way to unwind and provides them the attention they need to thrive. It can also provide tons of entertainment when they chase their tail, or they feel comfortable enough to you show their goofy personalities.
  4. It’s a rewarding experience
    It can be a truly remarkable process watching cats or dog’s transition from scared little animals to trusting, thriving members of a family.
  5. You get to choose how to foster
    Fostering a pet doesn’t require you have tons of free time or advanced training skills. Most shelters offer foster opportunities that fit your schedule.

Preparing to be a foster home

Foster homes are needed for animals of all ages. This includes pregnant dogs and cats who need a place to give birth and wean their litters, and to socialize litters of puppies and kittens who were abandoned. The main function of a foster home is to provide a safe and loving home environment. This involves caring for your foster pets as you would care for your own pet: offering them food, affection, socialization, and exercise to keep them happy and healthy.

Other main responsibilities include:

  • Transporting the cat or dog to and from vet appointment and adoption events
  • Participating in obedience training at home or in classes
  • Reporting back to the shelter with information about the animal’s personality and behavior
  • Speaking with potential adopters about your foster to determine if they are a good match

What to expect when fostering a cat or dog
Here are just a few things to know before you accept your first foster pet. The animal rescue organization you’re working with should have your back every step of the way. Before you take in any foster pet, make sure you know what the organization can and can’t do to support you:

  • What support is provided for training or behavior issues?
  • Who to call after hours and weekends?
  • What supplies are provided?
  • Who to contact for medical attention?
  • How are vet visits are handled and paid for?

Make sure you have all this important information in writing so you can refer to it if needed. You’ll probably also be asked to sign some kind of agreement with the shelter, which is all normal.

Helping your foster pet adapt to your home
It’s important for your new foster pet to feel comfortable and safe in your home. Make sure they have an area they feel safe to retreat to if needed. You can cover their crate or carrier in blankets or just put their bed in a quiet area. It’s also best to establish a routine right away. Keep feeding, play time and/or walk time to the same times every day.

You’ll also want to do a bit animal-proofing to your home before bringing home a new foster pet. Inspect the area where you are going to keep your foster pet and get rid of anything that would be unsafe for them to chew on or play with. Make sure to latch any cupboards and doors that they could get into.

  • Clear out small and sharp objects from low tables and floors
  • Move curtains/drapes that can be chewed, clawed, or pulled off the wall out of reach
  • Move electrical cords out of reach, or cover them
  • Keep washer and dryer units closed
  • Cover trash cans
  • Keep toilet lids closed
  • Keep houseplants out of reach

Animals are curious and will want to explore their new surroundings. Never underestimate what your foster pet could get into.

What to do if a foster pet needs veterinary care?

It’s always best to speak with the shelter or rescue you’re fostering with about how to handle any medical emergencies. There may be a preferred way of managing a crisis, require notification prior to treatment or they may have a specific veterinarian they work with.

Did you know? Roughly 20% of owned animals are surrendered to the Toronto Humane Society because their owners could not provide them with the medical care they require.1

It’s important to make the health and well-being of your foster pet a priority. Veterinary costs can add up really quickly. Make sure to always check with the shelter or rescue staff before making an appointment with a veterinary clinic. Without proper clearance, the adoption group most likely cannot reimburse you for any medical costs.

Fostering an animal can be very rewarding for you and a great way to save the lives of cats and dogs in need. There’s nothing better than seeing a shelter animal thrive and become a loving companion or sending them off to their happy forever family.

Need coverage for your furry family members? Toronto Humane Society Pet Health Insurance