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What’s it Like to Foster for Cat Adoption Team?

A pile of 4 small kittens of varying coat colors naps together. A black-and-brown tabby yawns wide.

Each year about 1,000 cats and kittens go through our foster program to prepare for adoption. We recently chatted with a few of our foster volunteers to learn more about their experience fostering with Cat Adoption Team (CAT). Here’s what they had to say:

A short-haired white cat sits crouched in a windowsill.
Emmy stayed with Amy in foster for a month before she was adopted

CAT: How long have you been a foster parent?
Amy N.: This is my third year fostering for CAT but I have been fostering off and on for over 35 years.
Nicole G.: I started fostering in 2008 with the ASPCA in NYC. I’ve been a CAT foster parent since moving to Oregon in 2021!
Anna S.: About a year.

Nicole snuggles Pippin, a recent foster kitten

CAT: Why did you start fostering?
AN: My daughter and I were volunteering with CAT when the call went out for temporary foster homes.  We had a spare room going unused at the time, and decided to take in an adult cat.  The whole family enjoyed helping care for the foster cat, and we decided to sign up as foster parents.
NG: Back in 2008, when I was looking for a volunteer opportunity with a shelter, the staff mentioned their foster program and it seemed like the perfect fit. I had never heard of fostering, but it was so appealing to care for cats and kittens who needed a break from the shelter. By the time I moved to Oregon, I knew that I had to find an organization that also had a foster program because it’s such a critical part of animal rescue.
AS: I found myself with extra space in my apartment last summer and nothing to do with it. I had recently learned that my dog LOVES kittens when I adopted my first cat, Marlow, from CAT the previous year. I thought I would use the extra space to care for kittens/cats that Roo could befriend/socialize until my roommate reclaimed the space. She moved back 8 months ago, but by that point I had already fallen in love with fostering and made the space to accommodate the little babies in my own personal areas. I have been actively fostering since.

A person stands, holding multiple small kittens. They are striped and black. The person smiles at the camera as do a few kittens.
With the help of a wearable wrap, Anna snaps a selfie with a recent foster group

CAT: What do you like best about fostering with CAT?
AN: There is a huge amount of support from staff, foster mentors, and other foster families.  The robust training program makes sure everyone can feel confident about bringing a foster cat or kitten into their home.
NG: I love the foster community that we’ve built. I’ve never felt more supported by a group of like-minded individuals. Until you’ve experienced the stress of being a foster parent, it’s hard to fully grasp what we go through. We are there to assist each other during the lowest of lows and the highest of highs.
AS: CAT’s people resources are one of its most valuable assets. From the foster department, to my mentor, to peer foster parents, there is no lack of support or resources in our community. CAT sets its fosters up for success from the get-go and are there to support them from the moment they take kittens home until the moment they say goodbye and even sometimes after.

This trio of siblings grew up in Nicole’s foster room before heading to loving homes

CAT: Best piece of advice for someone interested in fostering?
AN: Start simple. There are always cats that don’t have any issues but would love a quiet place to stay while waiting for adoption, and kittens that just need to get a little older and gain weight before their spay/neuter surgery. Once you feel more comfortable with fostering, you can start taking the more specialized training and care for a greater variety of fosters.
NG: You don’t need a lot of space! If you’re doubting whether you have enough room for a foster, the answer is that you absolutely have the space. You always find a way to make it work! Just remember, any cat or kitten would prefer to be in a home versus a cage in the shelter.
AS: Try it! Even if you don’t think you have the correct set up or the perfect circumstances, you should reach out to your local shelter to see what kind of resources and support they offer their foster parents. At the end of the day, these cats and kittens just need a temporary place to stay and be cared for before moving on to their forever home. If you have love and a little bit of time and space to hold for these babies, you should 100% give it a try because there are countless cats and kittens out there right now that need just that.

A black-and-white cat lounges in a windowsill. Through the window, we see trees behind her.
Lottie was one of Amy’s most recent foster cats. She was adopted in early March

If you’ve been on the fence about fostering and this nudged you over, check out the foster page to get started. And if you want to see more about what it’s like to foster, you can also follow along with many of CAT’s foster families on social media.

About Cat Adoption Team

Cat Adoption Team (CAT) is the largest cat shelter in the Pacific Northwest. We offer adoption, foster care, and veterinary services to homeless cats and kittens.

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