Becoming a foster parent for one or more of our rescue kittens can be a wonderful and very rewarding experience.
Many of the kittens that come to us are happy, healthy, well-adjusted felines just looking for a permanent home. However, there are times when a kitten needs a more intensive, hands-on, approach than can be given in a shelter. This is where fostering comes in.
Kittens that really benefit from fostering may have been through some traumatic experience; most commonly a dog attack or a motor accident. They` need some special care. This might involve giving medicines (e.g. antibiotics) or simply getting the little one mobile again after surgery through play and gentle exercise. No medical knowledge is required although if you can clean a wound and change a dressing that would be a big plus.
We are also often asked to help with a lone kitten that has been found by the side of the road or begging for scraps at a street vendor’s cart. Physically, these kittens are often in quite good shape but benefit from a short time gaining confidence in a foster home before going on to a permanent home.
Our most needy rescue kittens are those that have had little or no contact with people (feral kittens). If we get them young enough (ideally under 10 weeks of age) they can learn to trust people and many become extra affectionate kittens. Recently, we were told of four very young kittens whose mother had been poisoned. They were living under some dumpsters by the railway station existing on scraps from local people. We managed to catch two of them and they were hissing, spitting balls of aggression! A few weeks with one of our foster families and they started coming out of hiding for cuddles and started to play. Two months on, they have joined our other rescue kittens and they are quite normal, socialized, friendly felines looking for a home.
In return for your time and patience, the kitten will give you the satisfaction of seeing them grow strong and begin to trust you. You will get hours of free entertainment (cancel your Netflix subscription) and unequivocal love; all this without the lifetime commitment that comes from adopting a cat. Many of our foster carers travel a lot or live in accommodation where having a full-time pet would not be possible. Here in Chiang Mai, we have a lot of people who are only here for a while. If you are likely to be returning to certain countries, e.g. Australia or the UK, taking a cat from Thailand is either very difficult and expensive or impossible without a stay in quarantine. If you love cats, fostering offers the ideal solution.
What does it take to be a foster carer?
Well, obviously you need to be someone who loves kittens and, ideally, has had prior experience of cats and kittens. You need to be a patient, fairly quiet person as many of these kittens are very nervous at first. A home with young children probably will not be suitable. If you work from home, that is a plus but not essential. Kittens sleep a lot of the time and just need a willing slave to feed them when they are hungry, give them fresh water and clean their litter box a couple of times a day. The kitten will only be with you for a short time, so it is
essential that you have somewhere safe indoors to keep it. If you already have a cat, it must be healthy and fully vaccinated before you foster a rescue kitten. Some resident cats are happy to have a companion whilst others may take offense at the latest addition.
“My wife and I have had the pleasure of being foster parents to cats and kittens for quite a few months now. Having had our own cats for over 20 years, we came to live in Chiang Mai and found ourselves missing the interactions, the playtime, the affection, and the feeling of responsibility that comes when you are a “parent” to a needy feline. We found a perfect solution in fostering: we have access to all of the wonderful aspects of cat ownership, and at the same time we offer a much-needed service. Providing immediate care to kittens that require medication and health monitoring is a rewarding experience, and especially as we see them gaining weight and improving in overall health. Overall these past months have been joyous, and they have been heartbreaking, but ultimately they have been extremely rewarding as we see a real difference being made in the lives of kittens that would otherwise face an uncertain future. In addition to this, we see countless smiles on children’s faces as we find a suitable adoptive family once a kitten is healthy enough to leave our care. Being foster carers for kittens and cats has added another dimension to our lives and we are very thankful to have the opportunity to offer our services and our time and love for these furry bundles of joy.”Kirk Holloway