Becoming a Foster Carer means all the same snuggles, scritches, playtime, and purrs that owning a cat does – but without the lifelong commitment (unless you choose to adopt your foster cat!). It is a rewarding experience that positively impacts on the quality of life of cats who haven’t found their forever families yet.
We cover all veterinary expenses for our foster cats, and can provide you with everything you need to get started (litter and tray, food and water bowls, bedding, toys, etc). Though most of our foster carers are able to cover ongoing food and litter costs, we are able to supply those if needed. All you need to provide is the space, patience, and love!
If you are keen on signing up to foster with us, please have a look at the Frequently Asked Questions below, and if you’re happy with how we do things, you can find an application button at the bottom of the page.
Starting Point – Frequently Asked Questions
What is a foster carer?
A foster carer for IFR is someone who cares for and provides a temporary home to a homeless cat belonging to IFR; either until the cat is adopted, during a set period (in the case of a regular foster carer’s absence), or for as long as the foster carer is able and willing.
Why have foster carers?
We have no central shelter to house our rescue cats, so foster care is naturally the alternative.
There is more freedom available to us in matching cats to potential adopters when those cats have spent time in a home environment, where they had free access to affection, were enabled to grow in confidence, and received regular interactive play time – compared to cats not kept in a home environment for long periods (such as a cattery or shelter).
Some of our cats have never had a home before coming to IFR, others haven’t had the greatest homes, and others were much-loved pets before unforeseen circumstances lead to their surrender. Foster care is a necessary step for many cats with a troubled past, and our carers are fundamental to the rehabilitation of our more distressed cats. Even the most well-adjusted cat can benefit from being understood by their foster carer to aid in matching them with a perfect forever family.
What does it cost to be a foster carer?
IFR provides for all veterinary costs associated with our cats. We are usually able to provide extra bedding, litter boxes, food and water bowls, and toys to cover the needs of your foster cat/s. Our foster carers usually cover the costs of food and cat litter for their foster cats, although sometimes we are able to provide donated goods. We would love to be able to provide for all of the costs associated with our cats, but this is unfortunately not possible due to our reliance on support from donors.
I already have cats – can I still foster for IFR?
Yes, absolutely! In fact, most of our foster carers also have their own cats. We are able to offer advice on how to isolate a new cat while it adapts to the change of being somewhere unfamiliar, and on how to introduce a foster cat to your other pets safely.
What if I have other types of pets (not just cats)?
The cats in our care come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some are okay with cat-friendly dogs, some are okay with less common pets such as goats or bunnies, and others still are untested with other species but may get along just fine with the right introduction – we are always available for advice on how to properly introduce new cats to other animals.
Can I choose the name for my foster cat?
If you are taking on a foster cat that we have had in care for a while and already named, we prefer to keep the existing cat’s name, particularly if the cat has already had vet appointments under that name. It is very confusing keeping track of cats whose names have changed over time, so to lessen our paperwork headaches we ask that you continue to use the name the cat has already been given.
If you are taking on a cat that is new to IFR, you are most welcome to name the cat yourself. We do have a list of “currently unavailable” names that we maintain on our Facebook volunteers group (which are names only of currently available foster cats), and we ask foster carers to check the list and avoid any names on it when naming a new foster cat. Naming your foster cat is a fun experience, but anything that helps make our paperwork handling less confusing is a bonus for us. Of course we’re always open to negotiation, and have on rare occasions allowed an existing foster’s name to be used for a new foster.
How are foster cats advertised for adoption?
We list all our foster cats on Gumtree, and are currently working on a new website for listing our cats, but it’s all still a work in progress. Of course you can also check our social media accounts for updates on our current foster cats, particularly our Facebook page.
We ask foster carers to create and maintain cat biographies through use of our Cat Bio Template form. If you want to check your foster cat’s bio, visit our listings on the Rescue Network. If you find that your cat’s bio needs updating, visit the Cat Bio Template form and make a submission.
What if I decide I want to keep my foster cat?
If you decide you want to keep your foster cat forever, we will be happy to walk you through the adoption. Check out the Adopt page for information on the adoption process.
Foster Caring Prerequisites
IFR cats need indoor / secure homes
IFR seeks indoor (or indoor with secure cat enclosure) foster homes for all our cats. Our cats who are FIV+ and all/mostly white must be strictly indoors/confined to a cat enclosure. White or mostly white cats must not be exposed to prolonged sunlight, and infant-safe sunscreen is recommended if they like sunbathing.
Read the cat’s full biography
Please ensure that you have read every part of a cat’s bio before you apply. Our cat bios are designed to give you what information we have at hand that will help you know if a particular cat is suited to your household even just as a foster cat.
Sometimes we know that a cat doesn’t like children, or probably would not be great with them. Other times we know that a cat has never once liked a dog they’ve come into contact with, in which case we will state that they must go to a home with no dogs. It’s important for the cat, for your family, and for the IFR team that we get foster placements as right as we possibly can from the start, to avoid unnecessary stress for all.
Don’t feel shy about asking questions before filling out your Foster Carer Application Form. We are happy to answer questions about cats that are available for foster care best we can, and to can provide you with what veterinary history and general life history we are in possession of. We also invite you to speak with the cat’s current foster carer so you can get an idea of where the cat is coming from.
The Home Check
Why is a home check necessary?
There are a number of reasons why we elect to undertake home checks for new foster carers prior to cat placement.
When visiting a home, we are able to make recommendations regarding how best to help a new foster cat settle in, based on our experience and tailored to particular cats and their needs.
Additionally, we have had a number of incidents with cats escaping foster care or suffering neglect in the past, so we have learned what to look for to reduce the chances of this happening. For example, we have learned just how determined some cats are to get outside, and how far they will go to get through even the most seemingly secure windows or security doors.
We love our foster kitties and only want the best for them, health and safety-wise.
Security of the Home
Things we look at during the home check:
- How secure flyscreens are on doors and windows
- Whether or not there are security screens
- How securely doors and windows close
- Whether there are cat/dog flaps and if they can be locked
- Any other possible escape routes to the great outdoors
We will make personalised recommendations on how you can keep the cat securely indoors during the trial period. We’ve unfortunately had some determined cats escape from foster care or their adoptive homes in the past, some sadly never to be seen again, so we’ve learned the hard way what to look for to save us all the heartache!
Settling the cat in
Home checks also allow us to discuss important things like:
- Where the cat will be kept during the trial period (we always recommend a quiet room for anywhere between a few days and a few weeks, depending on the cat.
- Best location for cat’s bowls, litter, bed, scratching post, etc. that are least likely to cause stress while they settle into their new home. During the trial, the focus should be on helping the cat adapt to the change.
- The plan for (if applicable) a safe and stress-free integration for the cat into the household, e.g. other pets, children, housemates. This is especially important for cats who are shy or have endured trauma.
Our aim is to achieve the smoothest change of foster homes possible, with emphasis on making it easy for you and for the cat.