Some of you may not know the difference between adopting and fostering an animal. I did not know the difference for a very long time.
Simply put, fostering is a temporary care of an animal, in this case, until my foster cat Mona finds a home.
Fostering does not have to cost you anything. The organization that rescued Mona is supplying or covering all vet, medication, food, and litter and other expenses. Supplies are delivered to my home – imagine!.. All other things, including the litter box, scoop, and scratch post as well as blankets or a toy were also provided. Since I am free to donate to the cause, I buy litter sometimes and wet food. I buy toys, catnip, and cat grass kits myself. Since it is my decision to replace the litter box and scoop every two weeks, I supply these myself as well. And, believe me, it is just joyful.
So, if you are interested in, think about this cost-free and highly meaningful experience.
As a foster mom (dad, person, and so on), you have moral and legal obligations. For example, I signed an agreement that I cannot arrange for adoption myself – this needs to go through the organization. If there is any emergency or any unusual health situation, I must give a call to the organization immediately, day or night. Morally, I must take good care of the fostered animal and provide a safe space. I should give the organization a couple of days to bring me supplies and so on. Nothing too much or too demanding. Just making sure that the animal will be cared for.
My relationships with the director of the organization/shelter and the volunteers who take her to vet and bring in supplies are very good. I increasingly become grateful and inspired by their volunteer activities and serving for such a great cause. We also made friends – this is an extra bonus 🙂 Whenever I have a question, I contact them. Together we make sure that Mona is well. It is a great team.
For someone who is meticulous, have a high sense of responsibility, and is kind of naive and un-knowledgeable about cats, their care, or health issues, I had to do a lot of google searches (only reliable resources – I have no time for vegan diet for cats who are natural carnivores and need high levels of protein, or herbal treatments for FIP kind of serious diseases). Many of my virtual friends here and in social media are also great help. My family also provided many useful tips. It is doable, friends – do not be afraid to foster and help an animal.
Many people are appreciative of fosters, and shower you with gifts and supplies. Do not be surprised by these lovely gestures. I was surprised myself – it is so good to know that there are many individuals out there who share the same interests with you.
It took me maybe 2 months to establish the most practical and easy approach to litter situation. Eventually, I learnt the difference between a litter mat and a regular mat; importance of having a separate litter garbage box in the room (to temporarily store the poop and pees in poop bags); having yet another garbage can (to dispose unconsumed food and food cans); dumping soiled litter every day to keep the room fresh; importance of small, poop bags that are life-savers; the different types of bowls (porcelain is the best in my opinion); not letting Mona eat a wet food after 3 hours of serving (it is cold here but nevertheless the food not only may get spoiled, but also chemically react); mixing water with wet food to increase liquid intake (Mona is not a fan of water); watching the litter box usage to get a sense of her regular bowel movements (constipation is a real issue and can be quite serious after 24 hours), and so on. Now I feel like we have a good system that works for both of us.
Giving a medication to a cat is a real art. I learnt that some medication can be crushed and mixed with the wet food, but not all of them. Some medications seem to have a protective coat, which, if disrupted, release the medication too fast. Keep this in your mind. Always consult a vet. Some liquid medication can be mixed with the meal, but in my experience if it smells or tastes differently, cat may not be well receptive. If you can, orally administer the medication using a syringe (which I could not, but you should try). Some pills also need to be orally administered. We had difficulty with one pill. I could not do it myself, so I had to find a way to trick Mona. So you can use pill pockets, or if they do not work, you can hide the pill in something soft that your cat likes. For Mona, that was cheese. Some other cats, it may be something else. Get ready for the experimentation 🙂
Many house plants and human food are toxic or poisonous for cats. Do your search and comply with the recommendations. Mona ate a plant at home, and got sick. It turns out I mis-labelled the plant even though I had checked its toxicity status. It is good to be on the safe side. Interestingly, Mona is okay with drinking milk and eating yogurt – so I take this as she is not lactose intolerant. Moral of the story – you never know what cats can eat or not, and whey eat, what might be the consequences 🙂
Our shelter/organization does not recommend treats. The way I see there is a lot of information out there for their potential mis-use/over-use, and health effects. Treats, as their name implies, is supposed to be given only every once a while, and they are not necessary. I used it to suppress the smell of a pill. Otherwise we are good with no treat.
The wet food is more expensive than the kibbles (hard or dry food), yet for cats they seem great – their water contents is high and they have generally less carbs than kibbles. Carbs are not so good for cats and can lead to obesity. Too many health problems are associated with obesity/over-weight in cats. Mona has become overweight under my watch, so now she is served less food than before. For her health.
To be continued