Top 7 Questions a Pet Haven Cat Foster Is Asked About Fostering 09/28/2023 By Kerry S When I picked up my first foster cat at Saint Paul Animal Control in 2017, I knew little about fostering or the world of animal rescue. I knew their cat room was full, floor to ceiling with cages of meowing cats, some in danger of being euthanized. And I knew I had a warm, safe place for one. Snow was a young, sweet tuxedo who had recently had three kittens under a porch. Someone had identified her as a good choice for a first-time foster. She came home with me. That was the beginning of our friendship and my fostering journey. Since then I have fostered nearly 40 cats, of all ages, colors, and temperaments. People are often curious about the process of fostering and maybe you are too. These are the top questions I’ve been asked: 1. Do you pay for vet care and supplies? As a foster with Pet Haven of Minnesota, you don’t pay for ANY vet care or supplies. Most of the needed care will be completed at Pet Haven’soffice in St. Paul. If additional care is needed, you choose from Pet Haven’s approved vetting locations. There is likely one close to you. Food, litter, litter boxes, toys, and all the rest are available at Pet Haven’s office. You may end up like me, buying extras like catnip bananas and cute cat beds on sale at T.J. Maxx because it’s fun. But that’s totally up to you. 2. Where do the cats come from? They come from a wide range of places: owner surrenders; city shelters and nonprofit shelters; or sometimes veterinarians who have been asked to euthanize a cat who has lots of life left. There are all sorts of reasons cats end up in these places such as financial hardship, owner death, divorce, allergies, lack of time or interest and many others. I’ve fostered cats that were found as strays, weren’t getting along with other animals in the home, were thrown into dumpsters, and all sorts of other circumstances. Pet Haven has a network of volunteers who work with owners, shelters and vets to connect cats in need with available fosters. When you are ready to foster, you choose from the available cats posted. An assigned cat mentor can help you decide if the kitty is a good fit for your home. The need always far outweighs the available fosters. 3. What do you do with your foster cat when you go on vacation? Pet Haven has a broad network of fosters who can help out when you are away by temporarily taking your furry friend into their home. This is called “respite care.” You may also choose to have a family member or friend check on your foster instead. This is often fine if you clear it with the organization first. 4. Do you choose your own adopter? Yes! Pet Haven is big on fosters choosing the best fit for our foster animals. We know them best. That’s the wonderful thing about the fostering system. Because they are in a home and not a cage, they can relax enough so we can get to know their true selves. We get to know their likes and dislikes, their quirks and habits. Would they be best in a quiet home or a busy one with lots of activity? Do they need lots of attention or need to be with another furry friend? We decide. When a cat is ready for adoption, the foster writes a bio and a volunteer posts it on the Pet Haven website, which also links to Petfinder. An adoption team screens candidates and sends applicants to the foster. Since Snow was quite social, I placed her in an active home with a big family to give her lots of love. 5. How do you let them go? I think of that packed room of cats in need when I first picked up Snow. I think of how by letting one go I get to open another cage and give another deserving cat a chance at a full, happy life. It’s not easy and sometimes saying goodbye really hurts. But there’s also a joy when I have found a great forever home and I know they will be loved. I tell myself that even though it can feel like it, they are never “mine” but just staying with me temporarily. People wonder if there’s something emotionally different between someone who fosters and someone who doesn’t. I have often wondered this too, but I don’t think there is. I think that we are able to focus on being of service to the animals who need us. Learning about the incredible need for fosters has helped me have that focus. 6. How long do you keep them? It totally depends on their situation. The cat could be ready for adoption in just a few weeks. Or, if they have medical issues, social issues or need more time to decompress due to the stress they have been under, they may need more time. I’ve had foster cats for as short as two weeks and as long as 10 months. The average is probably closer to two to three months. 7. Do you get support as a foster? No one has actually ever asked me this. But I want you to know the answer is yes! When you join Pet Haven you are joining Minnesota’s oldest foster-based rescue, which has a deep network of support for fosters. You will be paired with a mentor, who can help you on your journey. There is a network of other volunteers and fosters who you can meet at events and online who offer support when needed. The staff is also there to help, including a full-time vet care manager and a behavior expert. If you are interested in becoming a foster, get started by completing the foster application. A volunteer will reach out to you to answer any additional questions you have and complete a virtual home visit. Even if you just help one animal in need, you will be making a difference. You are needed. About the author: Mary Christine Kane began fostering in 2017 after losing her long-time feline companion, Annie. Since then, she has made her home a safe transition place, helping foster cats become their happiest, healthiest selves. Mary adopted foster cats Ginger and Mo, a pair of ginger sisters, in 2023 so Mary now focuses on respite fostering and volunteering in other ways. Mary works in marketing and is a writer. Her story about the beginning of her fostering journey was included in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Lessons Learned from My Cat, published in 2023. You can find her online at marychristinekane.com. Snow, finding comfort in foster care.