Interested in fostering (and/or adopting) a litter of kittens? They may be small and fuzzy but they also poop a lot and you could end up keeping them all by choice. So before venturing into the unknown of fostering kittens, take a look into the life cycle of a kitten foster parent.

1. You say to your husband, “Oh honey, look! The local shelter is seeking foster families for their overwhelming number of kittens! Wouldn’t that be super fun, to be a kitten foster parent for a few weeks? We’ll just keep them in my office.” Because when you already have pets, it’s best to keep them separated for at least two weeks so they can adjust to the move and the new smells.

2. Much filling out of forms and vetting, because shelters don’t give foster kittens to just anyone. You need to be up to date on vaccines with your veterinarian for your current pets and have references as well. While you await confirmation of your acceptance as a foster family, you inform the small child living with you that you might get to foster a litter of kittens. Small child explodes with joy.

3. You’ve been approved! Time to drive to the shelter and pick up the adorable little buggers. Shelter staff greets you with joy and takes you in the back to let you pick out which foster kittens to take home. Then staff gently suggests taking litter of three little gray and white boys because one of the boys has been getting a bit aggressive in the cage; long term living in cages causes both health and behavior issues. You readily agree because they are the cutest, ever.

posey and zeus - fostered by kitten foster parent

Posey + Zeus, both adopted.

4. Once home, you set up a small litter pan and some food bowls in your home office. Then you open the carrier and let the little guys out. They tumble out and immediately begin sniffing every corner of the room. The kittens have gradations of fuzziness; one is super long haired and fuzzy, one is only about 50% fuzzy, and one is completely short haired except for a tiny tuft on his chin. He’s also got a cowlick. He’s also the aggressive one. You begin handling the kittens as soon as you can, and also use the “kitten burrito” technique of wrapping the aggressive kitten up in a small towel as a way to be safe while he acclimates.

5. You foolishly allow your small child to name the kittens, even though they already had names, and naming cats means ownership. The small child, currently obsessed with the Greek gods, names them Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades.

6. You leave them in the office overnight. They are sweet and quiet, but when you open your office door they immediately try to bolt into the hallway — until they see the dog, and then they all freeze and back away slowly. You go into the office to cuddle the kittens and are nearly bowled over by the smell of the litter pan. Three kittens can sure poop.

7. You spend the day working while trying not to breathe through your nose. Your day is interrupted over and over again because CUTENESS. One kitten, Poseidon, keeps climbing your leg like it’s a tree. You don’t mind because he then purrs really loudly and is the cutest.

8. Your small child brings all their friends over to see the kittens. The kittens become well trained in being handled by kids. You continue trying to work while squeals of joy reach ridiculously high decibels.

9. By day three, you realize there is simply no keeping the kittens just in the office. You unearth the baby gate and block off the stairs so there are no kitten tumbles and you can keep the other pets from coming upstairs. You discover that three tiny kittens that barely weigh a pound each sound like a herd of elephants running around on the top floor of the house.

10. Gradually the foster kittens grow. When they each weigh two pounds, it’s time to take them back to the shelter to be neutered. You always want to neuter and spay your pets to help eliminate the need for crowded shelters. Surgery goes perfectly! Now it’s time to write the ads offering them up for adoption. You write lengthy and sweet descriptions of the kittens. You stumble when writing Hades description because of the three, he’s the least friendly and hardest to handle. You realize he might not actually be adoptable. You are secretly pleased because you like cranky cats.

11. Placement! A nice young lady decides to adopt both Zeus and Poseidon. You give them a final bath, and once dry you pack them up and drive them to their new home. You find it a bit hard to let the carrier go as you hand it to the new owner, but you do it anyway. You may or may not shed many tears while driving home. Small child is inconsolable. You wonder if fostering was a good idea after all.

12. You go home to your own pets and the lone foster kitten left. No one responds to his ad for a week. Shockingly, as soon as his brothers are gone, he becomes the sweetest kitten ever. He’s all about cuddles and loves curling up between your feet. You forget to update his ad with this new information about his cuteness.

kitten foster parent to adopted cat. Fostering kittens, foster kitten

Leo/Louie all grown up

13. It’s been two weeks, and suddenly your small child decides to change the last kitten’s name to Leo. Your husband votes for Louie. You just alternate the two names. You realize that you’re not going to give this kitten away. At this point the kitten has access to the full house and gets along very well with the two adults cats and ignores the dog. He clearly fits in.

14. You call the shelter and let them know. You fill out more paperwork, pay a small fee, and receive a nice packet of info in return. You go home and announce to the kitten that he has found his permanent home. He, in typical cat fashion, ignores you and spends all his time playing with a tiny fragment of torn tennis ball the dog left behind.

15. You settle into the reality of being the owner of three cats and a dog. You begin planning to be a foster kitten parent again this spring, but you promise not to keep any of the kittens this time. You swear.


Do you have experience fostering? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Written by Cecily Kellogg