The charity is always looking for more volunteer foster carers in the Pocklington-York & West Hull villages areas. Help is needed to alleviate some of the strain of the numerous cats and kittens it receives calls for. Fosterers are people who look after cats or kittens in their home on a short-term basis until they are ready to go to our homing centre.
Rose Atkin charity coordinator said: “Fosterers are vital to our rescue work, as their role is caring for cats whilst they are ‘between homes’.
“The main requirements of a fosterer are patience and understanding towards animals of varying temperaments, as they will come from a range of different circumstances and backgrounds. On the practical side, it is essential to have a car, or access to a car, for picking up food/litter etc and for transport to and from our vets. In the York area this is Battle Flatts vets (Pocklington, Stamford Bridge); around Hull it is Swanbridge veterinary group (Swanland, Brough, Beverley, Market Weighton). Foster periods can range from min. 6 weeks to over six months, so volunteers need to be prepared to make this type of time commitment.”
People become fosterers for many different reasons. The obvious benefit is the companionship and affection they receive in return from their foster cat/s, as well as the great personal reward of knowing they are making a real difference to that animal’s life. Fostering may also be an option for anyone who is worried about the rising costs of owning a pet, as the charity covers the direct costs of fostering including veterinary care & medication, litter, and cat food.
Rose continued: “Fostering involves taking the cat into your home temporarily and providing all the necessities to ensure the cat is healthy and happy. Fosterers usually have a spare room in the house where the animal can be kept warm, secure and separate from other pets they may have. For cats with nursing kittens, orphan kittens, or timid cats, we typically provide a portable pen to safely contain them and make socialisation easier.
The types of rescue animals often in need of foster homes include:
- Pregnant strays, both tame and timid
- Nursing females with very young kittens
- Orphan kittens or litters under 12 weeks (not requiring hand-rearing, this is a specialist function)
- Timid strays of all ages, that would benefit from 1-to-1 care
- Cats recovering from surgical operations, & are confined to cage rest
Fosterers will be matched with an animal appropriate for their level of confidence and experience with cats. Often animals will require medication such as anti-biotics, so volunteers need to be confident when giving tablets to cats. The charity coordinator gives as much support and advice to new fosterers as they would like to help them fulfill their role successfully.
“The biggest benefit of fostering is that you are helping an animal that may have never known a loving home towards a better future. Sometimes this can be the first time in its life that the animal has felt safe and had a reason to trust humans. Even if you can only look after a cat once or twice a year, such as when another fosterer is on holiday, this will be helpful.
“Fosterers must be over 18, with no upper age limit except for being physically able enough to maintain a clean litter tray, bending, carrying, going to vets etc. So if an older person has put off getting a cat because they are concerned it may outlive them, then fostering could be the answer.”
One of our regular volunteers who lives near York has been fostering for the charity for over five years, added: “The feeling of achievement when a nervous ex-stray finally comes up to you for a fuss, after maybe weeks of shying away from human contact, is just wonderful. If you ever felt you wanted to make a real difference to an animal’s life, then please consider fostering.”
Be warned though, many fosterers fall in love with their first foster cat, and end up keeping him or her. Longterm fostering opportunities are also available for elderly cats & cats with manageable health conditions. Anyone interested should call Rose Atkin on 07967 627492 (after 6pm – NO TEXTS pls).