Preparing for Your Foster Kittens

Foster kittens should be separated from all other animals in your household and kept in a small area, such as a spare room or bathroom, where they have access to their food, water, and litter box. And because kittens cannot regulate their body temperature, this area should also be warm and draft-free. Consider an area that is easy to clean up in terms of spills and litter box accidents, which will happen as the kittens are learning. Please don’t put the kittens in a garage or place that has outdoor access; those locations are not safe.

Supplies you'll need to foster kittens

Animal shelters and rescue groups often provide supplies for their foster volunteers. In general, here’s what you’ll need to care for your foster kittens:

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  • At least one bowl for dry food and one for water: If you have a large litter of kittens, you will need to provide more than one bowl each for water and food.
  • A supply of kitten food: Royal Canin kitten food is a recommended brand.
  • New bottle for each bottle-fed litter and formula for bottle-feeding: Breeder’s Edge is a recommended brand of formula for bottle-feeding kittens.
  • Litter box with low sides: More than one might be needed for larger litters.
  • Non-clumping litter: Use pine pellets or clay litter.
  • Heat source: Kittens can’t keep themselves warm, so you have to provide a heat source. The SnuggleSafe microwave heating pad is recommended.
  • A soft place to sleep: Old towels or blankets work well.
  • A secure sleeping area: A cat carrier with the door removed or a box laid on its side work well.
  • Toys: Use kitten-safe toys that are easy to sanitize and clean. Kittens can play with them when you’re not home.
  • Scratching post: Kittens need to learn to scratch on them rather than the furniture.

Kitten-proofing your home

Foster kittens are tiny and cute, but just like children they are also very curious. They will try to get into everything to explore, so you will need to kitten-proof your home. Here are some tips:

  • Put away any small items that a kitten can swallow.
  • Hide any breakable items, block electrical outlets, and remove toxic plants.
  • If your kittens are staying in a bathroom, make sure that the toilet lid is closed at all times.
  • Block off any spaces that the kittens could crawl into and hide in.
  • When setting up your kitten room, be sure to place the litter boxes as far away from food and water as possible.

View the entire Kitten Foster Manual.

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Just a few short years ago, cats and dogs were killed in staggering numbers in this country simply because shelters didn't have the community support or the resources to save their lives. That number is now less that half a million per year, but there's still work to do to ensure a bright future for every dog and cat in America.

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