Foster Handbook: equipment

HCH supplies food, litter, equipment and medical services. Foster parents provide a stable and safe environment as well as socialization…and all the love!

Foster homes need:

Litter box – Cats will usually use a litter box instinctively. Cats that like to dig need a deep litter box to minimize scattering the litter out of the box. Some cats do better with a covered litter box, but we usually start out with uncovered ones. Please ask for other choices if you think the cat or kitten would benefit.

Cat litter – HCH will usually supply Swheat, the wheat-based litter we recommend. We do not usually use clay litter with kittens under 6 months old. It can cause intestinal blockage if accidentally swallowed and respiratory distress if inhaled, either of which can be fatal.

Please contact your Foster Manager for approval if you want to provide litter and do not use clay litter for kittens. We also do not use or recommend scented litters, as the chemicals in these are harmful to both cats and humans.

Carrier – HCH will loan a carrier to provide a familiar-smelling, dark, quiet place to sleep. This will be used for transporting the cat and/or kittens.

Please always cover the carrier with a towel or small blanket when transporting to minimize the cats’ stress levels. It is also a good idea to carry the carrier from the bottom and wrap it with bungee cords to make sure it doesn’t break open during transport.

Food & water – HCH will provide all food for the cats. We believe a simple food with whole meat and without by-products, corn, wheat, fruits, vegetables or food coloring is the best choice. Cats in foster care may be on a special diet, so please follow the instructions that accompany them. Please contact your Foster Manager before feeding something not on this list:

  • Costco’s Kirkland Premium Maintenance dry food (purple bag) or other approved dry food
  • Petsmart’s Authority brand canned food (or other approved wet food) in the following flavors:   Adult Chicken Pate and Kitten Chicken & Liver Pate
  • Nutro kitten dry kibble
  • KMR Milk Replacer for Kittens or Meyenberg powdered/canned or Primal frozen goat milk for newborn to 6 week old kittens 
  • Beechnut plain chicken or turkey baby food for extra calories & treats
Most cats and older kittens do well on a balanced adult kibble diet. Most foster cats should be “free fed”, which means there is always food and fresh water available.

Kittens and nursing moms will also need canned food to get enough calories. We recommend using canned food to transition kittens from their mother’s milk to kibble and to add fat to the diet of pregnant or nursing mothers. Feed moms and kittens as much as they will eat.

Fresh water in a clean bowl must be available at all times. Please change the bowl daily.

We prefer steel or ceramic for bowls and will provide dishes if you need them. Please use shallow, wide bowls to keep adult cats from having “whisker stress” from trying to hold in their whiskers while eating from a too-small bowl.

A cat with a decreased appetite might respond to food that has been warmed for a few seconds in the microwave (check with fingers for hot spots).

Cats are hardwired to be suspicious of new food because they hunt solo in the wild and could die if they eat something they shouldn’t. If the cat is rejecting food or not maintaining weight appropriately, or has diarrhea for more than the first few days, please contact your Foster Manager for instructions.

Bedding – HCH will provide bedding and towels for your cat and/or kittens. If needed for kittens or seniors, we can provide heating pads or discs also.

Toys – We always have toys available at HCH, but small balls, cardboard from toilet paper rolls, wine corks, orange juice can strips, crumpled paper and paper bags (without handles!) are also good cat toys. You can also cut fleece into small strips and tie onto milk jug rings. Adult cats sometimes like catnip but kittens usually are not interested. Please replace toys completely between foster cats or kittens.

Avoid toys that are not cat proof. This includes ribbons, feathers, strings and eyes or other parts that could be removed, chewed, and/or swallowed. Feather toys should only be used if you’re supervising adult play and never for kittens. Soft toys should be machine washable.

Scratchers – Cats need appropriate scratching options and kittens need to be taught where to scratch. We can provide cardboard scratching mats and small scratchers for kittens and adults on request.

Scale – All cats and kittens will be weighed before going into foster care. Kittens should be weighed weekly to determine if they are gaining weight appropriately or if they weigh enough to be spayed/neutered. Please see your Foster Manager about borrowing a scale for that.

Music — Cats and kittens can benefit from music in their room. We recommend classical or other calming music to get them used to human sounds as well as for white noise to block scary household sounds. Once they are used to human sounds, you can introduce television or videos to the kitties.