Foster Handbook: foster home setup

Foster cats and kittens need a Safe Room, an indoor space separate from other household animals. Any indoor space free of hiding places or places where a cat could get stuck will work, as will any room that’s easier to clean with hard surfaces.

A bathroom, office or bedroom are usually good choices as long as they don’t have small spaces where the cat can hide away completely. Shy cats will do better in a less-used bathroom or office where they can’t hide completely under the bed, but can take shelter in a closet or under a desk or chair covered with a blanket.

If the cats or kittens are shy, we recommend a smaller room with fewer places to hide, rather than a bedroom where they can retreat under the bed. It is important that foster parents visit this room often so that the cats become well socialized. Cats are not allowed outdoors under any circumstances.

Please cat proof your home by checking for and removing: string, ribbon, yarn, rubber bands, plastic milk jug rings, paper clips, loose jewelry, pins and needles, or anything else that could be swallowed.

We recommend that all foster cats and kittens be kept in a separate room for at least 21 days. That allows time for illnesses that may be incubating when the cat comes in to show up in the foster cat or kitten. Kittens who are born outside may have been exposed to more serious illness than kittens who were born inside.

There are parasites, fungal infections and viruses that can be debilitating or even deadly to cats. The fungal infection ringworm is not deadly, but can spread to other pets and humans too.

We can’t always know the exact health of our foster animals when they come to us. If you have other cats, they need to be current on their vaccinations to help minimize their risk as well.

Transmitting diseases between the foster animals and your own is always a risk that you should try to minimize with time and good hygiene. To do that, we recommend changing clothes or at least changing shoes when going into and out of your foster room (remember to remove the shoes you wear in the foster room before coming out of the room), as well as washing or sanitizing your hands in between. It’s good practice to keep a fragrance-free hand sanitizer right outside your foster room so it’s readily available.

Our state regulating agency, PACFA, requires an initial inspection of the home in order to be approved as a foster parent. PACFA also limits the total number of animals in a foster home to eight.

However, in Colorado Springs the maximum number of cats is 4 (it’s 6 in combination with dogs in Fountain for a detached home and in Monument). A mother cat and her kittens count as one animal.