Foster Handbook: introducing the space

Because cats in a new environment are stressed, their first reaction is to run and hide. Please set up in advance your Safe Room, a small, separate room for the cats or kittens.

If you are taking in a cat or kittens known to be shy, please close off all small spaces in the room, ideally, not a bedroom for this reason. We will provide hiding places like carriers and tents (boxes work well for this too), so you can monitor them more closely.

If you must use a bedroom, make sure the bottom of the bed has no voids that a cat or kitten could crawl into. You can use empty boxes for this or better yet, place your mattress on the floor. Close off any other potential small spaces too.

Take the foster cat/kittens into the foster room where they will be living. Open the carrier and let the cat choose whether to come out. Often a cat will prefer to stay inside the carrier for several hours, until the cat feels safe. Give the cat time to adjust to a new territory.

Pay attention to how the cat responds. Your new cat or kitten may not be able to tolerate some handling because of its past, or have a fear of certain toys. Cats will tell you when they are ready for the next step with calming behaviors like purring, stretching and grooming.

Visit the room often but let the cats set the pace for the visits without forcing attention, at least for the first few days. When they are ready, they will approach you.

Please try not to force the interaction and instead, let the cat decide when to pet him or her. Back off and go more slowly with signs of stress such as hunched body or ears not forward. Proceed slowly with signs of pleasure such as the cat leaning into your petting.

Allowing cats to adapt slowly to their new environment helps them adjust better. How long this takes depends on the cat’s temperament, past experiences, and the presence of other animals in the household. Your patience is crucial to success in letting your foster animal know it is now in a safe environment.

However, a cat or kitten known to be shy will require slightly different handling. Please discuss these cats with your Foster Manager before bringing home. If possible, attend a Shy Cat Handling class at the Haven before you bring home a shy cat or kitten.