Becoming a foster means all of the cuddles and none of the commitment, all while making an important contribution to the effort to save cats’ lives. It’s a truly rewarding experience and we have cats searching for temporary homes appropriate for most any lifestyle and cat-experience level. While saying goodbye can be tough, and recent rescues can contend with issues ranging from shyness to illness, it can also be lots of fun and we’ll be with you every step of the way. There is a reason why many of our fosters keep coming back for more!
Fostering a rescue cat is one of the most powerful things you can do to save cats’ lives. In New York City, hundreds of thousands of cats live on the streets facing the dangers of cars, disease, cold, starvation and cruelty. Rescuers all over the city work tirelessly to help, but places to hold cats while they wait for adoption are scarce. Every cat in a foster home means another can be taken off the streets or out of the shelters. A cat in a foster home is also less stressed and healthier than a cat in a shelter environment!
How do I get started?
The first step is to make sure that everyone in your household has thought about the responsibilities that come with fostering and is on board. (Make sure that new roommate isn’t harboring an unfortunate cat allergy). If you’re all set, please fill out a Foster Application! We’ll review it, contact your references, and be in touch when and if you’re accepted (don’t worry, we’re happy for people of all ages, backgrounds, and experience levels to foster for us! The application is mostly to learn more about you). If we hear back from your references promptly you can get started in no time, often the same day. Accepted fosters have access to the list of available cats and can schedule a time to pick up their chosen foster and any needed supplies online.
What cats can I foster?
Cats looking for foster homes are often recent rescues that are getting ready for the cafe, kittens too young for the cafe, or cats wouldn’t enjoy the cafe for health or behavioral reasons. The cafe is a busy environment with lots of feline and human activity and plenty of very lovely cats would much prefer to hang out on your sofa until adoption! Once you’re accepted to foster, you’ll get access to a full list of cats that need homes with information on their needs and personalities. There is usually a fairly wide selection and new cats get posted frequently! You can choose your project or reach out for help picking one that would be right for your lifestyle.
Can I foster a cat I met at the cafe?
Cats from the cafe have already been through our foster system! They are ready for adoptive homes and almost always will live at the cafe until they find them. If a cat at the cafe needs a break, you’ll see them on the foster website once you’re accepted into the program.
How long will I keep my foster?
While some fosters will only be with you for a few weeks, some may need a home for much longer, even months. We give you the best idea we can during the selection process, but sometimes, especially when cats have special needs and will stay with you until adoption, we won’t be able to give you a definitive answer! We usually ask that you have at least a month to devote to fostering unless we’ve discussed a time table for a particular cat ahead of time. Don’t worry, we know life happens. If needed we’ll always work with you to find a place for your foster to land safely.
What kind of a daily time commitment is fostering?
Depending on the foster cat you choose, fostering can take barely any time at all (in the case of a chill adult cat) or literally keep you up nights (in the case of bottle babies). We are always happy to chat before you pick a foster if you want to be sure to select one that will fit your schedule. That said, if things come up, like an unexpected illness that requires a vet visit, you might have to be willing to work with us to get your foster where they need to be. We know you’re busy and do our best to make things go as smoothly as possible!
What will I have to provide? What will come with the foster?
We happily provide first time fosters with a starter kit that includes some food, a litterbox, a scoop, and litter. We also send cats in loaner carriers. Unless your foster is eating special food, you’re responsible for providing ongoing food and litter (and cuddles upon demand, of course). You are also responsible for providing transportation for your foster for any scheduled vet visits, though we try to help in cases of emergency. Finally, if you’re headed out of town for a few days, you’ll need to find a pet sitter if we can’t recruit a volunteer FosterSitter. We of course have a list of suggestions that are cafe-cat approved!
I don't have a car, can I still foster?
We’re very happy for foster cats to take taxis or rideshares like Uber or Lyft, and we haven’t had a driver turn up their nose yet. Many cats are also ok with public transportation. If you live close by, we can occasionally help with transportation on a limited basis.
Will I have to take my foster cat to the vet?
We provide all medical care for foster cats. Unless you want to, you’ll never have to pay a vet bill! You will be required to bring your foster cat back and forth to the cafe for scheduled well check ups and other appointments if they are needed. You’ll know about expected appointments when you sign up for a particular cat so you can plan. Recently rescued cats do get sick! If something unexpected comes up, the team will work with you to get your foster cat the care they need, whether that means a vet visit, medication, or a pep talk and some extra treats.
What if my foster cat gets sick/starts chewing my stuff/makes a totally weird sound/acts bonkers?
Cats will be cats and we’ve seen it all! Besides being in contact with the cafe team, you’ll also have a Foster Manual, the Foster Team website, a Foster Mentor, and a Slack channel at your disposal for any questions, serious or silly! We also all love cat pictures.
What will my resident pets think? Will they be at risk?
We encourage people that already have indoor-only cats and other pets to foster. Many of our rescues are used to living in multi-animal communities or multi-animal households. To better ensure a smooth transition, we require that you quarantine new arrivals for at least two weeks. Not only does this prevent the spread of germs, it also makes it much more likely that everyone will be best buds when they do meet! All cats are tested for FeLV/FIV before going to foster and all cats old enough to begin vaccinations do so before heading to you. Please make sure your resident animals are healthy and up to date on their vaccinations before bringing a new animal of any kind home!
How will I help my foster cat get adopted?
One of your biggest responsibilities as a foster parent is to create a great adoption listing for your new friend! We’ll take care of posting it on our site and all across the internet, but your social network is also a great way to get the word out about your amazing foster. We just know your brother’s cousin’s barber is in the market for the perfect furry friend.
Can I adopt my foster cat?
We love it when fosters adopt! If you decide you can’t bear to say goodbye, you’ll be able to put in an application to be considered as an adoptive parent. So long as your application is the first, you’ll be first in line.
What if I need to go out of town? Or move? Or my allergic friend moves in? Or I have an emergency?
We know you have a life and we’re happy to try to work with your schedule. If you’ve got a weekend away coming up, a volunteer foster-sitter may be able to help pick up the slack. If you know you have a big trip, move, or work commitment planned that will mean you have to say goodbye to your foster at a certain time, let us know and we can help you pick a cat that can find new digs when the time comes. Sometimes life just happens. If you have an emergency we’ll always have a soft place for your foster to land.