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How Long Do You Foster Kittens For?

Updated on February 18, 2018
These two were our first fosters. They were with us for only 3 short days.
These two were our first fosters. They were with us for only 3 short days.

Fostering Kittens: For How Long?

Our first litter of kittens was with us for just 3 days. We picked them up from the vet and they were with us until the adoption event that weekend our rescue group puts on at the local Petsmart. Both were adopted that day and our time with them was complete.

On average though, litters of foster kittens are with us about 3-6 weeks. Enough time to get them to 2.5lbs and fixed + a week for recovery. Our rescue group holds adoptions events frequently and use the time they are ready coincides with any events However any kittens that are not adopted are placed in the kitten room at Petsmart so that potential adopters can see them. If here isn’t an event they would go to the kitten room and placed in a one of the viewing boxes as soon as one is available.

A recent group of fosters were with us for 2 months. A litter of 4 kittens came to us at 3 months old, they were ready for spay and neuter and the appointment was already scheduled by our rescue groups contact. Shortly after they arrived we noticed their stool was not right.

After a sample was sent to the vet it came back that they had coccidia. A regime of antibiotics was necessary as well as time for them their digestive systems to get back to normal and produce a healthy stool.

Finally they were healthy and ready for adoption. They were placed at Petsmart and all 4 adopted before the end of the following weekend.

Is 3 To 6 Week Foster Commitment Standard?

3 to 6 Weeks has been the aberate time fosters have stayed with us but the length of time foster kittens would be staying in your home really depends on a couple of factors.

  • How old are they and how long till they are ready to be fixed and receive first set of shots. If you are doing neonatals, they will need to be at least 2lbs before they can be fixed and that won’t be until they are about 7-10 weeks old.
  • How healthy are they? A reputable shelter or rescue organization is not going to adopt out sick kittens unless it’s been determined that it is a long term illness or disability and potential adopter are going to be sought out that are willing to take this on. Generally for kitty’s that require medicine to get over a cold or GI illness, they will need time to get healthy and this can extend the amount of time they are with you.
  • What are the resourses of the shelter or rescue organization? Our rescue works with the local Petsmart so all kittens and cats ready for adoption can get in person exposure. They also post all that are ready on Petfinder to reach people searching online. They also hold frequent adoption events. Together this combination makes it possible for them to adopt out a large number of kittens and cats pretty quick. Fewer resources may mean less opportunities to find a potential adopter. Ask these question when applying foster with a shelter or rescue group so you know that your not going to have kittens grow into adult cats.

What If They Never Get Adopted

Foster kitten programs run by shelter and rescue organizations occasionally run into situations where the cat is difficult to be adopted out.

This will not mean that you are now responsible and the new owner of the foster. Ask your organization what they do with difficult to adopt cats.

If the kitten or cat just isn’t suited to becoming a house cat they could potentially be placed in a barn cat type situation. Depending on the organization they may offer this cat for free or at a discount to a farm or country home that would be willing to feed the cat and provide it shelter in an outdoor structure in the hopes that it can become a mouser and take care of rodent pests.

There are many people that are compelled to extend their hearts out to sick or disabled kittens that have health issues. So while it may take longer to adopt out, a sick or disabled cat can still be adoptable. Talk to your contact about this. If you prefer to take on multiple litters of kittens instead of holding a disabled cat until it can be adopted, ask for it to be placed with someone that would prefer caring for 1 foster for a longer time commitment, instead of litters and litters of kittens.

In the end you will not be responsible for this cat forever unless you want to be. They are the responsibility of the organization and they will do whatever it takes to get the cat adopted out of their program and into a safe place for it to spend its life.

© 2018 Stephanie


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