Have you recently decided to open up your home and foster puppies or kittens? Congratulations! Your home is about to get very cute. By fostering a batch of kittens or puppies, you are helping your local animal shelter free up space for even more animals. Considering nearly half of all animals that arrive in U.S. shelters are euthanized because of a lack of space and adopters, opening up your home to foster kittens or puppies is a vital way to help solve the overpopulation crisis.
As an animal foster mom myself, I know firsthand what it feels like anticipating your next batch of kittens or puppies from the animal shelter or rescue. You want to get the babies home ASAP and start giving them cuddles and playtime! And while cuddling and playtime are vital when fostering (no really, puppies and kittens need socialization!), there are a few essentials you need to make sure you have on hand before you bring your new foster home. But, what else could you need besides food and water? Let’s break it down.
Lots and Lots of Food
As mere babies, kittens and puppies need adequate food so they can grow into healthy animals! For both puppies and kittens, you’ll want to get wet food that is specialized for their young age. If you are fostering kittens under five weeks old (and you aren’t fostering the mother), you’ll need to bottle feed the kittens. This requires a special kitten formula and a bottle. Similarly, with puppies, you’ll want to provide wet food that is specialized for them and their growing bodies!
For both kittens and puppies, you’ll want to consider a shallow food dish so that they can reach the food!
Provide a Warm, Safe Area
For both puppies and kittens, ideally, you’ll want to set them in a small area of your home, such as a bathroom. This will allow for easy cleanup and sanitization when you are cleaning the area. Make sure to remove any small choking hazards and keep an eye out for any small areas where they could explore and potentially get stuck. If you don’t have an extra bathroom, consider a mesh playpen designed for animals.
You’ll want to offer soft, warm blankets and make sure to change them out every couple of days so the area remains clean. For kittens, having some sort of heat source is crucial because you don’t want their body temperature dropping. There are heating pads specifically designed for kittens that you can heat up in the microwave, such as the Snuggle Safe. There are also stuffed animals for both kittens and puppies that provide a heartbeat inside for added comfort.
Toys, Toys, Toys
Playing with your foster pets is a great way to build trust with them. String, laser pointer, mouse toys, balls, stuffed animals … you name it and they will more than likely play with it!
Invest in a Kitchen Scale
If you are fostering kittens under eight weeks of age, consider investing in a kitchen scale that is sensitive to the ounce. This way, you’ll be able to monitor their weight and ensure they continue to thrive!
Keep Them Clean
Understandably, kittens and puppies can get very messy. Puppy pads are great to have underneath their feeding areas, as well as their litter pan for easy cleanup for kittens. After meals and going to the bathroom, keep some baby wipes nearby so you can wipe their faces and fur (just make sure the baby wipes and fragrance-free!).
You’ll want to keep all of their areas clean by using disinfectants, such as Accel, which kill most viral and bacterial agents. And of course, once you bring your batch of kittens or puppies back to the animal shelter (You did it! They are now going up for adoption!), you’ll want to give the fosters area a thorough cleaning before you bring home another batch.
And Here’s the Best Part…
Ensuring you have all the necessary supplies for your foster kittens and puppies may seem overwhelming, but here’s the best part: the animal shelter or rescue will provide all of the supplies! You are certainly welcome to buy extra supplies (such as a cat scratching post or extra toys), but the shelter or organization should provide basic needs for all animals like food, bedding, toys, ID tags, kitty litter, medications, and veterinary care.
Each organization will have their own set of requirements and paperwork for becoming a pet foster parent, so you will need to check with the shelter you want to foster for. There are common need-to-knows that include making sure you meet foster requirements, being physically able to care for an animal, and you’ll have to attend an orientation and foster training.
Looking for more information on how to take care of fosters? Check out these other One Green Planet articles:
- How to Socialize Foster Kittens
- But How Can You Say ‘Goodbye’ to Your Foster Animals?
- Here’s What I Wish I Knew Before I Started Fostering Animals
- Why Fostering Is So Important and Who to Follow for Inspiration!
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