Ready to Foster Cats? Here’s Some Advice From a Pro
Fostering kittens and cats that were rescued as strays or pulled from a shelter before being euthanized is definitely inspiring. If you’ve been thinking about doing your part to save the lives of kitties but you don’t know how to start, one of the best places to get the advice you need is from an experienced foster mom like Danielle Chavez.
Check out the tips that Danielle shared with us, and then consider following her on Instagram @fostercatsandkittens to see what it’s like to experience the ups and downs of fostering.
What motivated you to start fostering kittens and cats?
Danielle: My kids had grown and moved out of the house, and my husband went back to college, and I found myself with a ton of time on my hands. I needed to fill my time with something that made me happy. I’ve always been a huge animal lover, especially cats, so I decided to go down to the shelter and look into fostering. I left with a mama and three kittens.
Why did you decide to start an Instagram account to post photos and videos of your fosters?
Danielle: I think I’ve had my fostering page on Instagram for a couple of years. I wanted to start an IG to find my fosters’ homes and to show people how fun and rewarding fostering can be. If I can inspire just one person to foster and save a precious little kitten’s life, it is all worth it.
You’ve gained a strong following on Instagram. Are you surprised by the number of followers?
Danielle: I’m not surprised by the number of followers as much as I’m surprised by how everyone is emotionally invested in my fosters. It’s easy for me because I’m with them constantly. But people laugh and cry with me during my fostering adventures, and I think that’s pretty special, to have such a connection with complete strangers. I’ve also become friends with some amazing people who share my passion—some of whom I’ve never even met in person.
Do you think that social media is helping to spread the word about adopting, fostering, and TNR (Trap Neuter Return)?
Danielle: I absolutely think social media is helping to spread the word. Many people don’t know what TNR is and the impact that it has, not only for the individual cat but also for the entire community. Social media is an amazing vehicle to help educate people on how they can make a difference.
Why do you advocate for TNR?
Danielle: TNR is one of the best ways to help control the overpopulation of cats. By doing TNR on just one cat, it saves so many kittens from being born on the streets. 90% of kittens won’t make it to their first birthday. If more people would just get involved with TNR, we could stop so much needless suffering. In Las Vegas, since 2010, we’ve brought down the euthanasia rate in the local kill shelter by 89%. That is a statistic that I’m proud to have been a small part of. We can do this everywhere.
How do you find sites where TNR is needed? Do you keep any of the kittens/cats for fostering and adoption?
Danielle: I’m a volunteer trapper with a non-profit called C5. They have a queue that we can pick our jobs from. Also, people contact me directly if they need help. Being successful on a TNR job means getting every single cat. It just takes one female to make the colony explode again. I’ve kept kittens for fostering from TNR jobs, and have also found many foster homes. I can’t, unfortunately, do it for every single cat and kitten, as there just aren’t enough fosters.
You have resident cats, along with multiple fosters at any given time. How do you protect both your resident kitties and your fosters from getting sick? What are the protocols you follow to keep all of your cats as healthy as possible?
Danielle: There is always a risk when you foster. I try and do everything I can to limit that risk. I keep my resident cat vaccinated, and she doesn’t have access to the fosters until I’ve had them tested and they’ve been quarantined for a set amount of time. Also, a huge part of fostering is cleaning. Keeping everything clean is a way to limit bugs or germs from getting passed around. Bleach is life.
How do you get all of the resources that you need for your fosters?
Danielle: I spend a lot of my own money on my fosters, but I also get a lot of donations from my IG followers and some amazing friends. People see the work I do and want to help the cause. I don’t take any supplies from the shelters or rescues. If I am going through a shelter or rescue, I will use those resources for vaccinations and spaying/neutering.
What criteria and process do you use to find the perfect homes for your fosters?
Danielle: I’m super picky when it comes to my forever homes. I’m not afraid to say no—in fact, I say no more than I say yes. The cats have to be 100% indoor-only, and no declawing. If the potential adopters rent, they need proof from their landlord that they can have a pet. Sometimes, I do home checks. And I always follow my gut. If someone passes all of my screening and they qualify, but I have a gut feeling that it isn’t the right fit, I say no.
What advice would you give to those who want to start fostering?
Danielle: My advice for someone who wants to start fostering is to just try it one time. To see the impact you’ll have from doing it just one time will make you want to continue. You don’t need any special training to be a foster parent, but I would suggest surrounding yourself with other people who do the same thing. Having support and a sounding group makes all the difference.
What advice can you give to those interested in socializing feral kittens and cats?
Danielle: Time, love, and patience. I had a foster that I had for almost a year before I felt she was adoptable.
You inspire a lot of people who want to rescue animals. Who inspires you?
Danielle: My fosters inspire me. Looking into their sweet little faces every day, that’s what makes me keep doing what I do.
Finally, is there anything else that you’d like to add?
Danielle: Fostering and TNR save lives!
More by Lisa Selvaggio