Foster Care

Email applications to spayhumboldt@aol.com : FosterApplication

Please read the following information before submitting your application. 

What you need:

  • PetLac Kitten Milk Replacement
  • Syringe or Bottle to feed
  • Chicken Soup for Kitten Lovers Soul wet canned food, and dry kibble
  • Heating pad (for kittens 1-3 weeks old)
  • Meat Baby Food
  • Non-Clumping Litter: Clay or we prefer World’s Best Cat Litter.
  • Small room, closet, or bathroom for the kittens (should be separate from your own animals).
  • Lots of towels and blankets (need to be changed regularly)
  • The ability to monitor kitten health and remain in close contact with HART and bring them back to us when they are 2 lbs (around 8 – 10 weeks) when they will be spayed/neutered. All potential adopters will be chosen by HART, complete an adoption contract and pay the $135 adoption fee.

What Fostering Involves
As a foster parent, you will be responsible for feeding, cleaning, socializing, and cuddling your kittens. In some cases, you may need to bottle feed, give medications or transport kittens to the rescue or vet appointments (as arranged by HART only). We ask that you are able to provide your own PetLac kitten replacement milk, Kitten food (usually a mix of meat baby food and preferably Chicken Soup for the Soul wet Kitten formula or Whole Earth Foods wet food kitten formula) as well as non-clumping litter (when they are old enough to use it around 3-4 weeks old).

In terms of space, you don’t need much. A laundry room, bathroom, or extra bedroom is helpful, but a cage set up in the corner of your bedroom or den can work just fine. Keep foster animals separate from your own pets.  Depending on how old the kittens are, you’ll be caring for them for one to eight weeks.

Finally, you must be prepared to let your foster kittens go.  When kittens weigh 2 to 2.5 lbs they are ready to be spayed/neutered.  After surgery the kitten will have a few days to recover before being shown for adoption at our rescue facility.  It can be sad to say goodbye, but remember, you have given them a great start on life. Thanks to you, they will have a loving, permanent home with some very lucky adopters.  Fosters do not get priority on adoption, and adoption information remains confidential.  All kitten adoptions must be approved and completed by our Adoption Coordinator.

Fostering Options

A mom cat with kittens: This is actually one of the easiest fostering situations since mom does most of the work. You’ll need a room or large cage along with a nesting area-part of the cage, a closet, large dog carrier, or a box on its side with a blanket draped over the front. Mom will need a litterbox.
The mother cat will feed, clean, and socialize the kittens. You will feed mom, clean her litterbox and bedding, handle the kittens, and monitor everyone’s health.

Bottle feeders (or bottle babies): Fostering bottle babies is a serious commitment, as the little ones (1-3 weeks old)  may need feeding as often as every 2-3 hours. They also need help going to the bathroom (by wiping their little bums), and need kept warm constantly.  Bottle baby fostering may be best for people who work from home, have flexible schedules, stay at home, are retired, or are able to bring tiny kittens to work every day.  These are kittens under four weeks old who need to be bottle fed every 2-6 hours depending on how old they are. Since these kittens don’t have a mom, you will also have to help them go to the bathroom (until they are about 3-4 weeks old), keep them clean, wean them, and train them to use a litterbox (non-clumping only!).
You’ll need a warm, safe area in which to confine bottle babies, preferably a cage or large carrier. Some foster parents even convert an extra bathtub into a kitten area. Because warmth is so important, kittens should have access to a towel-covered heating pad, set on low. They must have enough space to be able to crawl off the heating pad if it gets too warm. If you are fostering a single kitten, provide a stuffed animal or something fuzzy for the kitten to cuddle.

Self-feeding kittens: Kittens 4-8 weeks old can already eat on their own and use the litterbox, but need TLC until they are old enough to be adopted. You’ll feed them often, clean them, play with them, monitor their health, and clean their litterbox. It is best to keep them in a confined area such as a small, kitten-proofed room, or a large cage.

Feral kittens: These are kittens, usually 4-8 weeks old, who have grown up with little or no human contact. In addition to the care described above, they also need more intensive socialization to help them become comfortable around people.

Feeding Schedule :

This is a general guideline. A kitten will eat more often or less often, depending on the kitten. The label on the container of kitten formula you purchased should indicate the recommended amount to feed a kitten according to body weight. If a kitten cries, she is either cold or hungry. A contented kitten sleeps quietly.
Kitten Pic
Age in Weeks/Feedings per day
1 week old – needs 6 feedings per day
2 weeks old – needs 6 feedings per day
3 weeks old – needs 4 feedings per day
4 weeks old – needs 3 feedings per day

Never overfeed a kitten Some kittens will eat and eat as long as food is offered to them. Follow the instructions and guidelines on the container of kitten formula. When the kitten is three to four weeks old, you can begin weaning the kitten with baby food (GERBER Chicken, Turkey or Beef) or canned kitten food mixed with KMR.

Setting Up
To kitten-proof a room, remove anything that might fall on a kitten – even a book can cause serious injury. Remember that kittens can climb into tiny holes and crevices and get stuck. Bathrooms seem to be especially easy to kitten-proof, and they are easy to clean.
Regular litterboxes are too big for young kittens. Start out with small Tupperware-type containers or shoebox lids. As the kittens grow, so can the litterbox.
Some foster parents get permission to bring very young bottle babies to work with them. Kittens sleep much of the time and can stay in a small carrier under your desk.

Health and Safety Basics
Monitoring your charges’ health is extremely important – sick kittens must be treated quickly. Keep tabs on the following:

Kittens should be alert and warm to the touch. Chilling is a risk mainly during the first four weeks of life. If the kittens are cold and listless, they must be warmed up immediately. Do not attempt to feed chilled kittens. Place the kittens in a box or pet carrier with a heating pad (placed in a pillowcase then wrapped in a towel) set on low inside the box. Be sure the heating pad covers only half of the bottom of the box–the kittens must be able to move off the heating pad if it becomes too warm.
If you notice fleas, you should flea comb the kitten as soon as possible. Only use flea medicine as directed and prescribed by HART. Kittens can also be bathed with warm water and a very gentle soap. Do not wet the head. Dry the kitten immediately with a towel until dry.
Diarrhea and upper respiratory infection (watery eyes, stuffy nose, sneezing – similar to a human cold) are serious and HART should be immediately notified by calling 707-616-6440.  Do not make your own veterinarian appointments, we will schedule all vet appointments.  If you take an animal to a vet without our explicit prior approval you will not be reimbursed. 
Keeping the kittens clean helps to maintain their health. Wash bedding and food and water dishes daily. After they eat or use the litterbox, clean dirty kittens with warm, damp towels and dry them well. Wash your hands before and after feeding and handling kittens.
Don’t wear shoes around the kittens, and be especially careful when walking around. They move quickly and it’s all too easy to step on them.
Never give cow’s milk to kittens. Since they cannot digest it properly, it can make them sick.
Don’t let bottle babies nurse on their siblings – this can cause serious injury.

Kitten Timeline
Newborn (or neonatal): Eyes are closed, ears are flat to the head, fur is thin and skin looks pink.
Ten days old: Eyes begin to open.
Three weeks old: Ears stand up, teeth are visible, and kittens begin to walk – wobbly at first!
Four weeks old: Kittens begin eating regular cat food and using the litterbox. They also begin to pounce and leap.
Eight weeks old: Healthy kittens will weigh approximately two pounds, and are ready for spay/neuter and adoption.

(Prepared by Leslie Wilson, she is a special projects consultant for several humane organizations in northern and southern California. http://www.maddiesfund.org/fostering-kittens.htm)

All bottle baby and kitten foster homes should also download and read this guide: ASPCA Kitten Foster Care Guide

More INFO on NEWBORN Kittens Info for kitten fostering

Email us a copy at spayhumboldt@aol.com or bring to us in person.

We are  located at 8 West 6 th Street , Eureka, CA.

Contact:  707-616-6440

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FosterApplication