So, you’re looking for a way to fill your time now that you’re stuck within the four walls of your home constantly. If you have the space, and the time, I have a recommendation: foster an animal. Personally, I started fostering kittens for an organization called Calling All Cats Rescue. If you’re looking to follow in the same path, I hope the advice I have to offer will be helpful.
First of all, be realistic about what it means to care for a kitten. Yes! They’re cute! Of course, they are. They’re also a lot of work. Your job as their caretaker will not only be to pet their ears and cuddle them, though that is an important part of socializing them. If you are not ready to be giving them medication, monitoring them, cleaning up after them, scheduling multiple appointments for them, and making sure they have the food, litter along with any other supplies they may need, fostering isn’t for you.
If you are ready for all of those things, congrats! You’re ready to be a foster parent. You should be prepared for several things. The younger the kitten, the more attention and maintenance they require. Most of the time, smaller kittens are in foster care because they have no mom. That means people must bottle feed them, sometimes as frequently as every two hours, even through the night. You need to be willing to sacrifice sleep if you are set on fostering a baby.
Older kittens, about five to six weeks old, are usually eating solid dry and wet food, though sometimes kittens as old as seven to eight weeks still need to be supplemented with bottle feeding. At eight weeks, kittens should be eating solid food without issue, so if you’re nervous, that’s a good age to take in a foster.
That’s not to say that when kittens reach eight weeks, they’re all fine and dandy. Kittens are extremely vulnerable to respiratory infections, worms, and other health complications, especially if they came from the outdoors. Most kittens, in fact animals in general, do not like to take medicine, in my experience. If you have a problem pinning them down sometimes and force-feeding them, albeit as gently as you can, you can’t take care of kittens. They’re squirmy and often sick, so you have to be ready.
Putting aside the more serious aspects of caretaking, kittens require lots of playtime when they’re old enough to be moving around a lot. And they’re super fun to play with! But be aware that every cat has a distinct personality. Some of them are cuddlers, and they learn quickly that people mean pets. Other kittens never become big cuddlers. They like their solitude, and they come to you when they want. Some like being picked up, some sit in your lap, some nip at fingers, some prefer napping to jumping, and the list goes on.
Case in point, no two kittens are the same. You can’t force them to be. Not to worry, however, the fact that every kitten is different makes it that much more exciting to take care of them and learn their personality.
Lastly, and most emotionally important—If you’re trying to foster, be ready to have your heart broken. Even when you only have a cat for a month or so, maybe even less (one pair of kittens I only had for a weekend,) you love them very quickly. Once you start fostering, it’s not hard to understand why people might fail to give up a kitten. You will miss them when they get adopted.
Just try to remember that you have given that kitten a wonderful home, and an even more amazing beginning to their life, full of lots of play time and belly rubs. Best of luck to you!