Fostering a furry friend: the need to know

September 27, 2017

Why should you foster?

With kitten season fast approaching, RSPCA South Australia are on the lookout for families to join our foster care program and give our furry friends a helping hand. From November to March every year, we receive an influx of kittens who need a roof over their heads, food in their bellies and a warm place to sleep – at least until they’re big enough to find their forever home.

Fostering is a great way to take small steps that leave lasting prints in these kittens’ lives. While nurturing them from a young age, you’ll discover the wonderful feeling that is caring for an animal. From feeding and toilet training, to socialising and helping them develop their unique personalities, it is a slideshow of memories that all our foster families share along their journey.

We had a chat to Emma Stokes who began fostering for the RSPCA in late 2016 and has since cared for several animals who are now healthy and happy in a new home.

“Our first foster Kitten was Buddy who we took home in November 2016 during kitten season. He was around six weeks old and we cared for him for six weeks,” said Ms Stokes.

“There was always the thought that I might be a “foster fail” – someone who ends up adopting their foster animal – and I was a bit nervous about that as I already had a cat, Banjo, a dog, Monte and two kids.

“Lucky for me, it was a wonderful experience with a happy ending as my sister in law was the one who adopted Buddy, which made it easier to let go, knowing he’d be going to a good home.”

The practicalities of fostering

For Emma, the experience in helping foster animals to find a home is both rewarding and at times, a little challenging.

While it can be an incredible experience to bond with an animal and watch it grow, it is important to consider the practicalities behind fostering. This includes preparing for basic needs with kitty litter, a place to sleep, food, and the safety and security of where the kitten will reside.

It also involves time and patience while you train the kitten with toileting, feeding and general behavior. If you have other pets, you will need to prepare for introductions, which can be tricky at the best of times.

“Banjo took a little while to come around when first meeting Buddy but eventually she warmed to the idea of another cat being in the house,” said Ms Stokes.

“It was probably a bit harder for her when I adopted Harry and Hermione back in April this year. The brother and sister were six weeks old and I think the duo was a bit overwhelming for Banjo initially.

“Banjo came around in the end but it’s definitely something to consider when fostering so that you’re prepared and can monitor the behaviour of your own pets as well as the foster kittens.”

The RSPCA will do everything they can to ensure that your foster care experience is as comfortable as possible. Supplies such as food and kitty litter will be provided throughout the period of foster care.

When the kittens are ready for desexing they’ll be booked in and dropped off at your local shelter. This is usually around the ten week mark but can differ depending on the weight and behaviour of the kitten. After they’re desexed, they are ready to find their forever home!

The experience of fostering

“When the kittens leave the house they’re trained and socialised. It’s a joy to be in their lives when they’re little and my kids absolutely love it,” said Ms Stokes.  

“I think it’s a really beautiful experience for them — my kids get to play, cuddle and care for a small fragile creature and it’s such so much fun to have kittens in the house.”

Although it’s a rewarding experience for foster carers, it can be a little confusing. That’s why the RSPCA developed a foster care Facebook page: a supportive network to share experiences and have questions answered.

“I’ve loved foster caring as it’s such a rewarding experience… And there have been no foster fails on my behalf……. yet,” Ms Stokes said. “I strongly recommend fostering for kittens as it is an experience like no other!”

If you’d like to learn more, or register to foster a kitten, please read through the requirements on the Foster Care page. To apply for foster care, please complete the Foster Care online application form. For more information, you can contact the foster team at


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6 thoughts on “Fostering a furry friend: the need to know”

  1. Helen nichols

    I am a registered volunteer although not very active. I lost my darling Mitzy recently and would like to offer my home and love to a small dog on a temporary basis unti I am ready to get another dog full time and forever. Mitzy was 14 and had a wonderful life
    I can’t seem to find anything on the web site about dogs available for respite or fostering, a,though it may. E my inability to navigate the site. Could you please provide me with information. Thanks.

  2. Laura Hallett

    Hi I saw on the news this afternoon about the tiny kittens who were dumped at yr door this morning.
    I have recently applied to be a foster carer with sa dog rescue & am waiting for a small fury foster to become available.
    However at present I dont have a foster in my care so I would like to offer my services to care for a kitten for a month.
    please let me know if I can be of assistance as I would love to help.
    Thank you

  3. Katie

    Hi there
    I have thought about fostering but not kittens as you need to be able to devote so much time to them plus I rent so I don’t want them destroying the curtains etc! Can you foster adult cats? I couldn’t see anything about that in the fostering area of your website

    1. Hi Katie, you absolutely can foster adult cats and we tend to have a great need for foster carers who can offer some respite to older cats in our shelter who haven’t had much luck finding their forever homes 🙁 You can read about our foster care program here: However, please note that we have been inundated with applications for foster care (fabulous news!), and as a result have temporarily closed applications until further notice. Please keep checking back for any further updates or changes to the current situation. Thank you for your interest in helping us out and fostering.

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