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Preparing to bring your foster cat or kittens home

Setting up your space to foster will look different for everyone depending on their home layout and available space. Whether in a studio apartment or in a large home fostering can be very practical. There are many ways to house a foster, but the general tips below can apply to all spaces.

Kittens, especially those that are younger, don’t need a lot of space. Some people choose to use their spare bathroom or maybe even use the shower if there is only one bathroom in the house. Of course, this is not ideal for the long run, but fostering is temporary and the kittens are only there until they are developed enough to be housed in a more ideal long-term space. If you want a mobile option, you can house kittens in mesh playpens that range from $40-$80 depending on size. These can be purchased on Amazon, Chewy or from a local pet store. They are ideal for undersocialized kittens and smaller kittens, but can be used for older kittens and even single adults. Remember, the space you have may not be suitable for an extended period of time, but as long as the cat has food, water, a litter box, a place to sleep, and a bit of room to move around, then they will be all set for the few weeks they are in your care.

This is a medium-sized mesh pen. Perfect to house small litters of kittens or a single adult. A litter box, food/water, and cozy places to sleep all fit nicely.

Things you will need:

  • Two bowls, food and water

  • Litter box

  • Scratching post

  • Places to sleep. Ideally, you want a couple of options: cat bed, blanket, covered bed

  • Place to climb (optional)

We provide litter, food, and a litter box if needed. We ask that you provide food and water bowls (you can use bowls from your kitchen), a scratching board, beds/blankets and if you would like a cat tree.

Things to think about:

  • Avoid piles of laundry on the ground (these can be mistaken for a place to go to the bathroom)

  • Make sure your plants are not toxic. Also, expect cats to chew on them and climb in dirt.

  • Litter boxes should be close to the hiding spot for cats who are nervous. They may not feel comfortable walking across the room to go to use the litter box.

  • Places to hide, but not too hidden (cardboard box on its side with a blanket inside, cave cat bed, open carrier with a blanket.)

  • Use materials that are easy to sanitize in between fosters (plastic cat condos, blankets that can be washed etc)

  • For scared cats create a couple of places to hide, but encourage them to come out a bit more every day


This last point is so important and if done correctly will save you lots of headaches and anxiety. That small space under your dresser, between your dishwasher and cabinet or behind the pipes in your ceiling will attract a cat/kitten who is scared and seeking a place to hide. Cats can squeeze into the smallest spaces! Make sure any holes, exits, and out-of-reach hiding spots are sealed off.

We recently rescued a very sweet but scared cat named Missy from Chicago Animal Care and Control. Poor kitty was terrified and undersocialized. Missy’s foster brought her home and placed her in the kitchen which was set up with safe places to hide, food, water, and a litter box. Missy instead chose the tiny space underneath the dishwasher that her foster had no idea was even there. Missy hid in this out-of-reach nook for a week, coming out only for food and water at night. Every time her foster tried getting up in the middle of the night to block off the space Missy would scoot back under the dishwasher. Luckily, we were able to lend her foster a humane trap that Missy walked into triggering the door to close behind her. We share this story as a reminder to cat-proof...always cat-proof.

Dipsy, Winky, and Poe enjoying a sunny day in their foster home.

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