Foster a cat

Cats are valued less than dogs.

This is a growing concern and interest of mine.

Cats are less likely than dogs to receive routine vet checkups. They are less likely to receive vaccinations and less likely to be spayed or neutered.

Cats are less likely to eat a high-quality diet. They are less likely to wear ID tags, less likely to get microchipped.

Cats are more likely allowed to wander and therefore more likely to get lost or hit by cars. If they are impounded, their owners are less likely to look for them.

In 2010, 446 impounded cats were euthanized in my community of Fargo, N.D., West Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn., according to pound statistics reported by Adopt-A-Pet of Fargo-Moorhead.

Roughly the same number of dogs and cats entered our pounds in 2010 (about 1,000 each). But while 96 percent of the dogs made it out, only 56 percent of the cats were that lucky.

Why are more cats euthanized than dogs?

Bart the black and white cat up for adoption in Fargo Moorhead with Adopt A Pet

One of the reasons more cats are euthanized than dogs is because dog owners are more likely to look for their lost dogs and contact local pounds.

Some cat owners don’t bother because they think the cat will come back in a few days.

This concept is hard for me to grasp because I love and value my cats just as much as I love my dog.

Only 10 percent of impounded cats in Fargo-Moorhead are reclaimed by their owners, according to Heather Clyde, shelter manager of the F-M Humane Society. Nationally, that number is even lower, at just 2 to 3 percent.

How sad.

When a cat wanders away, most people believe the cat will eventually come back, Heather said. If the cat doesn’t return, it’s easy for the owner to just acquire a new cat.

Another issue is the enormous cat population locally and nationally, Heather said.

Heather said it’s especially difficult for adult cats to get adopted because the kittens always get adopted first. During “kitten season” which is generally April through October, the humane society adopts out two kittens for every one adult cat. When adoptions are slow, the shelter is unable to take more adult cats from local pounds due to space and the number of available foster homes. Foster homes provide an animal with a loving home until it gets adopted.

The F-M Humane Society has room for 17 cat kennels at its shelter, Heather said. It also has on average 20 to 25 cats and kittens living in foster homes.

“Finding foster homes for kittens is fairly easy,” she said. “But when it comes to finding foster homes for adults, it’s more difficult.”

Locally, Adopt-A-Pet and Natural Pet Center also rescue cats from the pounds.

I will be getting my first foster cat next week through Adopt-A-Pet. I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to save an animal directly from the pound. It is one of the best things a true animal lover can do. I can’t wait to share pictures and updates of the kitty I foster.

And in case you need more encouragement, here are some additional reasons to foster a cat:

Reasons to foster a cat

By becoming a foster home, you are providing that animal with a loving home until it gets adopted. Foster homes are always needed because shelter space is limited.

Shasta the black cat up for adoption in Fargo Moorhead at the F-M Humane Society

1. You provide much needed socialization for that cat.

A cat does not get the interaction she needs when she lives in a shelter. But a cat that goes to a foster home gets to experience people coming and going, other cats, dogs, children playing, the sound of the vacuum, loud music, etc. This is very important for helping a cat become more adoptable.

2. You learn more about the cat’s personality.

Once a cat goes into a foster home, the foster owner can report feedback to the shelter. Does the cat like to be held? Does she like to snuggle? Does she scratch a lot? Is she a loud cat? Does she get along with other pets? Does the cat hide a lot? Is the cat affectionate? Aggressive with kids? All of these traits will help the cat find the very best home.

3. You are saving the life of at least one cat.

Most rescues pull cats directly from the pound. If you choose to foster a cat, not only are you saving the life of that animal, but you may also be opening up a space at the shelter for a cat to take its place.

4. Fostering a cat is great socialization for your own animals.

I foster or pet sit dogs often. Dogs are always coming and going at our house. But we’ve never had another cat visit! Fostering a cat is going to be a great opportunity for my cats and my dog to learn how to be relaxed around new cats.

5. Cats are allowed in most apartments.

What I am really saying here is that anyone can foster a cat, regardless of “no pets allowed” rules. It’s easy to have a cat anywhere without the landlord even knowing. I’ve lived in three different apartments with my cat. One did not allow cats and the other two required all cats to be de-clawed (my cat is not). I never told any of the landlords I had a cat. The maintenance people who come and go from time to time could care less if someone has a cat.

6. You don’t have to foster a cat long term.

There is no long-term commitment when you foster cat. If you are fostering for a no-kill shelter or rescue and it just doesn’t work out, the cat will go back to the shelter or into a different foster home. You could foster for a few weeks or a few months or a few years. It’s up to you! You could be an emergency foster home on weekends. You could foster a mother cat and her kittens. You could pet sit for other foster owners as needed. The options go on and on. The point is, foster homes are always needed for any length of time you can provide.

7. Fostering a cat can teach your child a lesson about responsibility.

What greater lesson is there than to teach a kid about compassion for animals? You are teaching your child about responsibility and making a difference for an animal in need.

8. Most rescues will cover all the costs.

Most rescues will pay for everything the cat needs such as veterinary care, a cat carrier, food, bowls, etc. Locally, Adopt-A-Pet and the F-M Humane Society will cover all the costs for their foster homes.

9. Fostering a cat can help you decide if you want a cat.

If you haven’t owned a cat before, fostering is a great way to find out if cat ownership is right for you, your family and your current pets. Who knows, maybe you will adopt your foster cat! Woo hoo! Happy ending for all!

10. If you already have one cat, it’s not very much work to add a second cat.

You’re already scooping the litter box. You’re already feeding one cat. Two dogs can be a lot of work when you think about all the necessary exercise and training. But seriously, how hard is it to add one more cat? Enter, crazy cat lady …

More information

Cat adoption/fostering in Fargo-Moorhead:

Adopt-A-Pet

Natural Pet Center

F-M Humane Society

Affordable spaying and neutering:

Minn-Kota PAAWS

Affordable pet supplies:

Jazzy and Mumbo’s Thrift Store

Local pounds to contact if your cat is missing:

Fargo and Cass County: 701-232-7312

Moorhead and Clay County: 218-236-9059

West Fargo: 701-282-2898

Have you fostered a cat? What was your experience?

Scout the gray tabby cat playing with a pink feather toy