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Reasons to foster a cat

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 …

Scout the gray tabby cat playing with a pink feather toy

More information

Cat adoption/fostering in Fargo-Moorhead:


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?


Friday 13th of July 2012

was this cat ever at save our strays?PLEASE ANSWER:)

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 17th of July 2012



Wednesday 9th of March 2011

It just seemed an interesting development to me that here in both Auckland and Wellington (cities of respectively a million and around 400,000 people) a few colonies of cats have developed which do not have owners, but this is being respected by the authorities. This was a close run thing in Auckland, where there were complaints about cat droppings etc and alleged health concerns, and the local Council was going to catch and kill the cats in the colony. However various people who feed the cats protested and a compromise was reached, with a fence being erected by the Council to try and keep the cats away from the complainants. Go, people power!

All in all there seems a humane approach here to this natural development of cat colonies. The SPCA is working at getting volunteers to provide cat biscuits etc when food is more scarce (say winter).

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 9th of March 2011

I'm glad they reached some sort of compromise. I can see why the cats would be a nuisance.


Wednesday 9th of March 2011

Yeah - sad. For interest, I've checked out the situation here (New Zealand). There are feral cats in NZ, introduced from as long ago as the late 1700's by sailing boats, which took along cats to deal with rats on board. They are mainly nocturnal, live far away from human habitation and very few people ever see them, but apparently they cause havoc with the native birds. Because of this they are shot or live captured and then "humanely" euthanised, as the Conservation Department places great stress on protection of native birds (I've been to bird protection islands here where some native birds are extremely tame). What can I say? It is a sad situation for the feral cats, but there are competing interests here.

Separately from this there are stray cats, which don't have an owner, but live near food sources and human habitation. In my city, I don't think there are many of these, although it can be hard to tell because cats wander. There is apparently a colony of about 40 of these strays in one of the poorer suburbs here, and the SPCA has adopted the policy of capturing them, neutering them and re-releasing them. This is because they are near a food source, and if they are eg euthanised (apparently the adult strays are not really adoptable) then apparently other unneutered cats will just come in and replace them. So this seems a different approach, allowing the cats to remain in their cat colony but trying to control them. I don't know if this will work or not, but overall problems with stray cats do not seem too large or unmanageable in my city.

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 9th of March 2011

I'm not sure what the policy is in my city, but I do know of cats being caught, spayed/neutered and released. Others are put up for adoption. I assume the cats that seem friendlier and less shy of humans are the ones that are put up for adoption. The ones that appear to be feral are released.


Tuesday 8th of March 2011

Love your blog by the way (which I just found)!

I also love cats as much as dogs, although we don't have a cat at the moment (although our neighbour's cats frequently use our property to our bulldog's chagrin). I'm surprised at your very low figures for pick up of cats and wonder if the figures wouldn't be different where I live (New Zealand). Some people seem more cat people and some more dog people. From a quick look at our local version of ebay here, which is pet friendly, there are today 379 missing cats listed throughout the country (from a population of between 1 and 1.5 million cats) and 69 missing dogs listed throughout the country (out of total population of about half a million dogs) - which even given that figures may be currently skewed due to cats running away in an earthquake in one of our major cities (and the fact that cats are more likely to go missing than dogs because they roam), does indicate that there are a quite a lot of people concerned about their missing cats, perhaps very roughly proportionately the same percentages (compared to total populations) in each case.

Looking at our local version of ebay again, there are 1431 cats to sell or give away in the whole country, as against 686 dogs, which is roughly in line with total populations although there is some implication of a somewhat higher economic value on dogs (the most expensive dogs are generally 1.5 to 2 times the value of the most expensive cats for sale, and there appear to be proportionately more cats being given away than dogs).

Looking at the SPCA figures in our city there are 85 cats awaiting adoption and 63 dogs, which seems fortunately low in a city of around 400,000 population. I don't know the takeup of cats vs dogs, but would have thought it would be about the same here.

I can understand some bias in favour of dogs here given dogs greater dependence on humans. In the earthquake one city experienced recently, cats apparently tended to run away for a bit, but dogs tended to stay put.

One of the two cats I remember best when I was growing up (a burmese) seemed to consider himself more of a dog, and would come walking with us and the dogs off lead in the bush.

Still I'm nearly sure and glad to write that cats may be somewhat more treasured in NZ than where you are.

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 8th of March 2011

The United States has a lot of rural areas where cats are pretty much wild. And the cities have feral cats and stray cats. There are cats everywhere that are sometimes cared for by certain people, especially on farms, but these same people don't really claim ownership of the cats. And they don't spend any money on the cats, so they are not spayed or neutered. I think this is part of the reason why no one claims impounded cats - no one "owned" them to begin with.


Tuesday 8th of March 2011

We are in such a small place right now that I couldn't add another kitty to our three, but I would love to do fostering in the future! I'll be interested in hearing how your experience goes. I'm afraid our boys wouldn't be too happy with us for adding a new kitty either. They're all "elderly" now, so they're pretty set in their ways!

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 8th of March 2011

Yeah, it will be interesting to see how Scout reacts. Beamer and Ace won't care either way.