Become a fosterer and build a bridge from abandoned to adoptable
Every year many kittens are dumped or found abandoned and brought in by members of the public. Some of these are very tiny and need bottle feeding and others are just weak or undernourished and so our team of fosterers care for these babies at home until they are old enough and strong enough for adoption. We care for adult cats too while they recover from illness, injury or the consequences of neglect or maltreatment.
Les Amis also has a Lifetime Foster Programme for older cats or cats needing ongoing special care, under which vet fees are covered for the remainder of their lives in exchange for a permanent loving home.
All about fostering
What we look for in a fosterer
It is part of our process to work with would-be fosterers, do a home check (or in COVID times register online) and talk with them about where their strengths for fostering lie, their preferences and of course their availability.
Once you are accepted as a fosterer we shall do our best to match you with the cat or kittens that best meet your preferences During the fostering period itself, you will be in regular contact with key members of the Les Amis team so that you feel supported and they can help if any advice is needed.
Most kittens are born between the months of April and October, which is when we have the greatest need for kitten fosterers. Many of our kittens come to us from local refuges where we have contacts, and which are always bursting at the seams during the summer.
If the kittens are very small and not yet weaned then special care outside the refuge is a priority. They will need bottle-feeding every two to three hours, toileting, and extra warmth to compensate for not being able to snuggle up to mum.
Fostering such young kittens is demanding and time-consuming and not all of them survive, but if you have experience with tinies like these, it can be very rewarding.
Kittens who arrive able to eat solid food but are not yet eight weeks old may still be better off in foster care. They cannot receive their first vaccinations until around that age (depending also on their size and weight) and so are very vulnerable to infections which they may pick up in the close confines of the refuge. In foster they will also be handled and will interact with people which greatly increases their chances of adoption.
Sometimes a new mum and her litter are found abandoned. Wherever possible a foster home will be found for the family so that the mother cat can raise her babies in a calm stress-free environment.
Fostering adult cats
The cats we place in foster are usually sick, recovering from illness or injury, or not coping with refuge life. They stay in foster care with us until they are ready to be adopted. Adult cats which are found wandering or homeless may also be fostered while we try to find them a permanent home.
We are sometimes asked to take into foster cats whose owners have died or have gone into care. Often these cats are not sterilised, chipped or vaccinated so they will spend time in foster while this is sorted out. It also gives the fosterer a chance to understand the cat’s character and assess the type of home which would suit it best. Some of these cats are elderly themselves and need time to come to terms with their new circumstances. The alternative is the refuge, which is a very difficult environment for a cat which has spent all its life with a loving owner. Foster care here acts as a bridge between two homes and avoids the trauma of a refuge situation.
Fostering – the basic requirements
Most of our fosterers live in the south west of France. Generally, logistics means it is impractical to become a fosterer if you live further afield. However, it may be possible for long-term fostering.
The immediate requirement for cats and kittens in foster care is a warm, secure space away from other pets. This is both to provide peace and quiet and to prevent any possible hostile interaction between animals in residence and the guests. It is vital that foster cats of any age are kept securely indoors as if they escape outside they will have no knowledge of the area and may disappear. Cats in Long-term or Lifetime foster are a different matter entirely, of course, and we hope they will become part of your family. Kittens too may temporarily become part of the household as they grow older and where other pets are accepting of newcomers then adult cats too may be able to join the family while they are in foster.
We will always try to match a foster cat to your situation. If you have cats of your own we will never knowingly send you a cat with anything which might be contagious (coryza/cat ’flu for example) unless you have clearly stated that you have the facilities to manage such illnesses. In any case we must know that your own cats are fully vaccinated for their own protection.
Working with Les Amis des Animaux
The cat or kittens will be registered to Les Amis and we will work with fosterers to have them adopted as soon as they are ready for their forever homes. In the case of kittens this is not before they reach eight weeks and could be longer if they need more time to recover from a difficult start in life
While the cat or kittens are in foster with us, all veterinary bills will be paid by the association. Prior to fostering we will agree with you which vet you wish to use. If it is one of the practices with which we work then we know they will bill us at association rates. If it is a practice that is new to us, then ahead of any need, we will speak with the vet practice to ensure that they will invoice Les Amis directly and wherever possible give us the advantage of association rates. Obviously in an emergency you take the cat or kittens straight to the nearest vet and let us know what the problem is as soon as you can.
Note: Every cat adopted via Les Amis is vaccinated, chipped and sterilised if it is six months or older. In addition to the adoption contribution for a kitten, a deposit is required which is refunded when proof of sterilisation is provided.
Length of Stay
This varies according to the situation for you and the animal in question. For instance, if it has had an operation it will depend on the actual procedure as to when it could be found a new home. But it also depends on your circumstances and if you tell us that you can only foster for a specific period then this would be respected.
In all circumstances prior to fostering we will try give you an idea of the length of stay, but there will obviously be occasions where things do not go according to plan.
For instance, a suitable permanent home may come up sooner than expected, or the animal may take longer to heal or develop. Whatever the case, we will always keep you informed and offer assistance. We will never leave you with an animal when it is not convenient for you.
Finding a home
Rest assured we will be actively looking for a new home for your fostered animals. We will prepare a profile of the cat or kittens in your care, promote them through various social media, and vet all potential new homes. You can help us by giving us further information regarding the animal’s character as you get to know it.
Fostering to end of life
People can be reluctant to adopt an older cat as very often the only thing they can see are escalating vet’s bills. And yet these wise pensioners find it harder than many cats to settle into refuge life. They have often known love and care for many years.
They do not understand why they are out on their ear – they just know that they are. They are not used being confined to a cage; not used to having very few cuddles or attention. The result is that they start to deteriorate very quickly.
A long-term foster home can be a source of rejuvenation and the provider of all those things the older cat is missing.
We take care of the vet’s bills; the cat becomes an integral part of the fosterer’s family.
Things to consider before becoming a fosterer
However, before you foster, there are some points to consider because it can mean changes in your household routine. It also means more time and energy, and possibly an adjustment in your family’s life.
- Family Members: Make sure everyone agrees to fostering. Discuss the added responsibilities, the benefits and the drawbacks.
- Other Pets: We will have discussed with you the needs of your home pets and what impact a foster cat or kittens will have on them.
- Adoption: Will you be able to let the foster animal go when it is adopted? You become attached and letting go can be heart wrenching. Most of our fosterers find there are tears of sadness combined with tears of joy when a or cat or kitten they have brought to adoptability is finally leaving them. This is what it is about.
And yes, we do have a few fosterers who, contrary to their expectations, have decided to adopt the animal in their care!