Taking Care of Foster Kitties

Thank you for fostering with us! We have put together a few resources to provide guidance around kitten caring and to answer some common questions. The links on this document provide more in-depth information if you need it. If you have any follow-up questions, please reach out (please use the contact details included in the fostering agreement email).

Table of Contents

  • Safety

  • Setting up

  • Shopping List

  • Kitten Development & Weight

  • Food

  • Litter

  • Deworming

  • De-fleaing

  • Shy or Feral Cats

  • Illness

  • Diarrhoea & Runny Poo

  • Ringworm

  • Social Media to Follow


Safety

The safety of our cats always comes first, so it is very important to cat-proof the living space before the foster cat arrives. Aside from basic dangers, there are also plants and foods that are very common in houses but also toxic to cats. Here is some guidance around how to avoid anything that could be potentially harmful to your foster cat.


Windows

  • All windows in areas that the cat can reach should be closed

  • Cats can jump higher than you think, so be very careful with all windows

Balconies

  • Balconies should not be accessible to your cats, all foster cats need to remain indoors at all times

Chimneys

  • Cats can climb up chimneys, especially when they are still timid, scared and wanting to escape, so make sure that it is closed off to your foster cat comes into your home

Toxic plants

  • Lots of plants can be dangerous for cats, please check the full list to make sure that none of plants can be harmful, some common plants that are toxic to cats are: ferns, zebra plant, cheese plant, avocado, Jasmin but please check the full list for more details

  • Especially Lilies -- even just the pollen can be fatal for cats, so make sure that there is none in or around your house, it is not enough to put them up in a shelf, please rehome them before the cat gets to your home and clean around the area.

Toxic foods

  • Onions and garlic are poisonous and can lead to anaemia

  • Raw meat and eggs can cause salmonella and E. coli

  • Chocolate and caffeinated drinks cause severe symptoms

  • Milk and dairy products are very dangerous to cats, contrary to popular belief

Other toxic items

  • Essential oils are toxic to cats, so do not keep diffusers or oils anywhere they can reach or where they might fall down

Setting Up and Settling In

It is important to set up for your kitten/cat before he/she arrives so that there can be as little stressful movement once they are with you. All cats are different and can adjust at different speeds, but privacy, comfort, and safety are essential for any cat’s ability to adapt to a new setting.

When the kitty comes out of the carrier, he/she should always put on the litter tray so he/she can feel the litter under the paws and knows where it is.

Here is how you may want to introduce your cat to the new environment. If your foster cat seems comfortable skipping any of these steps, you can of course follow their pace.

  1. Create a base camp (a small area that your cat can claim as their own to feel safe)

  2. Examples: bathroom, spare bedroom, corner of a big room

  3. Place all necessities in this spot (food, water, litter, toys, bed, etc.)

  4. Make sure to provide a hiding spot and a high spot near the base camp

  5. Spend lots of time around the base camp, but don’t invade their private area

  6. Introduce sounds like speaking or TV noise to get them used to it

  7. Try getting them to wander out of the base camp on their own

  8. Begin spreading out necessities around the house to places that they may have explored before

  9. Eventually, they will begin feeling confident enough to explore on their own and get to know the whole living space!

Shopping List

Here is a checklist of what you may need to welcome your foster cat/kitten(s).


• Dry and wet food (water & food bowls)

° Get kitten food if you are getting a cat below 12 months of age

° Try to feed by hand or sit by them when eating to build trust with your foster kitties

° We do NOT recommend automatic feeders like these due to the results they can have on cats' (especially kittens) eating habits and health (stomach problems, obesity, etc.)

• Litter (litter box & scooper)

° Very important to get non-clumping litter for kittens

° You might also want to get some absorbent puppy pads or newspaper (to be friendlier to the planet) to place around the litter while kittens are still getting used to the litter box

• Toys, blankets, etc.

° Cats may have toys from their previous owners or fosterers which will help by having their scent with them which will help get used to their new home

° Consider not washing the old toys until the cat is more comfortable in the new setting, smells help them feel safe

• [Optional] Calming scent diffuser (feliway)

° Scents are very important for cats, so diffusers are great for calming your foster kitties

• [Optional] Water fountain

° If you feel like your foster kitty is not drinking enough water, please let us know, we might be able to provide a fountain to encourage him/her to hydrate more often and keep the water fresh. Irrespectively, please ensure that your foster cat has fresh water at all times.


If you buy things for your kitty or kitties, please consider using Amazon Smile or Give as You Live to help support us further through donations made to us every time you buy at no extra cost to you.


Development & Weight

The most important thing about kitten weight in their early days is that they are consistently gaining weight. They should be gaining around ½ ounce (10-15g) a day and 4 ounces (100-120g) a week. Weight loss can let us know that there is something going wrong, so it is very important to monitor this every couple of days until they are around 6 weeks old (you can use a kitchen scale). Here is some guidance around how much they should weigh at different stages of their development, as well as other important milestones (see the next heading for what food is best).

Other resources:


Food

The food that you feed developing kittens is very important as they need lots of protein to grow. This is also true for mother cats, if you have one as they are nursing the kittens. Here are our recommended brands and food tips for kittens and mums. Please check individual packaging for suggested feeding amounts.


Kitten milk replacer (only if mum cat is not with them)

Beaphar Lactol Kitten Milk Replacer Zooplus Link

Amazon Link

For mum and kittens once they are weaning

Royal Canin First Age Mother & Babycat Mousse Zooplus Link - pack of 12 Pets at Home Link - individual cans

Once kittens are a bit older, also for mum

Animonda Carny Kitten Food Zooplus Link - 12 pack of small cans Zooplus Link - 12 pack of big cans

Dry food to leave out along with wet food

Royal Canin First Age Mother & Babycat Dry Food Zooplus Link


Other notes:

  • Feed the mother cat kitten food, she needs the protein while she’s nursing.

  • Keep water and dry food out at all times, even if only the mother can eat it. If kittens are starting to eat but are not ready to eat dry food, you can leave the dry food where only cat mum can reach.

  • Even if kittens are still nursing, offer the mother kitten wet food.

  • Don’t leave out wet food unless you are there so they can associate you with the tasty stuff!

  • Start introducing kittens to wet food at around 4 weeks and be patient. They should start with a kitten mousse.

  • If one of the kittens is not eating the food but others are, you can touch the kitten's nose with a little bit of food so they can lick it off and maybe they will like it! Sometimes it takes a few days before they understand. Never pressure them, kittens need their own pace.


Litter

Litter training is one of the most important tasks for a foster carer as they should be trained to be able to get adopted. If the mother is with them, she will most likely do most of the training, but either way, they will need an extra hand. Here are some tips and brands of litter to use:


Deworming

Deworming cats is essential, especially when they are young and before they are adopted. Mother cats can also pass parasites or worms through their milk, so mums must also be dewormed. We use Panacur as our dewormer, but make sure that you only do these treatments with instructions & guidance from us. Deworming treatment is done at 2 weeks, 5 weeks, 8 weeks and 12 weeks of age. They should then be dewormed monthly until they are 6 months of age. It is also recommended that adult cats are given dewormer every 2 to 6 months.


De-Fleaing

To de-flea cats, we use the Frontline spray, which has its own instructions for certain ages of cats. The spray bottle can scare cats, so use latex gloves instead. Spray the Frontline, based on how much the cat needs, into the gloves and rub onto the cats (everywhere except nose, eyes, ears and mouth. Continue to check them for fleas and ticks even after doing the de-fleaing. For kittens, always spray 2-3 pumps maximum onto gloves first and rub onto the kitten (avoiding nose, eyes, ears and mouth).

Please note: The spray has alcohol, so it will evaporate quickly.


Spray duration:

  • Fleas every 40 days

  • Ticks every 2 weeks


Feral or Shy Mum & Kittens

Feral cats are difficult, especially if it is your first time interacting with them. It is important to recognise that they have probably mostly had negative interactions with people, so you really have to convince them that you are not a threat to them. The same goes for cats that are shy and just need a bit of encouragement. Here are some tips for both feral mums and kittens.


Feral mum:

  • Not guaranteed that they can be properly socialised, but you can do your best to get them to trust you

  • Generally try to keep a distance between you and the mum, especially when handling kittens

  • Try to separate a room or space for the cats to give her space to breastfeed, sleep, etc.

  • Make sure to only feed them wet food while you’re in the room, it will help with her understanding you as her food source

  • Spend time in the same environment while letting them have space so they get used to you being around them

Feral kittens:

Feral kittens can almost always be socialised, it just takes some hard work.

  • Try to handle and pet them daily (if they are past 2-3 weeks old), might be a good idea to wear gloves at first until they trust you more

  • Talk to them and get them used to your voice (you can leave the TV on as well)

  • If they are friendly enough, you can try feeding them with your hands, which will get them to see your hands more positively

  • Lightly try touching while they’re eating

  • Practice lifting them, start by gently lifting them off of the ground

  • Play with them using toys, not your hands, so they can understand that hands aren’t to be bit or scratched

Shy cats:

  • It is important to give cats a place to hide and feel safe, but make sure that it’s somewhere you can reach them, like a box, basket, etc. Close off all other hiding place like under the bed, under the closet, etc

  • Start them off with a small space and spend lots of time with them without trying to approach them, just to get them used to your presence

  • As they are more comfortable, you can move them to a bigger space and give them more places to explore

  • Use food as a motivator, let them come to you, and never push too hard.

  • If they seem overwhelmed, it is good to let them be alone for a while, it might encourage them to come to you instead



Illness

Kittens can get worse very quickly if they are sick, so it is very important to monitor them closely and let us know as soon as you notice anything out of the ordinary. Here is some guidance and information around cats and illness.


DiarrhOea & Runny Poo

Diarrhoea can be dangerous in kittens and it can have many different causes, so it is important that you contact someone from L.I.C.K. if a foster cat has diarrhoea. Here is some advice on what to do about cat diarrhoea.


Ringworm

Ringworm is a fungal infection that grows on cat’s fur, usually on kittens. It is very contagious, even to people, so it’s important to be very careful around ringworm. If you notice any of the symptoms below separate the kitten from the others and contact L.I.C.K. immediately. Please use gloves when handling the infected kitten.


Look out for:

  • circular areas of hair loss

  • broken and stubbly hair

  • scaling or crusty skin

  • alterations in hair or skin colour

  • inflamed areas of skin

  • excessive grooming and scratching

  • infected claws or nail beds

  • dandruff


Social Media To Follow