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
Kitten Development & Weight
Shy or Feral Cats
Diarrhoea & Runny Poo
Social Media to Follow
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.
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 should not be accessible to your cats, all foster cats need to remain indoors at all times
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
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.
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.
Create a base camp (a small area that your cat can claim as their own to feel safe)
Examples: bathroom, spare bedroom, corner of a big room
Place all necessities in this spot (food, water, litter, toys, bed, etc.)
Make sure to provide a hiding spot and a high spot near the base camp
Spend lots of time around the base camp, but don’t invade their private area
Introduce sounds like speaking or TV noise to get them used to it
Try getting them to wander out of the base camp on their own
Begin spreading out necessities around the house to places that they may have explored before
Eventually, they will begin feeling confident enough to explore on their own and get to know the whole living space!
A happy cat is one that has a routine and that includes playtime! Cats naturally need to hunt, catch, kill, eat, sleep to be happy and a happy cat, means a happy human. Watch the video below about how to keep your cat mentally and physically stimulated.
If you are having trouble with nighttime activeness, please check these guidance from Jackson Galaxy.
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
• Calming scent diffuser (feliway)
° Scents are very important for cats, we highly recommend Feliway 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.
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).
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
For mum and kittens once they are weaning
Once kittens are a bit older, also for mum
Dry food to leave out along with wet food
Royal Canin First Age Mother & Babycat Dry Food Zooplus Link
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 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:
Make sure to use kitten safe litter (non-clumping), like these
Use a low entry litter box (cardboard is best at the start - like the ones to package canned cat food)
Video and other tips around litter training (please read and watch!)
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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
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 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