Can You Foster Kittens if You Have a Cat?

The short answer to this question is, yes! However, there are a lot of different factors at play that will help you determine if this is the right path for you.

Consider Your Cat’s Temperament

You know your cat best, so take some time to think about how they will react once you bring fosters into your home. For instance, how does your cat adapt to change? Do everyday changes like bringing in groceries, or long-term changes like adding new furniture stress your cat out? Or do they barely notice them? Having fosters in your home is going to be a huge change, and if your cat doesn’t handle change well, it might not be best for you or your fur baby.

Also think about how your cat responds to other animals and other people. Do you have other pets in the home? If so, how long did it take for your cat to adjust to having them around? Has your cat ever seen another cat pass by the window, or reacted to another cat during a vet visit? Cat-to-cat issues can be avoided with a proper quarantine period, but if your cat is not extremely reactive to other cats or animals you might be in the clear.

Having fosters around likely means that you’ll eventually be welcoming unfamiliar people into your home to get the fosters adopted. Think about what your cat does when you have guests over or when someone simply knocks on your door. If all the ins and outs of adoption meetings are going to be too stressful for your cat, you can make a plan to set your cat up in their safe zone during those times and see if that helps.

This last question is probably the most important. Is your cat confident, or do they hide a lot? Simply having the scent of other cats in your home is going to throw any cat off, but a scared and stressed cat means more work and stress for you! Check out Jackson Galaxy’s video on the different cat personality types and see if you can help your cat become the best version of themselves before bringing fosters into your home.

Can You Keep Everyone Separated Without Creating Tension?

This part can be tricky, but when it’s done the right way, you’ll be on track to a relatively easy balancing act.

The first think you need to know is that you must keep any fosters away from your resident cat for a minimum of 2 weeks. This is called a quarantine period, and you can learn more about it in How to Quarantine Your Foster Kittens. Because of the quarantine period, it’s essential that you’re prepared to completely separate your groups for at least this long by doing the following:

  1. No physical contact between fosters and residents.
  2. Keep the fosters behind a closed door.
  3. Do no give fosters or residents visual access to one another. Being able to see each other can create excitement and/or anxiety.
  4. Do not share items between groups. Not only is it unsanitary and can spread bacteria and viruses, but doing this can also make your resident cat feel like the fosters are further invading their territory.
  5. Always wash your hands before and after interacting with the fosters! If you approach your resident cat covered in kitten germs and smells, it might stress them out or confuse them.
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– $6.00 allows us to buy a bag of litter
– $25 helps us buy 12 cans of cat food
– $100+ allows us to fund general medical procedures for any felines that we foster on our own

Thank you so much for considering a donation! 🙂

Any contribution is greatly appreciated!

– $6.00 allows us to buy a bag of litter
– $25 helps us buy 12 cans of cat food
– $100+ allows us to fund general medical procedures for any felines that we foster on our own

Thank you so much for considering a donation! 🙂

Any contribution is greatly appreciated!

– $6.00 allows us to buy a bag of litter
– $25 helps us buy 12 cans of cat food
– $100+ allows us to fund general medical procedures for any felines that we foster on our own

Thank you so much for considering a donation! 🙂

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Consider What Territory Your Cat is Losing

Territory is very important to cats, so easing your cat into the loss of part of their territory can be extremely helpful.

Think about blocking off the area that will serve as your foster room. Keep your resident cat out of this area for at least a few days before any fosters arrive in your home. This way, your cat will hopefully begin to get accustomed to that specific change.

Please also consider removing anything of importance to your cat out of the foster room. Things like extra litter boxes, scratchers, water dishes, and beds will not be received well behind a closed door.

As an example, I keep the guest bathroom and the office doors closed at all times. My resident cats, Minnie and Finch, do not have regular access to this area. This way, when they can sense that there are new foster kittens in our home, they sniff at the doors occasionally instead of trying to break in.

Balance Affection Between Groups

I think the hardest part for some foster homes with resident cats is finding a way to balance the amount of quality time spent between groups. When I fostered my first litter of kittens, I felt guilty whenever I spent time with the fosters because it meant I wasn’t spending time with Minnie. Whenever I spent time with Minnie during our typical daily flow, I felt bad that I wasn’t spending more time with the foster kittens!

You already know this, but your cat absolutely adores being around you. When you’re suddenly spending less time with them, it can cause stress and confusion. Worst-case scenario, this change can even cause challenging behaviors to occur in your cat.

Think about what your typical routine looks like with your resident kitty. Do you always feed them right when you come home? Do you play with them every morning and hold them before you start your workday? Whatever your routine is, avoid changing it at all. If you have to adjust it in order to be able to foster kittens, try adjusting the routine as little as possible.

If you’re someone that has the time and energy for leisure activities outside of your work, consider dedicating one of those activities to each group. In my case, when it’s time for me to write, I’ll cuddle with my resident pets on the couch and enjoy some playtime after. Before bed, when I enjoy reading, I let myself become covered in foster kittens (but I have to add that I don’t get a ton of reading done in those adorable moments).

Potential Drawbacks to be Prepared for

Once quarantine is over, Minnie usually graces the foster room with her presence only once. She likes to enter, hiss, and then never return. 🙂

If you’ve determined that you and your cat will be just fine going on a fostering journey together, be prepared to experience a few negative side effects…just in case.

Your cat may be fixated, no matter what, on the foster room door. The obsession may manifest in scratching, pawing, sniffing, pacing, or even vocalizing at the door. If ignored, these behaviors will very likely go away after a while, but be prepared for them nonetheless.

On the other hand, your cat may want to avoid the foster room door at all costs. They may also be more inclined to hide when they hear unfamiliar sounds, as stress levels are a bit higher when you have fosters around.

Don’t be shocked if your cat hisses and shows territorial behavior when new fosters arrive. For example, Minnie always hisses at the foster door the first few times that she passes by when we have a new group of kittens. Their new smells and sounds scare her and she’s warning them to stay away! An example of territorial behavior that I experienced was when Minnie eliminated outside of one of her litter boxes a couple of times. She did this during the first week that my first litter of foster kittens was in our home. To be fair…she could have just been mad at me rather than simply expanding her litter box territory. 🙂

Quarantine is Over: What Now?

Congrats on making it through the 2 week quarantine period. If your foster kittens will still be with you for another week or so, then you have the option to introduce your fosters to your resident cats.

You can learn how to introduce cats to one another by watching Jackson Galaxy’s video below, and please stay tuned for an in-depth post on cat-to-cat introductions coming next month.

During any time spent near each other, don’t force the cats to interact. Don’t force them to share space, either. It’s likely that your foster kittens will be interested in checking out your cat, but your cat will let you know whether or not they’re interested in making new friends.

I wish you and your resident kitties the best of luck on your fostering journey! May it be full of joy and as little drama as possible. 🙂


Exploring animal welfare one foster kitten at a time

2 responses to “Can You Foster Kittens if You Have a Cat?”

  1. […] doing your research to answer some of the questions you might have about fostering, such as what to do if you already have cats at home and how to quarantine your […]

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  2. […] kittens when you already have pets of your own is a tremendous help to the animal welfare community. Introducing your healthy resident […]

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