How to Say Goodbye to Your Foster Kittens

Here are some tips and recommendations to guide you through how to say goodbye to your foster kittens when you send them off to their adoptive homes. 

The Point of Fostering

You decided to foster animals because you want to help animals who are in need of a transitional home. Of course, the main goal of fostering animals is to prepare them for their forever families and to prepare your home for the next group of fosters. It’s such an important part of the animal rescue cycle. 

We have to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge what the point of fostering is not. The point is not to keep every cat that comes into your home. It’s also not something to participate in if you’re wanting to shop around for your new best friend; there are specific foster-to-adopt programs for that. That being said, check out What You Need to Know About Foster Failing if you’re having a hard time deciding what to do about a specific cat or kitten. 

In the end, sometimes a foster animal ends up being the perfect family member for you, but in general you really do need to prepare yourself to say goodbye to your fosters when they’re ready to be adopted. 

Saying Goodbye is Hard

You form a bond with each cat and kitten that comes into your care. It would be unnatural if you didn’t make a connection. You put a lot of work into each kitty…medical attention, food, time, love, supplies, you name it. On top of that, you’re fostering because you care! It’s perfectly okay to have emotions attached to your fostering commitments. 

It’s common to feel things like:

  • Love
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Regret
  • Doubt
  • Attachment

It’s also common to become attached to the idea that the kittens need you. You start to wonder what they would ever do without you. The truth is, they do need you, but only for a short while. 

They needed you when they were small. They needed you when they were sick. They needed you when they were scared. They needed you when they needed time to put on a pound or two. 🙂 But now, they need a forever home.

You should be proud of yourself and of the kittens when they finally reach the point where they don’t need you anymore. As kitten fosters, we want the kitties in our care to reach the milestone where they finally only need one more thing from you – a ticket to their forever home. 

It will be difficult to say goodbye, but I promise that you can do this.  


Give to our current fosters:

Give to our current fosters:

Give to our current fosters:

Choose an amount


Or enter a custom amount


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! 🙂

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! 🙂

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

Create a Goodbye Tradition

Something that’s really helped me on my fostering journey is to have little rituals and traditions that I do once a kitten gets adopted. You can take pictures of the kitten or create a paw print keepsake. You can treat yourself to something special, like an adult beverage or a favorite meal. Sometimes even dedicating some extra special quality time to your resident pets can help you cope with the new quiet space in your home.

Cleaning is also a way to process the goodbyes. Cleaning and disinfecting the foster room has been a great way for me to provide some closure after the entire group of kittens has been adopted. Go through each room and item to prepare for the next group of fosters!

I’ll share my goodbye routine in case it helps anyone out there:

I take an instant film picture of each kitten on the day before their spay and neuter surgeries. If they’ve already been fixed, I will take the picture on the day that they’ve been medically and/or behaviorally cleared for adoption. On their actual adoption day, I write their foster name on their picture and display it in the foster room. 

I also create a paw print card to send home with each adopter, along with the kitten’s favorite toy. Going through the process of creating the card and putting together a very minimal adopter gift helps it sink in that I’m going to say goodbye to the kitten soon. 

Share Memories

You can also share and reflect on memories of the kittens with those around you to help you cope with saying goodbye. 

For example, you can share the amazing adoption story with friends and family members. Maybe you have an adopter who’s comfortable staying in touch with you, and you could send the kitty’s “baby pictures” to the adopter. Or, you can simply spend some time reflecting on how far the kitten has come to be ready for their forever home.

I’m sure some kitten fosters out there keep a foster journal to record memories in. This would be another great tool to use when your fosters get adopted. Spend a part of the adoption day writing about the memories you have of that kitten and about how much they’ve grown.

Stay in Touch with Adopters

This idea might feel weird to you, and at first I didn’t think I would do it either. However, I recently caved and reached out to previous adopters to see how each kitten was doing. It was just a simple email. 

The responses were amazing. 

I saw pictures and videos, learned the kitten’s new names, and read stories about their latest adventures. I even received amazingly kind words of thanks…which is something I did not expect. 

Hearing about how happy the cats are now and how much they’ve grown reaffirmed why I’m a kitten foster and was a huge motivator to continue. I recommend reaching out or sharing your contact information with adopters. Let them know how much it would mean to you to get an update every now and then.

Check out my Former Fosters page to see what my former foster kittens look like now that they’ve grown up! I wouldn’t have those pictures without staying in touch with their adopters. It was definitely worth putting myself out there. 🙂

Know that it Gets Easier Over Time

The hardest goodbye I ever had was with a fluffy, adorable, incredibly weird, female orange tabby named Robin. I personally knew the adopters that her siblings were going home with, so she was the first kitten I fostered that I needed to schedule meet-and-greets with strangers for. 

Four interested adopters later, Robin was finally adopted. I unashamedly cried in front of the adopters while we got her ready to leave the foster room. 

This was something I had to go through. I had to experience those emotions and learn how to cope. 

Nowadays, I shed a few tears once a kitten leaves the foster room for the last time and I close the door behind them. But it gets a little easier for me each time, and each goodbye is different. With the last group I fostered, I only shed tears of joy! 

You may also eventually get to the point where there’s no doubt that you’re ready to say goodbye to a foster kitten. When I think back to some of the kittens that have come into my home, there are a few that stick out in my memory as kittens who truly no longer needed me. These few had become so healthy and sociable that I couldn’t wait for them to find their forever homes, because I knew there were other kittens out there in need of some foster care TLC! 

I promise it gets easier and more joyful each time you say goodbye to a foster kitten, but it’s okay to let it be challenging. It’s okay to let yourself feel sad. 

Be Proud of Yourself

How many people do you know that would willingly sign up to put endless hours of time, love, and energy into creatures that are only in their lives for a moment? 

You’re doing an amazing thing by volunteering your time to care for a helpless animal and prepare them for their forever home. You are amazing. Be proud of yourself and remember that you can and will get through each goodbye that you say during your fostering journey.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through these links may help me earn a small commission.

Exploring animal welfare one foster kitten at a time

One response to “How to Say Goodbye to Your Foster Kittens”

  1. […] I wish you the best of luck on your fostering journey. May you have many happy farewells and perhaps a hello if it’s right for you! Check out helpful ways to cope with goodbyes in How to Say Goodbye to Your Foster Kittens. […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: