Preparing Your Home For Foster Kittens
Where to house your kittens
You must provide a clean, safe environment for your foster cats/kittens. C.A.R.E. recommends that you always start your kittens in a non-carpeted, easily sanitized room in the unlikely event that your kittens have a contagious illness that cannot be removed from carpeting. If you end up with a contagious illness in a carpeted room, you will either have to have the carpet professionally cleaned and sanitized, or wait 6 months – 1 year to use the room again, depending on the type of illness. The ideal space for a kitten is:
A) A spare bathroom
B) A small non-carpeted spare room (bedroom, office, etc.)
C) A kitten playpen, like this fabric one (get the x-large), or this plastic one. These are great alternatives if you don’t have a non-carpeted room, or your space has too many kitten hazards (see below). These can be sprayed with disinfectant and wiped down after each litter of kittens! Kittens really don’t need an entire room to thrive, just enough space to have a litter box, their food/water, and some room to play! While C.A.R.E. does provide all foster supplies, unfortunately we are unable to provide caregivers with playpens. You can find them very cheap on Amazon though if you would like to purchase one on your own!
Kitten-proofing the space
Kitten-proofing your home is much the same as child-proofing it! That means hiding or removing cords, removing small items that kittens can choke on, etc. If you choose to use a spare bathroom or bedroom, here are some crucial steps you need to take.
To begin, your foster room should ideally be COMPLETELY cleared out and only consist of basic cat necessities (i.e bed, food, water, litter box, and toys). Kittens love to play with anything they can get their paws on and could be injured by heavy or sharp items.
If you are using a bathroom:
- Remove all toiletries and decorative items from the bathtub, counters, or any other surface the kittens can access.
- If you have a shower curtain, wrap it up high on the shower curtain rod so the kittens can’t climb up it and injure themselves.
- Remember to keep the toilet lid closed at all times!
If you are using a spare room:
- Ideally the room will be empty (no furniture), but we realize this isn’t always possible. If furnished, be sure to “kitten-proof” any furniture they might be able to climb under, crawl on top of, etc. Kittens are like little Houdini’s and will get themselves into trouble, get stuck, or possibly even hurt themselves if given the chance. Stuff towels and blankets into open spaces under dressers, check to make sure there aren’t holes in the bottom of mattresses, close closet doors, etc.
- Consider protecting your furniture with sheets or plastic table covers. Kittens can be messy, especially when they’re learning to use the litter box! Make sure sheets/ covers are securely tacked down so kittens can’t get under them.
- Kittens might chew on electrical cords resulting in burns or even death. Protect your electrical cords with plastic tubing, or unplug and remove anything with a power cord, if possible.
- Kittens can choke on small items. Keep rubber bands, paper clips, needles, – anything kitty can swallow – out of reach.
- Keep plastic bags, which can cause suffocation, out of reach.
- Secure any heavy items that could fall and potentially injure them.
- Review the toxic houseplant list and remove all poisonous plants from your household or kitten area.
C.A.R.E. will provide you with a “Baby Bag” as part of your foster supplies. This bag contains an assortment of items including feeding syringes and medications. Make sure to put your Baby Bag in a separate room. Please do not leave it out for your foster kittens to get into as the items inside can be very dangerous to them.
How to set up your foster room
At bare minimum, kittens need the following essentials in their space:
- A low sided litter box
- Soft bedding
- Water bowl
- Dry food bowls
- Wet food bowls
Depending on the age of the kittens, they might also need a heat source, Snuggle Kitty, or other necessities as well.
Place the litter box in an easy to access area, no more than 10 feet from their bed/food/etc.
Don’t place their litter box too close to their food. We’re guessing that you wouldn’t like to eat your dinner next to the bathroom, and neither do kittens!
Can my foster kittens interact with my own pets?
For the health, happiness, and safety of all, we ask that your foster kittens (and mom cat if you have one) are kept in a separate location from your personal pets and have no interaction. Kittens have small, vulnerable bodies that are susceptible not only to injury, but also to illness due to their compromised immune systems — so you’ll want to keep them separate from your own animals even if they appear healthy, for the entire duration of your foster period. Moreover, kittens often have unknown health history and could put your cats at risk if they are exposed to saliva or feces. Keep your personal pets up-to-date on vaccines regardless, but please keep your litter separated from current household pets at all times.
It is also recommended to wash your hands between interacting with you foster kittens and your own pets, and vice versa. If you’ve been snuggling the kittens, you may also want to change your shirt, especially if you kittens are showing any signs of illness.
Can I let my kittens explore other areas of my home?
It’s recommended to keep your kittens confined to one area of your home for both health and safety reasons. If you do let your kittens explore other areas of your home, please follow the below guidelines and keep the following in mind:
- If you have animals of your own at home, do not let the kittens interact with them. This is with the health of your pets in mind (see “Can my foster kittens interact with my own pets?” above). Also keep in mind any room or space you let the kittens explore will expose that area to potential viruses or illness that your own pet can pick up. Ideally, if you would like your foster kittens to experience other areas of the home, only let them in non-carpeted areas and disinfect any surfaces they touch once they go back to their foster room.
- Do not let the kittens loose in your home, even if they are being watched. Kittens can get stuck behind furniture, dash out of doors, and might injure themselves if they are not in a kitten-proofed room.