Q & A With the MAC Foster Team

MAC Fosters are an integral part of our lifesaving work, and it's their commitment and support that helps us serve our community during times like kitten season.

Kitten season refers to the period of time where mother cats are often giving birth to litters - in our area, it is typically April through November. However, it’s not a hard and fast rule, as we have seen neonatal kittens come in December through March. In our area, we have good weather for a majority of the year, meaning that cats are reproducing constantly! We also have a lot of community cats in our area meaning there are many kittens being born outside.

MAC’s neonatal kitten fosters are lifesavers! Foster parents provide a temporary home while the animal is underage - helping raise them until they are approximately 8 weeks of age. These are the most critical weeks of life for kittens.

If fostering of any kind is something you would be interested in learning more about, the MAC Foster team has put together a comprehensive Q & A answering some of the most asked questions they receive about fostering neonates, and other animals here at MAC.

Q: Why do animals need foster care?

A: Animals need foster care for a variety of reasons! Some include:

  • When the shelter is full, foster care can help make sure we have the space for incoming stray animals to have a safe space.
  • Some animals don’t do well in a shelter environment because they are frightened or nervous and need some time to decompress.
  • Newborn animals that need to be bottle-fed require a foster home and would not survive without a foster.
  • Some animals need time to recover from an illness or injury before they become available for adoption.
  • Others simply benefit from being out of the shelter and getting some extra special care! Providing foster care for a few days, weeks, or months can be a lifesaving gift for an animal.

Q: Would I be a good pet foster parent?

A: If you’re looking for a way to help out animals - fostering is one of the most rewarding ways to do so!

  1. It’s a great way to enjoy the companionship of a pet without making a lifetime commitment. Fostering can be an excellent option for college students or military families.

  2. Looking to add a pet to your family but not sure that another pet will fit into your lifestyle? Try fostering!

  3. It can be more flexible than traditional volunteering - you don’t have to work around business hours, fostering when you get home from work or school is definitely possible!

Q: How much time will fostering take?

A: It depends on the specific needs of the foster animal! Neonatal kittens must be fed every few hours, moms & litters can be pretty hands-off, a nervous dog may need some scheduled time for handling - let the Foster Team know what kind of time you’re willing to commit to and they will match you!

Q: What skills are needed to be an animal foster parent?

A: It’s best to have some companion animal knowledge - whether you’ve been a pet parent before or been around pets. However, the Foster Team will provide a crash course on your foster pet and is available to answer any questions you may have. MAC always needs specialized fosters for neonates, shy cats, and nervous dogs - if you are able to seek additional training to support those animals, it would be a great skill to have in your foster toolkit! Ask the Foster Team to recommend some resources!

Q: What about food and medical care for the animal?

A: MAC provides all preventative and curative care while the animals are in foster care. Medical needs or questions must go through the Foster Team.

Q: What about my own pets?

A: You’ll want to think about how your pets will adapt to having foster pets in the home. Some animals enjoy having a friend to play with while others have a harder time adjusting to a new animal in the home. You know your pet best! For the safety of your pets and the foster animal, it’s important to keep your pet up to date on vaccinations. We do ask that you keep your foster pet isolated for at least a week before introducing them to your resident pets.

Q: Will I have to find a home for the foster animal myself?

A: No, but you can definitely help us out! Once foster pets are available, they will be posted on MAC’s website under available pets. We also feature pets on our social media. You can help us by taking photos of your foster pet on walks or sleeping on the couch, grab a video of them doing something funny, write a cute adoption bio, etc!

Q: What about when it’s time to say good-bye to the fostered pet?

A: Goodbye is the goal with fostering! It’s never easy to say goodbye to a foster pet, but take comfort in knowing that your foster has found their fur-ever home!

Q: How do I give pet fostering a try?

A: If you’d like to be a foster, fill out our foster application & our Foster Team will be in touch!

Q: I can’t provide animal foster care, but are there other ways I can help?

A: Yes! If you can’t foster, please consider donating foster supplies, helping us recruit fosters by spreading the word, spaying and neutering your resident pets so there is less overcrowding in shelters, sharing our posts on social media, etc.

Q: What if I need to unexpectedly leave town while I have a foster in my home?

A: If you have to leave town, just let the Foster Team know so they can make arrangements at the center.

Q: How often does a foster animal need to be brought in for check-ups?

A: It depends on the foster animal! Kittens and puppies will need to be seen every two weeks for vaccinations while dogs and cats may not need to be seen for check-ups while in foster.

If you have any additional questions about becoming a MAC Foster, the foster team is also available and they can be reached during business hours at 423-305-7140 or by sending an email to fostercoor@mckameyanimalcenter.org.

We are always accepting applications for dedicated foster partners at MAC, so if this is an opportunity you are interested in, please feel free to visit the foster section on our website to apply today!