Where do I find kittens to foster?
Whether you live in rural Nebraska or downtown Los Angeles, I promise you -- kittens need your help. Here's where you can find them.
1. Foster for your local animal shelter
Kittens are a high-risk population in animal shelters due to the intensive resources required to save them. Many shelters are not prepared to provide care to orphans, and for this reason, they are often euthanized. In fact, in some communities, kittens account for more than 50% of total euthanasia in the shelter system.
But shelters aren't to blame. The truth is that shelters operate on a limited budget, with limited staff, and they rely heavily on the community to step up and lend a hand. That's why the #1 way to help kittens is to get active with your animal shelter.
Go to Google and type in your city or county + "animal shelter." If they have a website, look for a section about fostering or volunteering and follow their instructions for getting involved. If the website doesn't mention fostering, give them a call and talk to someone on the phone about fostering kittens.
Some less populated areas may not have a very visible animal shelter, or may just have one animal control officer and a small impoundment facility. If your local shelter doesn't seem to have a website, call your local government and find out who provides animal control services for the county/city you live in. While they may not have a foster program, they may let you rescue animals and find them homes, or work with a local rescue group to save animals.
Search for both public and private shelters, and understand the difference.
A public shelter is run by the government, and is typically open-admission, meaning they have to take every animal brought to them. For this reason, they are often overburdened and can really use your help. Fostering for a public shelter means you will directly save the animals brought in by the public.
A private shelter is typically run by a nonprofit organization, and is often limited-admission, meaning they only take in the animals they can handle at a given time. This doesn't mean they don't need help...it actually means that they can help more if you volunteer with them as a foster parent. Fostering for a private shelter means you will expand their capacity to save animals from the community and/or the public animal shelter.
2. Foster for your local rescue group
Rescue organizations typically operate as a wide network of foster homes. While some rescue groups have a facility, many of them are run completely out of the homes of the individuals who volunteer for them. Rescue groups tend to rescue animals from either the animal shelter, the public, or both. Fostering for a local rescue group means you will enable them to save more lives, and one advantage is that most rescue groups will cover all of the veterinary care and perhaps even some of the supplies. Generally, all you need to offer is your time and your home.
Go to Google and type in your city or county + "animal rescue." You may find that there are several rescue groups in your community, so take a look at each of them and see which might be the best fit for you. Find their contact information and let them know you're interested in volunteering.
Go to Petfinder.com and search your zip code to find groups that are seeking homes for animals in your area. This is a great way to see who's already out there in the community, and to take a look at some of the animals who have already been saved. Reach out to the groups and tell them you'd like to help, too!
Consider looking up your local TNR groups, too. Groups that conduct Trap-Neuter-Return are regularly in need of help with orphans and feral kittens, and they'll be glad to hear from you.
3. Volunteer for a kitten nursery
While it isn't common, there are some cities that actually have a kitten nursery where you can volunteer. Cities like Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, San Diego, and New York are all home to wonderful organizations that operate on-site care to orphan kittens. Unfortunately, this is a less common volunteer opportunity, but if you do locate one in your city, give them a call!
Watch my fun lil video on kitten nurseries to learn more!