How to Properly Execute a Foster Fail

How to Properly Execute a Foster Fail - picture of black and grey kitten with green eyes

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Earlier this month, my neighbors posted this picture on Facebook and asked for help. A tiny kitten had taken up residence under their shed, and they needed someone to take care of it.

Although we weren’t looking for a companion for Pablo the Freeloading Genius, I volunteered to take the cat off their hands until a suitable home could be found.

And just like that, our animal foster relationship began. Once my neighbor brought the tiny kitten down to our house, we quickly rounded up the supplies we needed. I fashioned a cat bed out of a tote from the garage and an old dog blanket, made a makeshift litter box, and set the cat up with some donated kitten food and water.

Once she was settled, I quickly put up an ad on Craigslist and our city Facebook page to see if I had any takers. “Free kitten,” I wrote. “Adorable. Probably 4 weeks old. Already going in the litter box. Smart. Hilarious. Did I mention adorable?” Within an hour, over twenty people had responded.

5 Steps to Properly Execute a Foster Fail

With so many responses, you would think I would be ecstatic. But there was a problem. I didn’t really feel comfortable handing this cat, whom my neighbor’s daughter had lovingly named Ariel, over to some random stranger. I did end up finding one person who I felt was worthy of all the kitten goodness and almost gave her away – almost. But I just couldn’t. Here’s how our foster relationship fell apart, in five steps:

Step 1: Fall in love with the animal you’re fostering.

I fall in love with all animals – big and small, hairy and smelly. It doesn’t matter. Still, there’s something precious about baby animals who can’t properly care for themselves. The first night we had our cat (now named Khloe), she fell asleep in my husband’s lap and purrrred her little heart out. Even though we found plenty of families who would take her, we fell in love with her and felt it was our responsibility to take care of her.

Step 2: Be suspicious of everyone’s motives.

Here’s another reason I am a foster failure – I just don’t trust people. When each person responded to my ad, I would ask if they planned to get her spayed and take her to the vet. A few said definitely, but others responded in ways that made me suspicious. And as we all know, some people think it’s cute to get pets and breed them for fun – or grow tired of them and take them to the pound. I hated the thought of her ending up in a shelter or unsafe environment.

Step 3: Make sure your kids are emotionally invested.

Here’s a big one. Since the cat was found under my daughter’s friend’s shed, she knew all about it. My kids are always asking for animals – guinea pigs, hamsters, fish, etc. – and a cat has always been at the top of the list. As soon as my kids found out about her, they were begging us to keep her.

Step 4: Start buying things.

DSCF4609A big sign that you’re subconsciously planning on keeping an animal is when you start buying it things. This bed is a good example. The second day we had her, I had the sudden urge to drive to PetSmart to see if I could find a bed for her “new home.” I wanted her to be comfortable and I didn’t think she liked laying around in a plastic crate.

About $12 later, this ugly clearance item was mine. But, at least she loves it.

Step 5: Get your spouse to bend to your will.

One of the biggest reasons we have never had a cat before is that I was slightly allergic in the past. Plus, we have a blind, deaf thirteen-year-old dog who isn’t always welcoming to other animals. However, Khloe didn’t make me sneeze much at all, and my dog loved her! With those issues squared away, we couldn’t think of any good reason not to keep her.

And to be honest, it didn’t take much to talk Greg into it, either. She was such a good cat from the beginning, and she basically won him over.

How Much Will Our Cat Cost?

Although we didn’t plan on getting a new cat, it shouldn’t change our budget much at all. I will need to spend around $200 next month to get her spayed and her shots up-to-date, and I anticipate spending around $20 per month on supplies. Add in another $150 for annual vet visits and we will probably call it good.

Since I love animals and gave a sweet kitty a happy home, I think the money be well worth it. And I’m going to try to enjoy it as much as I can, because next time I ask to foster an animal, I’m pretty sure the answer will be “no.”

Have you ever failed at fostering an animal? How much does your pet cost each year?

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  1. Ha ha ha… I’m glad I’m not the only sucker! I’m a real softy, especially when it comes to cats, so I can see why you fell in love with her.

    I would never offer to foster any kind of critter because I know, beyond any doubt, that I would never be able to let that critter go again. Maybe I’m just greedy. 🙂

    I hope you all share many happy years together.

  2. I was laughing at your fail…how nice. It was obvious though that it wa ps going to be a fail for you. It looked cute, and l don’t even like cats :-). I got an epileptic little dog at age 8 or so from the beagle rescue. He lived to be a deaf, and blind, tumor ridden old thing that lived to be 19. I miss him so. They become family. I’m glad you failed spectacularly at this.. :-). I hope she has many wonderful years with your family.

  3. That picture could have been taken in the backyard of or last house! We had like 3 or 4 kittens under there. Never did find out what happened to them 😐

  4. Yep, I’ve failed several times. Jim knows that if I call and say, “Don’t divorce me,” it means I’ve brought home an animal. He says I could remortgage the house, buy a new car, etc but I’d never say those words unless it was for a pet! The kid part is hard. I did bring home a couple of puppies I found in the road a few years ago. I though I made it clear we weren’t keeping them, but when I did get them adopted, it was bawl fest from my daughter. Very tough when the kiddos are attached. We have better ground rules for fosters now. Congrats on the new kitten. She seems like a sweetie.

  5. I am a cat lover. Whenever I find a stray, it’s like I want to take it home, but I already have three cats, which cost me much money as I have to buy soap, food, and a lot more. So, my answer has been always “no”. 🙁 But, I wish I could take them home.

  6. Oh Holly. At least it’s a cat! And it’s yours to keep forever. We foster parented 2 children for about a year and a half and everything about it was hard. From the coming to the leaving and everything in between (um, parental visitations = no fun). Mr. Crackin’ and I have made a lifelong pact to never put ourselves through that heartache again. But a cat? You got this! Happy Monday!

  7. Looks like a sweetie! Good thing you kept it because your daughters probably never would have stood for getting rid of it! I’ve never fostered a pet- but now I think I know why 🙂

  8. I dated a girl once that fostered cats and dogs. One time she had 5 kittens that were so small she had to fed them with a syringe. I fell in love with them instantly. I loved how playful they were and watching them run around the house. I probably would have ended up keeping one (or all) but we broke up shortly afterwards.

  9. I could also never foster since I’d want all of them. Our cat actually costs us a small fortune. After we had her maybe 2 months she started getting really sick- long story short we did every diagnosis except exploratory surgery to find out she had feline IBS which means $25 per kg bag cat food and regular exams (plus vet bill when she has flare ups). Getting this diagnosed cost us thousands but we took on the responsibility of having her so paid up….Though I’ve had many cats growing up- all outdoor and we never had a problem beyond basics like you listed. Super cute kitty 🙂

  10. My husband comes from a home that was always full of dogs and cats – but so far we are pet-less. We’re just not home enough where I feel like that’d be fair to an animal. However, whenever my parents bring up grandchildren, I like to offer the suggestion of grandpuppies instead. Good luck with the cat. I wouldn’t have been able to say no, either!

  11. Michael Tully says:

    We didn’t exactly fail at fostering, but we failed at being assertive, I’m sure. A few years ago, a cat moved onto our place and just decided she was going to live with us. She had been spayed and was reasonably well-behaved, so apparently had been a pet whose owner(s) had moved away and left her behind. So, as she saw it, she needed a place to stay, we had a place, and that was that.

    It soon became obvious that she wasn’t going away. She had adopted us, and what we thought about it didn’t matter at all! The hardest part of the early days of this adventure was persuading the cat that she wasn’t going to come into the house. After she accepted that fact, the cat and I got along fine. She feeds herself on mice and rabbits, so the only cost of maintaining this beast is for her shots and the occasional bag of cat food during wintertime.

  12. Aw, man! I would have the exact same problem. I mean, that kitten is adorable. My co-worker just went through a very similar experience with 2 kittens. The problem is, she already has 2 other cats! Fortunately, she was able to find a great home for one. But she couldn’t part with the other.

  13. This is why I don’t. lol! I love the idea but I would probably fall in love with an animal and right now that’s too much for me to take on. I’d have to foster a dog though, as Pepe wants to be a solo cat. He is indifferent to dogs though.

  14. This is very much why we don’t. 🙂 We had virtually the same thing happen with our current cat. He was about 6 weeks old and our neighbor asked if we’d take it off their hands as they had others they were trying to get into homes. I think I realized after about 3 seconds we wouldn’t be finding a new home for it. 🙂

  15. I’ve been following your kitten pictures on Facebook and they are just too cute! I would fail at fostering as well. Thankfully our old town didn’t allow for fostering or I probably would have had 100 dogs.

  16. Awww, what a cutie! I think I’d be a foster fail too if we ever had another little creature in our house. Not sure how Frugal Hound would do with a cat though… but glad to hear Pablo is taking it in stride :)!

  17. MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

    Not a foster fail, but….
    I had to take one child to a birthday party Saturday so hubby got to have some daddy/daughter time with our oldest. He had to run an errand to the Apple Store and they proceeded to tell him it was a 3 hour wait. So he got an appt and gave his number as a call back. He figured “let’s go see the animals at the pet store”. He neglected to notice the “Cat Adoption” sign. They walk in and my little punk rocker 7 yo finds “the coolest cat with one yellow eye and on blue eye” and will not leave the store without her.
    Then they sucker him by saying “ohhhh we can’t adopt that one without her friend. They are BONDED”. Hence Saturday he brought home Hiccup and Astrid (quick, name the movie)…they are freaking adorable!

  18. That was an epic foster fail indeed! 🙂

    I too had one of those experiences when my young daughters brought home a kitten that needed a home. The kitten’s fate was determined in only a matter of days. Ten years later Tiger has been a great cat!

    We struggle with finding pet sitters. What happens with the pets during your future travel plans?

  19. How could you not fall in love with her! She’s gorgeous!

  20. Kitties have a way of stealing your heart … you were right to be suspicious of some people in #2 … if something feels wrong, there’s a good chance you’re right!

  21. Oh dear, this is a cautionary tale to me. I have totally been considering fostering dogs in the future. But this will happen.

    I am a vegan for a reason – total bleeding heart where animals are concerned. I definitely question EVERYONE’S motives. No one can take care of an animal the way I can, amIright?

    The reason we have our og now is because he was a stray at my (then) future in-law’s. I told my then future husband that, if he loved me, he would take in that dog. He did, and I always tell people that’s why I married him. He had my dog.

    Unfortunately my husband is allergic to everything. Probably even to me. So after Biscuit is gone, God bless him, I thought we might just foster dogs. My youngest LOVES dogs and this would allow us to have them in our life, but to give hubs’ allergies a break at crucial points in the year. But nope. I would just end up with 50 dogs.

  22. This is why I can’t even let myself look at animals that need a home. I have so many allergies in my family that I would end up choosing a cute pet over a family member haha She is adorable though! Congrats on the addition to the family!

  23. I know that I could never foster an animal, especially a baby, unless I knew I was fostering to adopt because I just know that I would fall in love and that would be the end of it. The only thing that might change things is if the animal destroyed the house but my cat destroys our house now with all of his pet fur and I could never imagine not having him.

  24. Congratulations on your new baby! How cute! I love cats too because they’re so adorable…especially when they’re playing. Another perk is that they’re stress relievers. And I love the name Khloe. That’s very Kardashian. LOL.

  25. We had a kitten show up last summer in our backyard. A bit older but not much but it was a feral cat. It wouldn’t let us get anywhere near it and would hiss and attack. A day later Mamma showed up and led it away. I found out they were living under the front porch of a house down the street having taking over a rabbit hole. Those neighbors ended up having to trap them and take them to the Dumb Friends league to try and rehab them or offer them to someone with a barn to be farm cats. Too wild to love? So I am not sure I can count it as a Foster fail under the circumstances.

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