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?