Foster parent - cats, kittens, small animals and farm animals
Many of the animals that come into our SPCA Centres across the country need additional care, treatment and socialisation before finding their new forever home.
Our volunteer foster parents provide a temporary home for these animals and help them recover from surgery, give them medicine for an illness, or work with them to improve their behaviour.
We need foster parents to provide temporary homes for cats and kittens, rabbits and guinea pigs, and farm animals year-round, but our greatest need for cat fosterers is during the busy summer months.
Please help by applying below.
Why foster an animal?
- If you can only open your home on a temporary basis, fostering an animal is a great way to rescue an animal in need.
- Every animal that you foster is given a second chance at life – and the more you foster, the more lives you can help save.
- All SPCA foster parents receive training and ongoing support from our Centre Team.
- We supply all food, bedding, toys and everything else to make the animals comfortable while staying in your home.
What you need to help:
- Time – on average an animal will be staying with you between 3-6 weeks but this can differ depending on the animal you foster
- Spare room (required for cats but also useful for dogs) – a safe and secure space away from other animals which could be a spare room, bathroom or laundry.
- Written consent from your landlord – if you don’t own your home.
- Care – most animals will require medication throughout their stay (training on how to medicate an animal is provided)
- Transport – you will need your own transport 24/7 to bring foster animals to and from the centre or to an after-hours vet should your foster animal need emergency veterinary treatment in the middle of the night – some animals might need more than one visit (this is not required for large farm animals as we can help with transport to the foster home).
- Availability for vet appointments – you will need to be able to bring the foster animal to vet appointments on weekdays. The days will vary from centre to centre so check with your local foster team (this is not required for large farm animals as vet appointments take place at the foster home).
- Attend a foster information session at the centre before you start fostering.
- Your love and patience.
Special notes for dog, small animal and farm animal foster parents:
- Our dog foster parents should have experience handling and training dogs and ideally be at home for at least part of the day; this is because many of the dogs that are needing foster require socialisation and special training as many have never experienced a real home environment before.
- Our small animal foster parents will need to provide their own suitable accommodation for their foster animals, such as a large hutch, playpen or spare room. If they would like to let the foster animals outside, a fully fenced section is required. Ideally, fosterers have some experience with rabbits and guinea pigs but we will provide you with a full foster manual and ongoing assistance.
- Our farm animal foster parents should have experience with the type of farm animal they would like to foster. All farm foster animals will need socialisation but only some require you to be home during the day for tasks such as bottle feeding.
What does fostering involve?
Every animal has different needs, but a typical foster experience might include:
- Filling out our application form and a quick follow-up phone interview with our foster team.
- Property check by one of our centre team (dogs and large animals only).
- Attending an information session at our centre.
- Pick up your foster animal and required supplies. We’ll give you food, bedding, toys, medicine and anything else it needs – some animals may also need a follow-up vet appointment.
- For dog fosterers we also do a meet and greet with your resident dogs to ensure they are compatible with your potential foster dog.
- Give your foster animal your love, care and patience, and introduce them to a real home life experience, rules and boundaries.
- Complete daily monitoring records.
- Return the animal back to the SPCA Centre when they have recovered.
Which animals need foster care?
- Bottle-fed kittens or puppies.
- Mothers with a litter of kittens or puppies.
- Orphaned kittens or puppies who are able to feed themselves, but are not yet old enough to be desexed and adopted out.
- Sick or injured animals that are under the care of SPCA’s vets, but need the nurturing environment of a home.
- Teenage dogs that need training and to know what a home is.
- Animals with diseases contagious to other animals (e.g. ringworm or calici virus) who can’t be housed at the centre.
Can I foster if I have my own animals?
Yes, we welcome pet owners as foster volunteers. Please keep in mind there is always a health risk when exposing your pets to other animals, in any setting. So we ask that your own animals be fully vaccinated.
Can I foster if I have a full-time job?
It depends on the flexibility of your job and your schedule, and the animal you would like to foster. If you work full-time you could, for example look after a mother cat with a litter of kittens or, in some cases, an animal that needs medical rehabilitation. Most of our foster parents do work full-time, but are able to spend time with their foster animals before and after work. It is, however important that you are able to accommodate urgent vet visits in your schedule if a foster animal is seriously ill and needs to be seen by a vet right away.
How much time do I need to spend with my foster animals?
As much time as you possibly can. The more time you spend with your foster animals, the more you will help with their socialisation. You’ll also be able to spot signs that your animals are not feeling well, which in kittens and puppies this young could be critical. Besides, it’s a lot of fun to play with your animals!
How long do animals stay in foster care?
The typical foster stay is between two weeks to a couple of months, depending on the need of the individual animal.
What expenses are involved with foster care?
Foster families are provided with all the food, bedding, equipment (such as litter trays) and medical expenses are covered for the animals in their care.
If you have any questions, please call our team on 03 572 9156.
For: Foster parent - cats, kittens, small animals and farm animals at Renwick Centre
Thank you for your interest in fostering an animal from SPCA. Foster families are vital to the work of SPCA, and we simply couldn't help the huge number of animals we do without foster families, who provide love and care for animals in their own homes every year.
Please note: You will need to be 18 years or over to foster an animal. You may be need to provide an up-to-date Ministry of Justice check prior to starting.