SPCA New Zealand

Volunteer positions

Foster parent - cats and kittens
Timaru Centre

Foster parent - cats and kittens

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, work with them to improve their behaviour or simply nurture them whilst they grow big enough for adoption.

We need foster parents to provide temporary homes for cats year-round, but our greatest need for cat fosterers is during the busy summer months.

At present we are specifically looking for people to help socialise timid and semi-feral cats with humans, as well as bottle feeding neonates who require round the clock care. Please help by applying today.

Why foster an animal?

  • If you can only open your home on a temporary basis or aren’t yet ready to make a lifelong commitment to owning a pet, fostering an animal is a great way to help 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 foster department
  • We supply all food, bedding, toys and everything else to make the animals comfortable while staying in your home
  • Our on-site vet team perform health checks and provide medicine as required

What you need to help:

  • Time – on average an animal will be staying with you between 2-6 weeks, but this can differ depending on the type of animal you foster and each individual animal’s circumstances
  • Spare room or quiet area (required for cats) – a safe and secure space away from other animals which could be a spare room, bathroom or laundry
  • Care – many animals will require medication throughout their stay (training on how to medicate an animal is provided), and all will be to be monitored in terms of health and behaviour
  • 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 to the vet
  • Availability for vet appointments – you must be able to bring the foster animal to vet appointments on weekdays or Saturdays
  • Commitment to the programme – due to the investment we make in getting our fantastic foster parents on board, we ask that you commitment to the programme for a least 6 months. You do not need to have back-to-back animals during this time, but be open to taking multiple foster placements over the foreseeable future as your time allows
  • Your love and patience

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 to make sure fostering is right for you
  • Reading our foster information manuals, attending relevant training sessions and completing induction paperwork
  • Pick up your foster animal and required supplies. We’ll give you food, bedding, toys, medicine and anything else your foster needs.
  • 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 and stay in contact with the foster team
  • Return the animal back to the SPCA Centre when they have recovered or are scheduled for return
  • Wait to be contacted regarding the next suitable foster animal

Foster FAQs


    • Mothers with a litter of kittens
    • Orphaned kittens who are able to feed themselves, but are not yet old enough to be desexed and adopted out
    • Neonatal kittens who are reliant on bottle-feeding (training provided)
    • Sick or injured animals that are under the care of SPCA’s vets, but need the nurturing environment of a home
    • Animals with diseases contagious to other animals who can’t be housed at the centre
    • Animals who are timid or require behavioural rehabilitation


    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 and advise that they are kept completely separate from foster animals.


    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 an adult cat or healthy self-feeding kitten. 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.


    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 could be critical. Besides, it’s a lot of fun to play with foster animals!


    The typical foster stay is between two weeks to a couple of months, depending on the need of the individual animal. We can usually give you a good estimate of how long the animal will need in foster-care before you agree to take them on.


    All 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.

To apply or find out more, please contact our friendly foster team at timaru.info@spca.nz

Apply now
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