SPCA New Zealand

Volunteer positions

Foster parent
Motueka Centre

Foster parent

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, kittens and small animals year-round, but our greatest need for cat fosterers is during the busy summer months.

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 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) – 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 vet clinic 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.
  • 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
  • Attend a foster information session before you start fostering
  • Your love and patience

Special notes for small animal foster parents:

  • 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.

​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 team
  • Property check by one of our centre team
  • Attending an information session
  • 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
  • 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 SPCA when they have recovered

Foster FAQs

Which animals need foster care?

  • Bottle-fed kittens.
  • 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.
  • 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 (e.g. ringworm or calici virus) who can’t be housed at the vet 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 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 us on 03 547 7171 or email nelson.info@spca.nz.

Apply now
Hello! Choose your nearest SPCA Centre and see content specific to your location:
Hit enter to submit