Should I Foster or Own a Cat?

You’re finally ready to add a new cat to your home. You have the space, time, and love to give to a furry feline.

Jun 17, 2023byKelley McFarland
foster or own cat

The animal shelter is overflowing with cats that need permanent homes, but you’re also curious about fostering. As a cat lover, there are options when deciding how and when to bring a cat into your home.

You may be asking yourself, should I foster or own a cat? Let’s dive into the nitty gritty and help you decide.

Temporary vs. Forever Home


The goal of fostering a cat is to give them a safe place to decompress and recover after being a stray or surrendered to a shelter before moving on to a “furever” home. You should enter the fostering lifestyle expecting your foster cat to move on to another fantastic family once ready.

Once you are established with a rescue organization, you can choose when you are available to take in a new foster. Your fostering services could be needed for a weekend or up to a couple months, depending on the situation. Older cats sometimes take longer to adopt, or you could be providing medical rehabilitation that would require a more extended stay in a foster home.

The great thing about fostering is that it’s not a permanent deal. You could easily try it out and discover your thoughts on the process first-hand. Some organizations require a one-year commitment to being in the foster rotation, so be aware of guidelines when selecting a group to work with.

Once a cat is adopted out of your care, you are in control of when you will be available for your subsequent placement. Are travel plans on the calendar, or is a busy season coming up at work? No problem. The organization you’re working with will be grateful for any amount of involvement you choose.

Fostering as a process is not intended to lead to adoption within the foster home. However, foster families often fall in love with a cat and adopt it out of the system.

Ways to Make a Difference

cat shelter

Any way you get a cat out of the shelter system and help ease the overpopulation problem is a great thing. Whether you adopt a cat on the spot during a Clear the Shelters week or provide space in your home for a cat before she moves on to a new home, you will feel good about giving your time and love to the care of a cat in need.

Saving a cat or two to own is enough to make your heart soar. Rescuing cats to permanently join your family is admirable and something you should feel good about.

Fostering allows you to continue to be a much-needed resource for many cats who need a steppingstone between rescue and permanent placement. You’ll be a source of security for multiple vulnerable cats who need a soft place to land. Fostering lessens the burden on overcrowded shelters.


cat cost

Cat lovers will tell you that owning a cat who will be there for all of life’s significant milestones and small daily tasks is priceless. That may be so, but there are tangible costs associated with cat ownership that you must be prepared to cover if you adopt a new pet into your home.

Shelter fees or breeder costs are just the beginning. You may need to cover spay or neuter procedures, vaccinations, flea and tick control medication when you first acquire your cat. And don’t forget the cat toys, towers, food and water bowls, and litter boxes. Once you’ve purchased those, you still need to buy food and litter each month on top of annual veterinary visits.

If you choose to foster a cat, the rescue organization will cover all expenses associated with pet care. They pay for vet care, food, litter, and any necessary supplies through donations. You get to love the cat currently in your care without incurring the costs of pet ownership.

Commitment Levels

cat green

When you adopt a cat, you commit to a lifetime of care and companionship. Maybe you can’t imagine loving a cat and sending her on to another home, and that’s ok. You and your will both benefit from the bond that you share.

Aside from the time commitment necessary for cat fostering, you can determine whether you can provide more extensive care to cats with medical challenges or those anxious felines who need more in-depth socialization or behavior training before being adopted.

You can choose to foster needy kittens, or healthy mature cats who just need a quiet place to relax before moving on.


The goal is to get the right cat in the right home. That home might be yours! Or you can be an integral part of the process as a foster instead. Give it some thought. If the result is a fluffy kitty purring on your lap at the end of a long day, you know you’re doing it right.

Kelley McFarland
byKelley McFarland

Kelley is a life-long animal lover who has experience caring for goats, alpacas, chickens, and dogs on a 3-acre hobby farm. Since moving to the Dallas suburbs, she enjoys exploring the neighborhood with Finn and Cody, her chocolate Labradoodle and spunky Boston Terrier Pug.