ASAP Kittens and our Foster Program

What is Kitten Season?

Did you know that the feline reproductive cycle is influenced by two factors; warmer weather and the amount of daylight in a 24-hour period?  In our local temperate climate, we can experience warm periods of weather at any time during the year, so kittens are born throughout the year.  However, the greatest number of kittens are born during "kitten season", which begins in early spring and runs through late fall.  As the amount of daylight begins to increase at the winter solstice (December 21st), the reproductive cycle of intact females kicks into gear, and most will go into heat by January 15th.  The feline gestation period is about 60 days, so the first litters of the season start arriving about March 15th each year.  As the year progresses towards the vernal equinox (September 21st), the amount of daylight in a 24-hour period is decreasing, causing the feline reproductive cycle to wane.

ASAP's Foster Program

It is during kitten season, early spring through late fall, that ASAP has the greatest need for volunteers willing to open their hearts and homes and temporarily provide care and comfort to young orphaned kittens or stray queens and their litters.  Thanks to our many wonderful volunteers through the years, ASAP has operated a successful foster program since 1992.  Hundreds of kittens are fostered each year along with at least a dozen queens and their litters.

Fostering kittens can be a wonderful way to teach children how to handle animals and can also help a family decide whether they are ready to take on the commitment of adopting a pet.

The Different Foster Groups

  • The Newborn or Neonate Kitten: These orphan kittens can range in age from newborn to about four weeks old. The younger the kitten, the more frequent the feedings.  In general, kittens require feedings every four to six hours around the clock until about three weeks of age.  Three week old kittens can usually begin to go up to eight hours overnight without a feeding.  These kittens are fostered by volunteers with prior kitten fostering experience.
  • The Transitional Kitten: These orphan kittens or kittens who need to be separated from the queen for some reason, range in age from just over four weeks to about six weeks.  They are beginning to eat solid food but may still need to be supplemented with a bottle feeding a couple of times a day.
  • Weaned Kittens: These kittens range from five to over eight weeks old and are eating solid food.  This age group brings the most entertainment to the foster families with their high energy level and kitten antics.  Kittens remain in foster until they are ready for spay or neuter surgery at a minimum of 8 weeks and two pounds.
  • Kittens Needing Socialization: Some kittens will arrive at the shelter having had little contact with humans.  With proper care and handling, kittens younger than about 4 months can be successfully socialized.  Special training is offered to fosters interested in socializing these kittens.
  • Pregnant Queens or Queens with Litters: Sometimes a queen close to giving birth or a queen and her litter arrive at ASAP.  If your household situation can accommodate an adult foster, this is the easiest foster assignment.  The queen will take care of all of her kittens' needs until they are weaned; the foster just needs to take care of the queen.
  • Adult Cats: On occasion there is a need to place an adult cat into foster care.  Often these cats have experienced a traumatic event, such as a broken pelvis or leg after being hit by a car. During the convalescence, these cats will experience less stress in a home environment than in the shelter environment, facilitating their recovery.

Environment for Fostering

Foster kittens will need to have a space where they can be confined in a warm, safe environment away from resident pets.  Our foster families have housed kittens in small bathrooms, spare bedrooms, laundry rooms, or even in an enclosed area in a warm garage.  The amount of space needed for the kittens will vary depending on the number of kittens and their ages.

Are You Ready to Open Your Home and Heart?

There is always a need for new volunteers willing to help ASAP care for these small feline babies.  Some of our foster families take kittens or queens and their litters all year round; while other families take only a litter or two during kitten season.  Each and every foster family, even those who only foster one litter,  contribute to the success of ASAP's Foster Program, giving these young kittens the opportunity to experience their critical formative weeks of kittenhood in a home environment instead of being housed in a cage at the shelter.

If you are interested in becoming a foster, please click here for the Foster Parent Application.  You decide what type of foster group(s) would be best suited to you and your family.  You will be contacted by a member of the Kitten Foster Committee to arrange for training. ASAP can provide food, bedding, toys, and other necessary supplies. You provide a loving environment and devoted care for these homeless kittens until they are ready to return to the shelter to find a new forever home.  Fostering requires time, patience, energy, and commitment; but the rewards of caring for these young feline purrsonalities are immense.