Kitten Fostering Supplies: do you have what you need?

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There are a number of basic kitten fostering supplies that you may find useful while opening your home to kittens and/or older cats. If you are fostering with a local shelter, they might provide some or all of these supplies. However, you may also prefer to have some extras on hand at home.

A lot of these items you may already have lying around your house, such as old towels, hot water bottles, or food bowls you can share or “donate” to your fosters. Let’s jump in and see what supplies might be useful in your fostering journey!

Large Crate

A large crate can be a very useful item when fostering kittens, particularly under socialized kittens.

A large crate can be useful particularly for housing kittens and cats that are very nervous or under socialized. Scared kittens won’t be able to hide behind furniture and ignore you. You’ll be able to provide a safe-feeling home for the kittens while slowly increasing your interactions with them until they love you and no longer need the crate.

Kitten-safe Shampoo

Shampoo is useful to have on hand for when a kitten gets a little too messy to just wipe down. Sometimes kittens get food matted in their feet or around their necks that just won’t wipe off with a damp cloth or rinse out with plain water. A very gentle kitten-safe shampoo helps you to quickly clean the kitten’s fur so they can get back to playing.

Hand Towels

Kittens are the perfect size to be wrapped up, dried off, or cuddled on top of a nice soft hand-sized towel.

Hand towels are fabulous for fostering kittens as they can help you burrito your kittens for socialization or for nail clipping.

Large towels

Large towels are great for fostering to make padded spaces for cats to rest, and to quickly clean up messes and spills. They are essential in your collection of kitten fostering supplies!

High quality kitten food

Matilde the kitten loves herself some nutritious, calorie-dense kitten food!

Quality kitten food is a must to provide the right nutrition for growing bodies.

Feeding bowls and mats

Any small, sturdy bowls or plates that you’re willing to share with your kittens can be used for feeding.

Food and water bowls that are accessible to small kittens will help keep your feeding area somewhat clean. Additionally, a feeding mat can assist with cleanup after messy kitten meals

Bottles

Bottles let you feed newborn kittens age-appropriate kitten formula.

High on the list of kitten fostering supplies are kitten bottles! Bottles are an important tool for those fostering bottle babies, or kittens without a mother who are too young to eat solid food.

Kitten Formula

Baby kittens need special formula, whether store-bought or homemade. Cow’s milk from the store alone does not provide what a growing kitten needs.

Kitten formula is essential for kittens that are too young to eat solid food, and don’t have a mother cat to nurse from. Even kittens who are eating solid food or do have a mama cat sometimes benefit from supplementing with formula if they are not thriving or gaining weight.

Feeding Syringes

Walter is enthusiastic about his gruel in his feeding syringe! Within a week he was eating wet food on his own, but this transitional tool helped him make the jump to solid food.

Feeding syringes are used in a similar way to bottles. They can be used to help supplement a tiny kitten who is struggling with a bottle. You can mix a medication dose in a small amount of food, water, or formula and administer it with a feeding syringe to ensure that the medication gets ingested. And when you are transitioning kittens from formula to wet food, a syringe can sometimes help them get the hang of eating “gruel”, or formula mixed with wet food, as a stepping stone to independent eating.

Small Paper Plates

A fluffy orange and white kitten wears a paper plate as a collar after being spayed, demonstrating how paper plates can be a useful item on a list of kitten fostering supplies.
Marsha the kitten is wearing a small paper-plate cone to remind her not to lick her surgery incision. The plate cone is easy to remove and replace if it gets dirty.

Small paper plates make great disposable cones for kittens with a minor injury or who have just been spayed or neutered. Simply cut out the middle of the plate, and staple it to the right size. If it gets messy or soggy with food or water, just take it off and make another one. So easy! However, if DIY isn’t your thing, there are reusable options such as this plastic cone.

Cat Bed

Two orange kittens lie in a cozy and washable cat bed, which is an important item in your list of kitten fostering supplies.
These twin kittens are getting snuggly and making biscuits in their cat bed. A soft bed is a wonderful addition to your kitten fostering supplies!

A cozy place for a foster kitten to rest and snuggle is a must. An easily washable cat bed is a great addition to your fostering supply kit. One that is plush and soft will even encourage your fosters to knead and purr!

Kitten-safe Litter

A dirty brown tabby kitten sits on a box of cat litter.
In addition to desperately needing a bath, our foster kitten Birch needs litter that is safe for kittens in case of ingestion!

Kitten-safe litter is important for young kittens. Clumping litter is very dangerous for cats who might eat it, like young kittens exploring their environment. If it clumps inside their delicate bodies, it can cause serious health problems or death. Avoid this by using a no clumping clay or pellet litter

Small Litter Boxes

A young black kitten with subtle stripes leans forward, attention intent upon something outside of the frame.
Elmer the kitten is small enough that climbing in and out of adult-sized litter boxes might be too hard! But he easily uses smaller boxes.

Litter boxes that are accessible to kittens are important. Most boxes are too tall for small kittens to enter, and the disposable nature of these “litter pans” makes it easy to grab a fresh one periodically or between litters of foster kittens. Small, reusable plastic litter boxes are also available and great options for once your fosters are a 4-6 weeks old and able to navigate in and out of the bigger (but still small!) box.

Kitten Toys

A kitten lies on his back on a bright windowsill next to a tennis ball, which is a great kitten fostering supplies list item.
Henry loves being silly and chasing wand toys, balls, springs, toy mice, feathers, and every other kind of toy.

Wand toys are a fun, interactive way to exercise cats and kittens and provide entertainment and stimulations. You’ll make plenty of fond memories playing with your fosters with these long-lasting toys. Balls or spring toys are great for independent play, or for kittens to play with with each other!

Gloves

A foster care giver wearing gloves is spoon-feeding a young black kitten.

Disposable gloves can be a useful tool when cleaning up messes so you don’t have to wash your hands quite so many times (especially in dry winter weather – dry hands are the worst!). Gloves can also be useful to transition between handling sick foster kittens and healthy animals.

Heating Disc

A very young sick orange kitten is held wrapped in a towel to keep warm.
Young kittens are not able to regulate their own temperature, and a heating disc or a warm rice sock can provide essential warmth to keep them healthy.

A heating disc is an essential tool for keeping tiny orphaned bottle babies at the correct temperature. A warm rice sock or a hot water bottle are also great for this purpose.

Three brown tabby kittens with striking yellow eyes sit together in a cat carrier with their heads all tilted slightly to the same side.

Your shelter will likely supply you with cat carriers as needed, but it can be very useful to have your own to use with your foster kittens.

Cat Nail Clippers

An orange kitten sits with his paws on yellow cat clippers, which are in important tool in your collection of kitten fostering supplies.

Cat clippers are what you’ll need to keep your foster kitten’s nails trimmed. Kittens have unbelievably sharp nails, and the more often you clip them, the more used to it they will be. Soon you’ll be able to clip them all in just a minute or two, and comfort with nail trims is a skill your foster kittens will carry with them throughout their life.

For more about how to get started fostering cats and kittens in your local community, check out our ebook!

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