Cat Foster Program Outcomes: Behavior, Stress, and Cat–Human Interaction
Animal Health & Behavior, Distance Education, Unity College, New Gloucester, ME 04260, USA
Department of Animal & Rangeland Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Atsuko Saito
Received: 30 June 2022
Revised: 19 August 2022
Accepted: 22 August 2022
Published: 24 August 2022
Millions of cats end up in U.S. animal shelters every year. Cats living in shelters may face several stressors due to social isolation, lack of enrichment, and disturbances in their environment. Although fostering programs for dogs have been well-established in many areas, these programs are extremely rare for cats. The aim of this research was to empirically evaluate outcomes associated with placing shelter cats in a short-term foster environment, when compared with cats that remained in the shelter. Results indicate that cats placed in foster care were not at a disadvantage. Foster cats did not display decreased social behavior, increased fear or aggression, or increased cortisol levels while in the foster home. Therefore, even short-term cat fostering does not appear to be more stressful for cats than staying in the shelter. This work provides empirical evidence that cats can be placed into foster homes, even for short periods of time, when shelter space is limited.