TVAW is a small friendly group of people who are involved in the work because they love cats and want to help those cats and kittens which are less fortunate than their own pampered moggies! A lot of people tell us that they could not possibly foster because they would get too attached to the foster cat. Our answer to this is that firstly the cat is in a cat house outdoors and although well looked after it is separate from our own cats. Secondly there is no greater sense of satisfaction than seeing a sick, perhaps neglected cat coming into care and later waving off a happy healthy cat, on its way to its new home and a new life. Thirdly, we see a wonderful variety of cats and we all learn an enormous amount about feline health and behaviour.

If you are thinking about fostering you need to live in our area (Reading, Henley, Maidenhead and Wokingham plus surrounding areas), have an interest in cats, a little bit of spare time, a space in your garden for a cat house and run, a telephone and a car. We talk to all prospective fosterers on the phone first, to explain what is involved and then one or two members of the group will visit you at home to explain about fostering in more detail, answer any questions you may have and take a look at your garden to make sure that it is suitable for a cat house. These members report back to the management committee who will make a decision on whether or not to proceed.

It is expensive for the charity to establish a fosterhome so we have to make sure that everyone is happy to proceed but if this is the case TVAW provides a purpose-built cat house and run for the garden. The size will depend upon how much space you wish it to take up and how many cats you feel able to look after. Most people start with a small cat house, suitable for a single cat, perhaps about 4 feet square with a 4 feet run and a 2 feet safety corridor. Another can always be added at a later date.

You would be expected to have or to provide a suitable area of hard standing for the house and run - either concrete or paving slabs - and the cat house would have to be sited close enough to the house for you to run electricity out to it for light and heating in the winter.

Fosterers may claim an allowance towards the cost of food, litter and heating when required. This goes a long way towards covering the costs but you may find yourself subsidising the costs to a small extent. You may also find that your telephone bill may increase slightly but most of the calls will be local ones.

One of our cat houses, complete with resident cat.
We do not expect you to be there all day! Indeed, many of our fosterers work full time. However, only fosterers who do not work or who only work part time can have kittens to look after. You are expected to feed the foster cat twice a day and to clean the litter tray morning and evening. You will also be expected to supply liberal amounts of TLC! You will also have to take the cat to the vet if it should require any treatment and to have it neutered or spayed if necessary before rehoming. The cost of all veterinary treatment is met by the charity.
Most people who ask us to take their cat in for rehoming are prepared to bring the cat to the foster home at a convenient time but occasionally cats have to be collected, especially strays.

Everyone offering a home to a cat or kitten is vetted but the fosterer makes the final decision about whether their cat is suitable for the home which is being offered. Fosterers are very much involved in the homing process and are expected to follow up all homings to ensure that both the cat and the new owner are happy.

Details guidelines for fosterers are supplied but advice and backup is always available from other members of the group. It helps if you live in an area where there are other fosterers so that you can help each other occasionally. You should consider how often you go away on holiday. If you live near to another fosterer then you can usually cover for each other for a day or two but for longer periods the foster cat will have to be transferred to another fosterhome and it can be difficult to arrange this at short notice, particularly in the summer which is our busiest time.

If you would like to find out more about fostering please ring Yvonne on 01189 722082 or Ann on 01189 721871.