Many people are interested in fostering, but they may not have the time, space, or support to take that step right now. And that’s OK! If you would like to support fosters in your area, I will be sharing some items below that are always in need at shelters. It may also be a great experience to see what it takes to foster animals and if you are ready for the commitment. There are so many different rescue groups and organizations across the US and even globally that support foster homes, and most of them would appreciate a little extra help.
Many rescues and shelters support their foster homes, but they can’t always supply everything needed to foster animals. Usually, they provide food, veterinary care, litter, toys, and blankets or towels. Sometimes they have generous donors that provide other extra supplies such as heartbeat stuffed animals, heating discs, beds and blankets, and treats. Below are some items that I have used with my fosters that are either low-cost or can be found in a goodwill or trash pile in your home.
- Blankets, towels, or bedsheets
- Shoe boxes or Amazon boxes
- A heating pad or disc
- Heartbeat stuffed animals
- Wet and dry food & bowls
- Puppy pads
- Toys, beds, playpens, and cat trees.
Blankets, Towels, or Bedsheets
Do you have any of these items laying around, or have you seen them when you are at the grocery store? A foster home could use them! Blankets, towels, and bed sheets can be used to keep an animal cozy and warm, can provide a layer between carpet for easy cleaning, and can serve as placemats for messy kittens and puppies. I use large sheets to cover my playpens, pillowcases as food placemats, and blankets to keep them warm and cozy. If you have a set of old bedsheets you are looking to get rid of, donate them to a shelter or foster home!
Shoe Boxes or Amazon Boxes
Shoe boxes, or Amazon boxes that are approximately the size of a shoebox, are great to use as a disposable litter box. You already have them and can be thrown away once soiled! Kittens also loving playing in boxes, so why buy toys when you can go through your recycling bin? You can use large or small boxes and cut holes in them for a fun kitten activity.
A Heating Pad or Disc
A heating pad or disc is a great gift if you are looking to purchase an item for a shelter or a specific foster home. Pro tip: most foster and some smaller rescues have Amazon wish lists where you can purchase items they need. Heating pads are necessary for orphaned kittens and puppies and sometimes if a shelter does not have enough on hand, foster homes purchase them themselves. They are relatively inexpensive ($30-$50) and can save a life!
Heartbeat Stuffed Animals
Heartbeat stuffed animals may seem like an odd and new item for you, but they are an incredible comfort for orphaned or even weaning kittens! If a puppy or kitten is orphaned and/or loses its siblings, a heartbeat inside of a stuffed animal can be a great source of comfort to help them feel they are not alone. They can be priced up to $50, but are very much worth it. A heartbeat sound simulator can be purchased separately, or you can buy the stuffed animal with the heartbeat inside. If you are looking for a great holiday donation item, this is perfect!
Wet and Dry Food & Bowls
Food and water bowls, as well as wet and dry food for puppies and kittens, are always needed. Low serving dishes double as wet food bowls for weaning kittens! Any other food and water bowls can be used as well. If you are looking to purchase pet food, wet food specific to kittens is always a high need at shelters. Also, most shelters will take the open dog and cat dry food as long as it is in the original bag (it can be opened). If you have any leftover food from a previous pet or yours is picky, drop it off at a shelter to be used up!
Puppy pads are a necessity for foster homes as kittens and puppies can be the messiest little things. I use puppy pads near litter boxes for litter training and on their sleep playpen in case they have an accident at night.
Puppy foster uses puppy pads religiously to potty train them and keep their areas clean. Did you know that between foster animals, the foster parent has to sanitize and clean any area the animal came in contact with? Puppy pads make it way easier to clean the area if there was already something to protect the flooring.
Toys, Beds, Playpens, and Cat Trees
Lastly, shelters and foster homes can always use toys, beds, playpens, and cat trees. If you choose to donate toys, try and avoid fabric toys. Since we have to disinfect everything between animals, plastic toys are way easier on us. Most shelters will accept fabric toys as long as they have not been used. Cat trees or scratching towers can be accepted as used or new, we just take the extra step of sanitizing the used ones to protect our foster animals. New beds of all types can be accepted. You can find cheap ones at Costco and Target too! Playpens are also very useful for fosters if they need to keep the animal contained in a small area or take them on the go.
As you can see, there are many items you may have laying around the house or are easy to purchase that can be a great help to a foster home. If you are looking for somewhere to donate, use PetFinder to find rescue groups in your area. If you know an animal foster home personally, reach out and see if they are in need of any items. We are always very appreciative of anyone who supports what we do. Now it’s time to find those old towels and blankets you are looking to get rid of and donate them to an animal shelter!