Category Archives: Volunteering

Kitten Fostering


About fostering

Since 2014, the pound has accepted a large number of kittens during the kitten season. The majority of these come in without their mother. Some are still in need of bottle feeding. Others are barely weaned. With over 800 passing through the gates, foster homes are the best chance for our kittens. Without our network of foster homes, a very high percentage of our kittens do not stand a chance: they are so vulnerable to infection that cat flu, typhus and other cat diseases pass rapidly between them. In 2014, treating thirty or forty kittens twice a day for cat flu, cleaning noses and helping to wean them took up the majority of our cattery staff’s time and cost many little lives.

In 2015, with a growing number of foster homes, we could limit infection and many lives were saved. Not only that, growing up in a home is vastly different than growing up in the refuge. Our kittens left our care healthy and well-socialised, with a great care package from the refuge for their future.

For this reason, kitten foster homes are in hot demand. With five hundred kittens expected in 2016, at least fifty foster homes are needed. The more we have, the better chance our kittens will have.

Being a fosterer for kittens is a very rewarding experience if you cannot have cats yourself or if you are not based in France full-time.

What does it involve?

It largely depends on how old the kittens are. For younger kittens, they have a longer stay. Kittens arriving aged 7 weeks have a brief stay of 8 days to ensure they are not carrying any diseases, and then they can be vaccinated, chipped and advertised for adoption. Ideally, it is best if they stay in foster care until they are 14 weeks after their second vaccinations, although many are adopted after their first vaccinations. For younger kittens, they cannot be vaccinated until they are at least eight weeks, so their stay is a little longer. From time to time, we have kittens younger than three weeks arrive at the pound. In such cases, it’s better if less experienced foster carers take over older kittens and allow more experienced foster carers to take over hand-feeding.

You will need a spare room which can be isolated from other animals. Although you may have cats or dogs, it’s important that they do not come in contact with kittens until at least the first vaccinations as the risk of infection is very high. This is also important since many kittens arrive with fleas, but cannot be given any flea treatment until they are 8 weeks old, so the risk of fleas passing between animals is high. A spare bathroom or bedroom is lovely. Kittens can get messy, so the easier it is to clean, the better. It will need to be kitten-proofed – kittens have a remarkable ability to get into very small spaces, dryers, behind cookers etc and you will need to make sure the kittens will be safe. The room will also need to be sanitised between kitten families, which makes a spare bathroom or utility room ideal.

Everything else will be provided for you by the refuge, from milk and kitten food to litter and worming treatments. Flea treatments, medicines and the likes will also be provided by the refuge. Bowls, toys, bedding and cat carriers are also provided. You’ll also be given lots of guidance and support including a training session by an experienced kitten fosterer. We do ask that you look after our little ones and take good care of them. That may involve giving eye drops or wormers. It also involves handling them, playing with them, cleaning them and photographing them. If it’s your first time, we can make sure you’re given kittens who are a little older and who are much more self-sufficient.

We do ask that you are within a short drive of the refuge, since all veterinary care must be undertaken either at the refuge or by one of our partner vets.

Once the kittens have been vaccinated, if they have not been adopted, it is much safer to return them to the refuge, where potential adopters can see the kittens that we have available. Foster care is not intended to be indefinite: we do not expect you to keep the kittens until they are adopted, or to advertise them or find homes yourself.

If you would like further information, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Emma at [email protected]


Every volunteer must fill in an information form, provide proof of civil liability insurance and sign a copy of these regulations to show that you understand them and agree with them. The refuge will also sign the regulations. We also ask that all volunteers are a member of the association that runs the refuge. For that, you’ll need to pay a membership fee each year of 20€. In order to volunteer with the animals, you need to make sure you keep this up to date. 

All minors must be accompanied by one of their parents who must also sign the regulations. Minors are not allowed to walk dogs. 

All new volunteers must attend an induction session in English or French and walk with an experienced volunteer for at least their first few visits. You must also agree to the following instructions.

  • As volunteers may be the victim of an accident, or may cause an accident involving another volunteer, insurance documents must be submitted at the beginning of each year as proof that you are personally covered by civil liability insurance for the year.
  • The signed copy of the refuge regulations along with your personal information sheet and a copy of your civil liability insurance will be kept in a file at the refuge. These are available to you and to any of the staff or those responsible for volunteers at the refuge.
  • Whatever tasks you undertake at the refuge, you must follow the direction and guidance that is on display around the refuge.
  • You do not have the right to give orders to members of staff, nor to criticise their requests either in front of them or in front of visitors.
  • Members of staff cannot give orders to volunteers. Only those responsible for the running of the refuge can do this (this may include senior members of staff, members of the steering committee, or the volunteer coordinator)
  • Each volunteer must respect other volunteers.
  • All suggestions about how to improve the running of the refuge or the conditions of the animals here are welcome
  • Any member of the steering committee has the right to ask a volunteer to stop what they are doing and forbid them from accessing the refuge site. The volunteer may ask to meet the steering committee, although in such matters, the opinion of the steering committee carries the most weight.
  • The animals of the refuge can carry illnesses and diseases. It is therefore advised that you change your clothes and disinfect your hands and the soles of your shoes before returning home or touching your own animals. It is also advised that you keep your own animals’ vaccinations up to date. You should also ensure you are up to date with your own tetanus vaccinations.
  • The majority of our dogs have often had a miserable or distressing past. As a consequence, we ask our volunteers to be conscious of this and to consider their actions before getting involved in our association.

You should:

  • always follow specific orders
  • respect the signs forbidding the taking out of certain dogs (for aggression or for health reasons)
  • never take any risk if you are faced with a dog who is growling or who is afraid in order that you avoid getting bitten
  • pick up information about unfamiliar dogs at reception
  • never throw treats or biscuits into the enclosures as this can cause fights
  • never give overweight dogs treats
  • never give treats to dogs who have specific health risks (marked on their enclosures)
  • ensure that you give treats to dogs in a way that is hygienic (do not drop treats on the floor) and avoids injury (be careful with dogs who do not have good food manners)
  • ensure you give treats in a way that is not likely to cause fights between dogs
  • socialise fearful dogs by sitting with them in their enclosures and familiarising them to your touch and to the lead
  • make sure the lead is always secure when you are walking your dog
  • never let dogs off outside the refuge: the parcs in the heart of the refuge are for this activity
  • keep to the edges of paths and corridors when passing other volunteers, dogs, walkers or people on bikes etc so that you do not run the risk of fights or of falling over
  • walk all of the dogs, even if it is inevitable that you will have favourites, you must treat them as equals
  • avoid taking out dogs that you are afraid of or who are too big for you
  • take dogs that you are sure you can control at all times on the walk
  • take dogs out as pairs, stay together and do not be afraid to take powerful dogs out with another couple, having one dog between two of you
  • do not underestimate how powerful a dog can be
  • make sure you close the gates to the enclosures securely
  • tell a member of staff if you notice any health problems such as blood, diarrhea or injury
  • never wear sandals or flip-flops
  • wear shoes that preferably have a rubber sole
  • make sure you put the pegs in the appropriate places
  • remember where you got the dog from and the name of the dog
  • read the guidance on the enclosure