Be a Foster Parent

Help to foster young puppies/kittens for a period of time until they can be vaccinated and placed for adoption. 

Be a Foster Parent

Just complete this form if you would like us to email these details to you.

Help to foster young puppies/kittens for a period of time until they can be vaccinated and placed for adoption. If you would be willing to do this, please let us have your email address and we’ll contact you when puppies/kittens need fostering. And do join us on Facebook (see link at bottom of page) – we post fostering requirements there.


Quite often SPCA Penang receives very young puppies and kittens that are considered “high risk” animals. They are categorized as such because they have very low immunity and are too young to withstand the effects of vaccination. A shelter is not the place to house such young animals and at SPCA Penang in line with our policies, such high risk category of animals would be humanly euthanized. However with your assistance, we could save the lives of these high risk animals and give them the hope of a good life ahead. Therefore the shelter needs your assistance to “puppysit” and “kittensit”.


You are eligible to be a foster parent if you meet the following criteria:

  • You love animals but are unable to make a lifelong commitment towards their care.
  • A compassionate nature
  • You are willing to keep yourself occupied while at home
  • You are working or studying full time from the home and don’t mind helping out.
  • Do you have the cooperation of your family or roommates, flexibility, and some knowledge of animal behavior.
  • You preferably have your own transport – or are able to get transport conveniently to the vet or to the shelter if need be.
  • All pets that you currently have at home are vaccinated, spayed or neutered
  • You are prepared to cope with the emotions involved upon the return of the pet to the shelter after the foster period.
  • You can trust the shelter staff to decide what is best for the animal


A. Preparing your pets

Shelter animals can end up in shelter in rescues from unknown origins, sometimes with underlying medical issues and conditions, so it is important that you protect your family pets as much as you can. Before bringing home your first foster animal, make sure your animals are up to date with their vaccinations.

B. Preparing your home

Cats and dogs are curious creatures. Many are capable of jumping onto high surfaces or squeezing into the smallest of spaces. To protect foster animals in a new environment and to safeguard your belongings, it is necessary to animal-proof your entire house. NEVER underestimate you foster animal’s abilities. Accidents happen!

1. Pet Proofing the Kitchens/Bathrooms/Utility Rooms

  • Use childproof latches to keep little paws from prying open cabinets.
  • Keep medications, cleaners, chemicals and laundry supplies on high shelves or in childproofed cabinets.
  • Keep trashcans covered or inside a latched cabinet.
  • Check for and block any small spaces, nooks or holes inside cabinet, furniture, floors, appliances, etc. where your foster pets may hide. Also make certain that spaces behind washer/dryer units are closed off so your foster animals can’t get in there either.
  • ALWAYS keep your dryer and washer units closed!!! Make sure your foster pets haven’t jumped into the dryer or washer before you turn it on! (This does happen.)
  • Keep all foods out of reach and/or in cabinets. Even if the food isn’t harmful to the cat, the wrapper could be.
  • KEEP TOILET LIDS CLOSED to prevent drowning. Curious puppies and kittens can easily fall in and drown.

2. Pet proofing the Living/Family Rooms

  • Place dangling wires from lamps, VCRs, TVs, stereos and phones out of reach. You can place the cords through PVC pipes to prevent the pets chewing on them.
  • Keep children’s toys away.
  • Put away knick-knacks that are valuable to you or understand that the foster pets can easily knock things over. If it is important to you, don’t leave it out.
  • Block any spaces where your vacuum can’t fit but a foster pet could.
  • Remove dangerous items like strings, pins, yarn, etc.
  • Move houseplants — many of which can be poisonous — out of reach. This includes hanging plants that can be jumped onto from other nearby surfaces.
  • Put away all sewing and craft supplies — especially thread and yarn. If ingested, these items can obstruct cat or puppies’ bowels, sometimes requiring extensive surgery to reverse.
  • Secure aquariums and cages that house small animals, such as hamsters or fish, to keep them safe from curious paws.

3. Watch Out For Dangerous/Difficult situations:
Bedrooms are not ideal situations for foster animals. If scared of the new environment, animals can hide under beds and are hard to coax out.
Be sure to be watchful for:

  • Closet and bedroom doors
  • Open doors to the outside
  • Open dryer doors
  • Open cabinet doors
  • Computer wires
  • Folding chairs
  • Potted plants (they may be toxic if ingested)

Whatever room you choose to make your foster animal’s new home, make sure that it is easily cleaned. You should be able to disinfect it between foster groups. Carpet and other soft surfaces can harbor disease hosts from group to group. It is also difficult to clean up accidents on carpet, especially when they seep into the carpet pad. Bathrooms and other areas with tile, hardwood or other impermeable surfaces are ideal places to house your foster animals. 4. Preparing your garden area
If you have a fenced in backyard, check that there aren’t holes in the fence or any other escape route. Do NOT leave your foster puppy in the backyard without your supervision.


A “house” for the pet: You can use the carrier in which you took the animal home, a crate or a cardboard box — anything that will provide the pet a familiar-smelling, dark, quiet refuge. Water and food: Provide access to water at all times. Remember, young animals can drown, so make sure the bowl is very shallow. If you’re fostering a cat – litter box and non-clumping Litter: Cats will instinctively use a litter box.

Daily Routine
– Feeding

  • Kittens should be fed at least 4 times a day.
  • Pick up dirty wet food dishes.
  • Monitor appetites.

– Cleaning Schedule

  • Scoop litterbox at least 2 times daily.
  • Monitor for diarrhea.
  • Clay litter should be dumped and changed every other day

– Health Check

  • Look over your kitten everyday for any changes or potential medical problems.
  • Check body and fur.
  • Look closely at eyes, in mouth and ears.
  • Check energy levels.

– Socialization

  • Socialize kittens and do not keep them in isolation.
  • Encourage affectionate behavior.
  • Kittens should meet new people a few times weekly if possible.

– Handling & Grooming

  • Medium or long-haired kittens especially may
    benefit from daily exposure to brushing in very small amounts.
  • Gently handling paws in preparation for nail trimming.
  • Exposure to being picked up

How Do I Know if the Kittens are Sick?

Healthy kittens have a lot of energy when they are awake. They are playful and will only spend a short time in your lap. The eyes and nose should be generally free of any discharge. The stool will be firm and well-shaped. Kittens eat a lot, but the amount they drink depends on how much wet food they consume (the more wet food, the less water). Kittens may sneeze occasionally. They may also scratch a little. These are normal kitten behaviors. It is not always obvious when the kittens are sick. In nature, cats will hide any sickness so they don’t appear vulnerable.

  • Diarrhea – There are 3 types of cat stool: normal, soft, and diarrhea.
  • Worms (roundworms & tapeworms)
  • Vomiting – Vomiting is not serious unless it happens more than once.
  • Eye Discharge – It is normal for kittens to wake up with a little dark crust in their eyes. If you notice that the kittens have yellow or green discharge coming from their eyes all the time, make a medical appointment
  • Sneezing/Nasal Discharge – Occasional sneezing is quite common in small kittens. If the sneezing becomes frequent, examine the discharge coming from the sneeze. If it is clear, the infection is probably viral and medication may not be needed but it is important to monitor the kittens in case the problem gets worse. If the discharge becomes colored (e.g. green or yellow), it is time to make a medical appointment because the kitten may have a bacterial infection. Be sure to monitor the kittens’ breathing as well. If the kittens seem to be struggling to breathe or are breathing with their mouths open, call the vet for advice. Also, be sure that the kittens are still eating, as a kitten won’t eat what he or she can’t smell.
  • Lethargy – Healthy kittens are normally active when they are awake. Sick kittens may have low energy and want to just sit in your lap. Each kitten is different, depending on their socialization level, but if you notice a drop in the kitten’s individual energy level, it is best to make a medical appointment If a kitten can’t be roused or seems weak, this is an emergency!
  • Ringworm -if you notice hair thinning or completely coming out in patches, please make a medical appointment. Fur loss is the first indicator of ringworm, which is a fungus that can be spread to humans and other household pets. The young, the elderly, and people and animals with suppressed immune systems are most susceptible. While it is not fatal, ringworm is itchy to people and very hard to get out of your home.


All foster puppies MUST be kept at home
One significant aspect of fostering underage puppies is that you are dealing with animals that have not yet developed immunity to a variety of potentially fatal canine diseases. As these foster puppies have not been vaccinated, their immunity is very low and we recommend that they not be taken out. It is imperative for puppies to stay in the home until they have been fully vaccinated – which is usually around 2-4 months of age. The most common symptoms of illness in a puppy are vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and lack of appetite. These may appear in any combination. If your puppy exhibits any of these symptoms, take the puppy to the nearest vet as fast as possible.


1 Socialization
Between the ages of 3-12 weeks, puppies are forming bonds towards people dogs and other animals which will last them a lifetime. Puppies who are not exposed to and/or do not have good experiences with people, dogs or other animals during this period can end up with fear and aggression problems later on. As much as possible (and keeping the puppies’ safety in mind), get the puppies around all kinds of people – including children, big, uniformed men, etc. and make sure they have good experiences (play, petting and treats). It’s also a good idea to expose the puppies to cats to maximize their chances of growing up to like cats.

2 Sights & Sounds
Puppies are cataloguing other things in their environment besides people and animals. Make sure they see and hear common household things like vacuum cleaners, TV’s, etc. Praise and treat the puppies every time they come into contact with something new so they have positive associations with these experiences.

3. Toilet training
Put the puppies in the toilet zone as soon as they wake up, right after eating and at last once an hour to start. Reward him with enthusiastic praise EVERY TIME he urinates or defecates in the right place.

4. Handling
Handle the puppy ALL THE TIME all over his body, play with his feet, brush him, hug him and give him treats/food while you do it so he learns to love it.

5 Training
Even at this age, you can teach puppies sit, down and other things provided you use gentle lure-reward methods and keep the training sessions short and fun! Thank you for helping SPCA Penang save the lives of animals in need. You are invaluable to us, and we appreciate you opening your hearts and homes. Please feel free to contact us with any questions – the SPCA team is here to support you.

    Neoh Chin Heng’s Fostering Story

    “As a volunteer, I often contribute my part to SPCA through fostering puppies. Though I am unable to commit to having a pet, fostering is one way where I could learn and interact with the puppies. Most puppies which I foster are around 3 to 5 weeks of age. When I first volunteered to foster, I had no idea at all on what I should do as I have never owned a dog. The internet and advice from the SPCA TEAM were the only source that I had about dogs.
    Diamond was the first puppy that I have fostered. There was not much of a problem for me as the puppy was very obedient. The only problem that I had was the potty training, but Diamond was a fast learner. My parents were against the idea of having a dog in the house but they gradually accepted it as they came to understand more about dogs. A home with a dog is not the same as one without it.
    Whenever I came home, Diamond would welcome me with a warm smile and she made me felt happy especially when I had a bad day and it even gave me a positive vibe. We enjoyed each other’s company. It is always good to have a dog to spend time with, but as a fosterer I have learnt to let go when the time comes. No matter how much we love them, in the end they will have to go back to the shelter to find a forever home. When the time came for me to return Diamond, I found it very hard to part with her. I tried to control myself and cope with my emotions, no matter how unwilling I was to send her back. I took a lot of photos and videos of her before that so that I can have her in my memories, and I have since practiced this habit on every successful fostering. After my first successful foster attempt, I have then fostered more and more puppies whenever called upon by the SPCA. It was a great experience for me and my family and we will continue to support SPCA through fostering and other means. Would you be keen to join me in the fostering team?!”

    Neoh with Diamond