“HAVING the company of cats is a reward in itself if you love cats.”

Edward Newman and his family love cats. Yet owning a cat permanently would not be easy as they sometimes travel to visit relatives abroad and can be away for lengthy periods.

For them, fostering is the perfect solution. For the past two years Edward, his wife Keiko and children Laurence, ten and four-year-old Juliette have given felines a temporary, loving home before they find full-time owners.

“Keiko is from Japan, and we can travel there for fairly long periods of time, so short-term fostering is perfect for us,” says Edward. “Fostering cats during lockdown also helped to get us through that experience. We are aware that cats have sometimes lost their previous homes for various reasons and we like the idea of helping them during a difficult time, before they find a permanent home.”

So far the family has taken care of seven cats, fostered through the charity Yorkshire Cat Rescue, based at Cross Roads near Keighley.

As Edward says, the company of cats is rewarding in itself. “Fostering is a great way to meet and get to know different cats, who all have different personalities. Laurence and Juliette love to play with the cats and learn about them. The cats are also quite easy to take care of.

“It is important to keep in mind, however, that the point of fostering is to help a cat at a transitional time of their lives. It is not primarily something to do just for fun. Some foster cats are a little shy and want to keep away from humans, and in those circumstances you have to give them space and be patient. Even the shy cats usually warm to their foster carers eventually, but you can’t assume that will happen.”

Young cats or kittens settle quickly and they tend to be friendly from the beginning, explains Edward, while older cats are generally more reserved and sometimes very shy.

“Some will have spent a long period of their lives living with someone and circumstances have changed - sadly, their previous owner may no longer be able to care for them or may have died, and so it is a difficult time for them.

“The only time we had more than one cat, it was a pair who had already been living together, so they were friends. I don’t think that Yorkshire Cat Rescue would place more than one cat for fosterers in the same home unless they had good reason to think that they would get on well. For the same reason, it may not be appropriate to foster a cat if someone already has pets, especially a dog, but sometimes cats don’t get on well either.”

Laurence and Juliette love welcoming foster cats and love to play with them. “Of course, our children need to understand the importance of being gentle, and that some foster cats may not like to be picked up and cuddled,” says Edward.

Understandably, the family does become attached to the cats. “It can be sad to take them back, especially for the children,” says Edward. “Juliette has sometimes asked if we could keep them permanently, but generally, the children understand what fostering means. For my wife and I, we appreciate having a break from the cats in between fostering, and it is also a pleasure to meet a new cat the next time around, which is something that we wouldn’t experience if we had a permanent cat.”

He adds: “We did recommend a cat we fostered to some friends who wanted to adopt a cat, and so we occasionally see a former foster cat, which is lovely.

Yorkshire Cat Rescue provides a huge amount of support. “Fosterers are given a key contact who keeps in touch and responds to all requests for guidance or help. We absolutely recommend fostering if you love cats.”

*For more information visit yorkshirecatrescue.org; Email: mail@yorkshirecatrescue.org or call 01535 647184