Fostering rescue cats as health promotion

Posted by Christine Roseveare on 10 June 2024


Fostering rescue cats as health promotion

HOPE Scholar, Christine Roseveare (Massey University), is presenting her poster at the International Society for Anthrozooology conference. Christine states involving more older adults as animal fosterers has the potential to improve the health of both animals and the humans who care for them. You can download the poster and below is the abstract for this poster.

24 Roseveare eposter for ISAZ

Poster for Fostering rescue cats as a health promotion

Introduction: Many animal rescue organisations have foster programmes for animals who are too young to be adopted or need time for healing or adjustment. While research has examined the health benefits of pet ownership and animal visitation programmes, little is known about the experiences and potential health benefits of fostering animals, particularly for older adults.

Aim: To explore the health promotion potential of feline companion animal fostering by older adults in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Methods: A national online survey of 106 animal rescue organizations identified those with cat fostering programmes. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 foster programme coordinators and analysed through a health promotion lens, using thematic analysis.

Results: Seventy-five percent of cat rescue programmes in Aotearoa New Zealand have foster programmes. Coordinators value compassion, responsibility, and time availability in fosterers, qualities they believe older adults possess. They emphasize that fostering can provide emotional connection, companionship, and build social networks. Potential challenges and concerns about older fosterers include anxiety, physical frailty, property damage, and the use of social media and web-based communication methods. Opportunities exist for family collaboration, fostering programmes in retirement villages, and residential settings.

Conclusions: Companion animal fostering aligns with the Ottawa Charter principle that caring for others in everyday settings promotes health. Involving more older adults as animal fosterers has the potential to improve the health of both animals and the humans who care for them. These findings have implications for the development of targeted fostering programmes and policies that support older adults participation in interspecies relationships through fostering.


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