Battersea dog and cat foster carers – photo essay

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has a network of more than 1,000 volunteers and foster carers to call on when necessary. In normal circumstances, an average stay is 34 days for dogs and 25 days for cats.

The home has had lots of generous offers from people willing to open their homes to its animals during the past couple of months, but had to suspend new fostering applications in order to prioritise working with existing staff and volunteers to provide ongoing care for the dogs and cats during the coronavirus pandemic.

In the couple of weeks before suspending rehoming, 86 dogs and 69 cats were rehomed, and more than 50% of the centre’s animals are currently fostered.

Battersea said: “After suspending rehoming for several weeks, we have now begun rehoming animals again, using government-approved guidance. However, we aren’t currently able to move at the same pace as before as we’re having to take new steps in our rehoming process, eg virtual introductions or delivering animals ourselves following social distancing. Due to our limited resources we’re currently having to prioritise customers who filled out rehoming applications before lockdown.”

Anise the cat gave birth to four kittens in Moss’s bedroom and now the room is totally dedicated to the kittens, with Moss sleeping on a sofa bed in the frontroom. The images were shot over Zoom.

Moss says: “Anise is super-affectionate and loves to be as close to you as possible when snuggling. Her favourite position is to half sit against you, being spooned with her legs stuck out to the side!

  • The kittens, over Zoom

“As my first long-term foster, she’s wiggled her way into my heart and I love her to bits. I’ll miss her when she’s rehomed, but it’s definitely best for her.

“I used to work in the cattery at Battersea and I know how vital fostering is to help these cats show us their true personalities, as well as look after our mums and kittens in a safe and enriching environment, so when Anise needed fostering I didn’t even hesitate to offer my home.”

“Auggie has been a larger-than-life addition to our household during this time. Fostering him has made lockdown so much more bearable. He’s a lovely boy who loves his people.” He loves nothing more than a fuss or chasing a tennis ball (although his catching skills still need some work!)”

“Little Bella has been in our lives for a few months now and has settled into lockdown life beautifully. She is ridiculously cuddly and will seek any opportunity to sit on your lap, or as close to your face as physically possible. For a small dog, she has absolutely no fear of heights and will happily fall backwards into your arms, thus assuming the position for belly rubs.

“Bella has her routine of relaxing on the windowsill as we work from home and she usually sits there all day, or she might take herself out into the garden to soak up the rays for a change of scenery. During her two daily walks she will lose herself in the tall grass of Tooting Common, only to be spotted by the bright blue bow tie she wears on her harness. She enjoys socialising with other dogs in the park, although she does prefer canine companions who are closer to her height.

“All in all, ‘Bing-Bong’ Bella is a joy to have and provides a small light in these chaotic times.”

“Bella is a bit of a scaredy-cat who likes her own space most of the time, but who has come out of her shell more and more since she’s been on foster. Now that we know each other a little better, she can be very chatty (think low-key wolf-howl-at-the-moon) and cuddly when she wants to be … or when she thinks there’s a scratch or some treats in it for her.

“She’s actually being rehomed this weekend and I think I’m going to be bereft. She’s been a constant reassuring presence in the flat whilst she’s been here, and is a great sounding board for all my madcap lockdown schemes. I’ve loved having her and am going to miss her a lot when she goes to her (very lucky) new owners. She’s a seriously special dog.”

Eves works at Battersea and has fostered Cora, who was previously abandoned, during the pandemic. Cora is not allowed to go outside and loves her indoor cat grass. Eves would love to keep her permanently but before lockdown a family was interested in rehoming Cora.

“Cora is the perfect lockdown companion. She loves to snooze next to me in her doughnut bed while I’m working from home, waking up occasionally to climb on my knee and chirrup hello during conference calls. Her favourite pastimes include bird-watching, chomping on cat grass, playing with string toys and curling up in my arms for a cuddle.

“Her new nickname is ‘Cora the explorer’ because she loves to explore every corner of the house (including inside cupboards, tote bags and the washing basket) and she’s very interested in any birds flying by the window. My favourite moments are when she decides to curl up in my arms or on my shoulder – especially if she’s not trying to wash my face!”

Jackson works at Battersea and has fostered Ned temporarily during the pandemic. She lives with her partner in in Brixton and they both want to keep Ned.

“Ned is a sweet, gentle, cuddly dog who loves attention and some good belly rubs. His favourite time of the day is the evening when he gets to cuddle up on the couch with his humans.”

“I felt that this was the perfect time to be a foster carer because I really wanted to do something to give back and help out. I hoped that by being a foster carer, I would be able to make a positive impact on at least one animal.”

“I love my foster dog, Rufus, he has made lockdown fly by and has been so much fun to have stay with us. He’s only a youngster, he turns one on Sunday. He loves life and everything in it: food, toys, people, dogs, cats, birds and plants, but mostly cuddles and kisses. He’s a big bundle of joy and despite weighing nearly 30kg, he loves sitting on our laps.

“I wanted to be a foster carer to help out during this difficult time in some way. I’m still working full-time so it felt like the best way to volunteer my time and give a lovely animal a much-needed foster home. I will be forever grateful to have had Rufus in my life, he’s been there for me and my partner during some tough times in the last couple of months and made us laugh when we needed it most.”

Vlaeminke works at Battersea and has fostered Skippy during the coronavirus outbreak.

“Skippy came to us about 10 days after having his leg amputated and the best thing about the past seven weeks has been watching him become more and more playful and lively as he adapts to life on three legs. Now he has no trouble dribbling a football around the garden.

“Once we moved somewhere with a garden, we always hoped we might be able to foster a Battersea dog. It’s been wonderful sharing our lockdown with such an affectionate dog and we’re excited that he’s heading off to his permanent home this week.”

“Ollie is such a sweet boy. He loves everyone and wants constant cuddles and affection. Having him during lockdown has been a massive comfort and it’s going to be so heartbreaking to see him go. I will miss the way he waits for me in the window to come home and how he always burps after he eats.

“I became a foster carer to give dogs a second chance in a loving home and I know that whoever Ollie ends up with is very, very lucky.”

Battersea relies on the generosity of the public in order to care for the thousands of animals that arrive at the three centres each year. The best way to show your support right now is to make a donation