Thursday, June 19, 2008

Why Foster?

For any of you wondering about fostering or those who never considered it, let me share a few of my experiences. I was always the person who seemed to encounter desperate homeless cats that we couldn’t take in because our own cats were intolerant of newcomers. The stray kitten alone in the woods, the attention-starved cat a friend wanted to discard after the arrival of a baby, the old tabby lingering at the apartment complex hoping for some hand-outs. When our ancient cats died, we declared we would not actively get a new cat; we would wait for the inevitable needy cat to find us and for once we could take it in. You know what happened of course. No desperate cats showed up at our door anymore, now that we were available.

Then we discovered fostering. Not only could we take in one homeless cat after another and find them forever homes, but there was so much more joy we didn’t anticipate. The excitement of a new cat arriving, discovering their personalities emerge from the moment they poke their noses out of the carrier. What would this little one be like? There’s Tamari the brown tabby who chose to remain in the open carrier for 7 hours before creeping out in the dead of night. Or Ian, the orange tabby, who bounded out and started pouncing on things immediately. Or Dewdrop the gray girl who crawled right into our laps. Isaiah, the flame point Siamese, casually walked out as if he’d lived here his whole life. Over the first week or so, it is such a delight to discover who these creatures are. But even more wonderful is filling their cup with attention that the majority were so deprived of. I have found that most start out seeming incredibly needy. They want to be petted constantly and follow us all over the house. Over time, I can see them start to calm. They are not so desperate and they begin to relax. They seem so happy to have food and love; two things that most of them were very short on.

There is the learning curve as well. Never feed them first thing in the morning or else soon enough they will do all they can to make sure morning begins very early. We learned how to create a makeshift lock on our breadbox for Becca, the tabby-and-white girl who could get into anything for bread.

Our half litter of kittens (who incidentally did show up one day in the middle of the woods without a mom), Henry, Hayden, and Marshmallow, were so rambunctious that we kept them in my office at night and when I opened the door in the morning, they’d tumble out as if they’d been stacked one on top of the other, listening for my footstep. Then would begin a day of chasing, pouncing, surprise attacks, and of course snuggling to sleep as a threesome bundle of fur.

Who do we have now? Camille. Only we call her Hazelnut. She’s a ‘rubber’. She interacts with you by rubbing on your hand and on any available piece of furniture. She moves slowly as if through water, sliding her body along a bookcase or your leg. She’s the gentlest one we’ve had so far. She is so happy to have someone want to notice HER instead of just her kittens. We’re still learning who she is but hope soon she’ll be in a loving forever home.

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