A few month ago, an acquaintance asked for a foster home for two male kitties on Facebook, and I hesitatingly posted a reply to her query. I already have an older cat for whom I care, a female with claws; these were two young males who had been neutered and declawed. I knew my home was unsuitable, but said I could possibly offer sanctuary for a brief time if it was truly a desperate need. I opened the door to what was to become a few months of stress, guilt, education, heartbreak, expenses, and absolute joy.
Two Precious Spirits
The energy and loving spirits of those two beings touched us all. Soon my adult son was coming over to see the boys every chance he got. He declared they were “perfect cats,” despite the fact that they were athletic and rambunctious–and occasionally destructive. They chewed a hole in my photo backdrops. They knocked over vases and lamps, and even managed to get a painting from the wall to the floor. They knocked my clothes off the hangers, threw most everything off the shelves in the closet, and esconced themselves forever in my heart. I would listen to my grandson giggling happily at their antics – there was nothing he loved better. I warned him from the beginning that they were only here for a short while, but as the weeks dragged on, he fell in total love with them. We all did.
On the downside, my own senior cat was none too happy. I kept the boys in my bedroom, where there are windows out into the greenbelt, an adjoining bath with cool tile, and a walk in closet filled with things to explore, to minimize any potential conflict between clawed and declawed. Still, I felt like a prison warden, keeping them locked away for most of the day in order to allow my own feline roommate as much normalcy as possible. She seemed to go downhill, too – she was losing weight and despite my best efforts, she was paying the price for my desire to help the boys find a home. The boys would cry to join me and I would look at those winsome eyes feeling helpless to explain the situation. They purred the minute I went into their rooms and I spent a lot of time giving them temporary freedom and attention while our resident cat napped. Then I would hear our senior cat cry and know the boys would have to go back into their room until the next time I could let them out.
Receiving More Than Giving
The fostering experience was more than I could have anticipated. I tried sending out color flyers and asked everyone I knew to help. Finally I was connected online with a couple of rescue people who offered assistance – both were involved in rehoming animals through adoption events in pet stores. I went with the first one who contacted me and followed all instructions. First was a long trip to the rescue group’s vet for FIV/FLV testing – the boys were negative but it was to become one more expense for me. I would be reimbursed once they were placed, but a long, hot, miserable drive to the adoption event proved futile – we were dismissed, the boys were labeled ‘unadoptable” and we were sent home. Their frightened hissing did not bode well for such an event. The group did, however, list us as an independent adoption on Petfinder, and I continued to list them on Pawsitively Texas, a Facebook site for rehoming animals, as I had for months.
Suddenly, one particular photo seemed to garner attention, and within four days I had six people contact me. Two wanted only one cat, two gave up after innitial queries, and two wanted both of the boys. Since I hated the thought of separating these littermates and best buddies, I was grateful to find two potential homes. When the first one decided to only accept one cat, the option fell to the second visitor. This young father was so taken with the cats, and they with him, that it relieved my mind. He even put up with all my questions about the suitability of his home. I loaded his truck up with all their belongings: dishes, litter boxes, toys, treats, food bin – even a laser they loved to chase. This young man had grown up with cats, had them sleeping on his chest as a child. His own sons loved the cat at their grandmothers and now that they were getting older, he decided it was time for them to have kitties in their own home. I put the boys in their carrier and said a quick goodbye. I was elated they had a good home and delighted I could once again focus on Skitter, my own feline roommate.
Opening the Door, Part Two
Two days later, as I finally opened the door to my room after removing all signs of the boys, after washing down every surface and putting order back in the room, I thought of those two beautiful faces. I missed their constant purring, their playful nature, those inquisitive looks, the soft little paws on my legs, their total love of life itself. I remembered one of them trying to jump up and hit the icemaker after watching me use it and how they would leap to the top shelf of the closet to nap! I know they are two of the more fortunate ones, with 70% of cats being killed in shelters, never having a chance for life. Still, I am concerned for their future but have to let go and let their future happen. I told the adopter that I would take them back if it didn’t work out for any reason to give them a little bit more security. He seemed a lot like my own son, who has seen many animals through to the end, and I hope they will all have a wonderful, long, loving life together.
It is great to have peace and order back in my life. Our own itty bitty Skitty seems so tiny compared to those thirteen-pounders, and she barely weighed a thing by the time they left. A week later, she has put on weight and her coat looks so much healthier! She has her domain back and she will not lose it again. (Skits was herself a foster, originally a temporary sheltering that has lasted nine years so far.) I am so grateful that the boys could be placed together with a young family, just as I had hoped. And I am ever so grateful that Skits will have time to enjoy the peace of her own place in the world to the very end.
Each opened door also means a closed door, and it is with both joy and grief that I wish those Manx brothers, whom I dearly love, the very, very best life has to offer. They delighted us, adored us, exasperated us, and touched us. They reminded us of the precious gift of life and its many manifestations. Goodbye boys; you will be missed!