This morning, a young couple came to meet my foster cat, Kirby.
In a couple weeks, it will have been a year since a scraggly, scrawny black cat wandered his way into my backyard. He looked rough. He was skinny, and he had an eye infection in both eyes so bad that his eyes were almost sealed shut. At first, I thought he might be a feral cat. But, when I went outside, he ran right up to me, flopped over, and asked for a belly rub. He purred and rolled around on his back, begging for some love. I wondered how long it had been since he'd been touched by a friendly hand. This little guy had no collar and no tags, of course, and he was in pretty rough shape. I wondered if he had gotten lost, or if someone simply dumped him off in our neighborhood. It was clear that he'd been on his own for a while, but he was so friendly, obviously he had a home at some point in time. As much as I wanted to feed him, since he was so skinny, I resisted the temptation, and let him go on his way. We asked everyone in the neighborhood if they were missing a black cat, and of course, no one was. For a couple days, he'd show up in the backyard to stop by and say hi and get some love and attention.
Knowing what typically happens to sickly black cats at animal control, I contacted Second Chance Animal Rescue to see what I should do with him. And so began my journey as an animal foster. We'd considered fostering in the past, but always decided the timing wasn't just right. Well, when Kirby showed up in our backyard, he made the decision for us. Second Chance Animal Rescue agreed to allow us to foster Kirby under their organization.
It took a while for Kirby to learn house manners, since he was on his own for so long, and he was a little wild at times, but over the months, his awesome, unique personality developed more and more. His eye infection cleared right up, he underwent hernia repair surgery, a healthy diet gave him a gorgeous shiny black coat, and he put on five or six pounds. He learned what toys are and learned to play with gusto. He is such a cool cat with cute habits and tricks and he adores attention.
We took him to monthly adoption days, but unfortunately, he didn't do well. The car ride to PetCo freaked him out, sitting in a cage freaked him out, all the strange noises and commotion freaked him out. He acted like a feral cat in his adoption cage. His adorable personality just didn't come out when he was at adoption days, and potential adopters over looked him every time.
I was starting to think that poor Kirby was never going to get adopted. We knew that if an adopter met him in our home, where he acted like himself, he'd get adopted in a heartbeat. But after almost a year, I was starting to think that nobody would ever want him, and I'd end up adopting him myself.
When I first decided to foster Kirby, I was determined not to become a "foster failure." I guess most fosters "fail" and end up adopting a foster at some point in time, but I didn't want to "fail" on my first foster pet. If I ended up adopting Kirby myself, I couldn't be a foster for any other cats. In animal rescue, foster homes are worth a million bucks. They provide a safe haven for an animal in desperate need, and often it's a life or death situation. Rescues can only save as many animals as they have available space for. As much as I love Kirby, my job is to provide him a wonderful temporary home until he finds a permanent home.
I got the call last night that someone was interested in meeting Kirby, and had passed the screening process with flying colors. The young lady and her boyfriend were going to drive over an hour to meet him this morning and fill out an adoption application. After I got off the phone with her, it really hit me: Kirby's getting adopted.
I'm not even sure how to describe the feelings I have right now. On the one hand, the thought that Kirby's not going to be with us anymore absolutely breaks my heart. I love him as much as I love my own cats. On the other hand, I'm so excited and thrilled that he's finally getting adopted! I knew that giving him up was going to be difficult because I love him, and he's been with me for almost a year. But, I am so happy that he's getting adopted!
When his potential adopters drove up to our house this morning, Kirby ran right up to greet them at the door. He immediately started tossing a toy around and acting like a goofball. Then he ran over to the couple and asked them to pet him. The couple watched him and interacted with him for about two minutes before saying, "We're sure!" We went through all the paperwork, and this couple is wonderful! They had already gone through the screening process and passed with flying colors. It's going to be an awesome home for Kirby! I was kind of surprised that I wasn't sad at all during this process. I was just excited and happy that Kirby was getting adopted!
Since Kirby's been with us for almost a year now, he's due for his updated shots, so he's going to be at our house for another day or two so I can bring him in to get his vaccines updated so the new adopter doesn't have to worry about that. I have a couple more days with him, then he's moving on to his new life. That's the part that makes me sad: not having Kirby in my home anymore. I'm taking pictures, and spending time with him. Kirby acts like I'm crazy, fawning over him, taking pictures, and getting all emotional. It's like he's telling me, "Mom, it's cool. Don't be sad. You took great care of me, and now I'm finally getting my own home." Kirby will move on, and will have a great new life, and I will always have wonderful memories of him. Kirby's adoption is bittersweet, but in all honesty, it's more sweet than bitter. I've done my job as a foster, and because of me, Kirby will have a wonderful life.
So, will I do this again? You bet! There are always cats in animal control running out of time. Because I foster, and because a wonderful young family decided to adopt Kirby, I can help save another life.
This poem kind of helps explain why we fosters do this:
Dear Foster Mom
There I sat, alone and afraid.
You got a call and came right to my aid.
You bundled me up with blankets and love.
And, when I needed it most, you gave me a hug.
I learned that the world was not all that scary and cold.
That sometimes there is someone to have and to hold.
You taught me what love is, you helped me to mend.
You loved me and healed me and became my first friend.
And just when I thought you'd done all you do,
There came along not one new lesson, but two.
First you said, "Sweetheart, you're ready to go.
I've done all I can, and you've learned all I know."
Then you bundled me up with a blanket and kiss.
Along came a new family, they even have kids!
They took me to their home, forever to stay.
At first I thought you sent me away.
Then that second lesson became perfectly clear.
No matter how far, you will always be near.
And so, Foster Mom, you know I've moved on.
I have a new home, with toys and a lawn.
But I'll never forget what I learned that first day.
You never really give your fosters away.
You gave me these thoughts to remember you by.
We may never meet again, and now I know why.
You'll remember I lived with you for a time.
I may not be yours, but you'll always be mine.
- Author Unknown
A couple weeks ago, the adoption coordinator for Second Chance Animal Rescue sent out an email asking for help in finding people interested in fostering cats, particularly kittens and pregnant cats. If you are involved in cat rescue, you know that spring means kitten season, when hundreds of litters of unwanted kittens are born, and there's not enough homes for them all. Every humane society, animal control shelter, and rescue organization gets inundated with requests to take surrendered or found litters of kittens in the spring and summer. There is simply not enough room for them all. It's a sad fact that in the Twin Cities metro area, hundreds of cute, adorable, healthy, perfectly adoptable kittens will be euthanized in the coming months because there's not enough homes for them all, and not enough shelter and foster space to save them all.
If you have a spare room and some spare love, you can help save the life of a cat or kittens. While it took almost a year for Kirby to get adopted, it doesn't typically take that long for fosters to get adopted, especially kittens. Fostering is such an awesomely rewarding experience! If you are interested in fostering, please contact Second Chance Animal Rescue at 651-771-5662 for more information.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
This morning, a young couple came to meet my foster cat, Kirby.