Last March, we agreed to take in two foster cats, brothers who were about 6 months old. They needed socialization and more space to roam than their previous foster could give. Rescue Angels of Southern Maryland also asked us to give them new names, so we called them Dickens and Poe.
Dickens and Poe were terrified. We isolated them to a bathroom to start. The first night, Poe hid behind the toilet. Dickens took up residence among the clothes in the adjoining closet. You couldn’t go near them without them running away or cowering into the corner.
Fast forward to last Saturday when Dickens and Poe were finally adopted! Their new owner is a cat person, and she totally gets these two. She knows that they might hide behind toilets and in closets the first night. Maybe the second and third nights, too. She understands that their trust has to be earned, that humans have let them down before.
But man, what a reward she will get when they come around! Poe is a little bolder, and, don’t tell Dickens, but I am going to miss him the most. Poe is chatty and in your face. When he wants your attention, there’s no ignoring him. He’ll rub against your hand until you pet him. He uses his whole body weight to give kitty hugs against your legs or your chest or your back. He’s a major lap cat, so on these chilly nights, he’s going to want to sit with someone. And when he’s tired, he’ll nap on your lap for hours.
Dickens will take longer because he is so shy and skittish, but you can tell from his face that he craves attention. He hangs out at the edges of the action, wanting to join in the fun, but too scared to get too close. But when it’s quiet, he’ll come looking for affection. Maybe it will be when you’re snoozing a few extra minutes in the morning or when you’re staying up past your bedtime watching TV. He’ll come looking for pets and belly rubs, and he’s got the loudest purr when he’s happy. He’s hard to get into a carrier, but in my attempts to do so on Saturday, I got to snuggle and hug him. I’ve never been able to hold him in all these months.
When I tell people that we foster cats, they always tell me how they could never do it because they’d want to keep them all. And I have to admit, that sentiment is true. I wanted to keep Dickens and Poe, and I cried the day they left. But we already have three cats, and if we took in all the cats we fostered, we’d reach a limit. Then we couldn’t save any more lives. There’s a quote going around that explains perfectly how I feel about fostering:
We fostered these guys for more than eight months, and we’re planning a move, so it’s time for us to take a break. But we’re not giving up on rescue altogether. We’ve got cats in the backyard to trap and neuter, and I am heavily involved with Rescue Angels of Southern Maryland in other ways.
And someday, there will be more foster cats.