Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Tough Part of Fostering

Nik came to the shelter after living with a woman who was unable to take care of him. She gave him a ton of food and very little attention/exercise so that he ate so much he grew too fat to clean himself. Because he couldn't clean himself, Nik developed mats in his fur and had to be partially shaved when the woman's family finally took the cat from her (why none of them could take care of their "beloved" relative's cat, I don't know).

He spent from early December through February at the shelter being overlooked because he was a large black adult cat (already three points against people immediately choosing him) who was overwhelmed and had weird shaved patches in his fur along with dandruff from the stress (three more points against him).

Then I brought him home. He's learned to sit for his food, gets along with Toby, climbs onto the bed to cuddle with my feet, and trots to the door when I get home at night. We've figured out his digestive issues, brushed his coat, given him supplemental oil and so much attention that his fur is looking healthy.

It's now late April. He hid during Thursday's Meow Mixer while I was at class. His little heart beat furiously when we sat in the air conditioned RV during today's Bonnets and Bones. He got an application at his first Meow Mixer but then the girl wasn't ready to commit to a cat.

Nikolai is a great little cat. He does silly, funny, sweet things all the time. He tried to chew on my W2 when I was doing my taxes. He still sometimes slips backward when he tries to jump on the bed. He gives me the most intense, serious look when he makes it to the top of the bed. When I was sick this week, he curled up and slept with me all day and then climbed onto my lap when I tried to get up, like a good mom saying "no, you need to rest."

It's tough having this beautiful, wonderful cat and worrying that he'll never find his forever home When the girl said she wasn't ready to commit after applying and seeming perfect (Nik jumped out of another woman's arms to cuddle with this girl), I felt like the mother of the girl who the boy leaves at the alter. Not ready to commit? To the kitty who liked you so much? To this sweet wonderful kitty?

My riding instructor is going to ask around and post a flyer about Nik (with an adorable photo of him). I wrote a new description and took a new photo for the shelter foster page. I know that Nik lives in the now and is happy in my home and I know that he doesn't understand that some girl couldn't commit to him. But I'm a bleeding-heart and I feel sad for him. He should be wanted and adored and told that he will never have another owner for the rest of his life.

I know, I could adopt him. I've been asked why I don't by people who meet him who don't understand fostering. And believe me, I'm not giving Nik back to the shelter or adopting him to someone who wouldn't be right for him just so I can foster another cat. But, right now, I have my reasons for not adopting him.

I live in a small efficiency. I already own one cat. I am only allowed to have two in the apartment. If I adopt another cat, I can't foster. Nik and Toby get along, but they're not great friends. They're male cats and Nik is four years older than Toby. I don't mind cleaning up nervous cat vomit or dealing with a cat who hides or brushing a cat who can't clean himself. I don't mind all the things one deals with in a cat who isn't quite up to standards of easy adoptability. Nik now doesn't vomit regularly or have crazy dandruff from stress and lack of grooming. He has an environment where he is comfortable and can run around and work off some of his extra weight. I'm no cat whisperer, but I did help Nik. There are other kitties who need someone like me.

No matter what gets knocked over broken, attacked, vommitted on, or scratched--I don't get mad. There is a children's book, The Very Bad Bunny that I loved as a child because it seemed to describe me. The Very Bad Bunny didn't mean to be bad and didn't mean any harm, but always caused messes and trouble and problems just by trying to be good or helpful or friendly. I think this is why I don't mind the oddities one deals with in a stressed out kitty. I was lucky enough to have parents who loved me no matter what I broke, colored on, or messed up. Every animal deserves unconditional love. Nik has unconditional love from me, I just want him to find his forever family. He'll make some family so happy. It's hard to not go and push him in people's faces and demand they notice what a wonderful cat he is. I love him so much. It's hard to see people pass him up for younger, thinner models.

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