Fostering a Cat: You Get Much More Than You Give

Pixie needs a home!

Pixie needs a home!

Below is a wonderful story from volunteer Amy I. on how fostering a cat can bring joy not only to our feline friends, but to the foster “mom” as well. If you’d like to foster a cat (or dog) for Much Love, please fill out a short application here and we will contact you!

She was a tiny little tangerine tabby cat hiding under a brush, cradled in dirt and sadness, when I found her.  I reached my hands out and said sweetly, “here kitty kitty,” but she wouldn’t budge. Her eyes were stained with muddy tears and I had no choice but to drag her from under the brush and take her to the shelter, for I was in no place in life to take care of an animal.

I had never been inside of an animal shelter before and when I arrived for the first time I gasped at what I was not emotionally prepared to see. There were four dogs and cats to a crate with no room to move. The symphonic weeping of cat and dog prisoners was like the score of a horror movie too scary to watch. I cradled the cat I found in my arms and went up to a lady working at the shelter and asked her what would happen to her after I left and she said, rather nonchalantly as if she had said it so many times before she couldn’t even hear herself anymore, that someone would either adopt her or she would be euthanized.  Or, she added, someone can foster her until she gets adopted and that way she’ll be kept alive.  I couldn’t leave her there to possibly die so I become her foster parent.

Calvin is in a wonderful foster and would love to be adopted by YOU!

Calvin is in a wonderful foster and would love to be adopted by YOU!

I took her home and named her Velveeta because she was creamy orange and absolutely delicious.  I knew I only had her until another lucky person got their own claws in her, so I wanted to soak up as much of her as I could. But, she wouldn’t let anyone go near her.  Someone had scared the wits out of her and she didn’t have an ounce of trust for anything except a tiny dark spot under my bed and a blanket I laid out for her that smelled like leaves.  For a week I refilled her food bowl under the bed and I spent hours with my face pressed between the bottom of my bed and the floor so she could see my face, and I would tell her it was going to be alright, that she was safe now and didn’t have to worry.  She never looked at me, she never budged, and it was breaking my heart.

On the day Velveeta was being picked up to attend a rescue event to hopefully get adopted I walked into my room to try and get her from under the bed but she wasn’t there.  My first instinct was to assume she had run away but then my eyes caught a cheesy-orange colored cat sitting on my bed, purring.  My legs almost buckled beneath me with joy.  I gently sat on the bed next to her and stayed as still as possible, not taking my eyes of her as I waited for her next move.  She gave her tummy a short-lived bath, stood up and stretched her all fours in what seemed like a great relief to her, and coyly moseyed onto my lap. Then she looked up at me and, with her big giant grateful eyes, she thanked me for saving her life.  It was the most precious moment of my life.

Pasha has an amazing foster dad but has been up for adoption for too long—she is perfect!

Pasha has an amazing foster dad but has been up for adoption for too long—she is perfect!

Of course I kept Velveeta. I mean, come on.  However, she and the experience of rescuing her rocked my world to its core and completely changed my life. I knew I couldn’t save every stray cat that walked the streets because, sadly, there are millions of them and one of me. But there was a viable in between, which was fostering.

Since rescuing Velveeta I have fostered dozens upon dozens of cats over the last several years.  I am a teacher, a nice career, but when people ask me what I do for a living I tell them I foster stray cats until they find a forever home. They tell me I’m amazing for it and I smile, because I actually benefit from fostering as much as the kitties do.

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