I’ve always been an animal lover, and I’ve always had cats. Actually, to be honest, I’ve always been a magnet for cats. I couldn’t tell you the number of stray, feral, or abandoned cats I’ve encountered in my lifetime. I always seem to find them (or they always seem to find me). Up until recently, I’ve been unable to really do too much for these cats. I fed a small feral group, I snuggled with (and fed) stray kittens, I took an abandoned cat to the vet for vaccinations, and, of course, I adopted 2 cats of my own (the maximum allowed by my apartment complex).
I also tried to volunteer with rescue organizations as often as I could, but life always seemed to get in the way of it becoming a regular part of my life. Still, I tried to get involved when I could, and that is exactly what I was doing when I showed up to volunteer at my first HART adoption event in February 2013.
The event began smoothly enough. I helped haul and set up tables and crates for adoptable kitties. I put small litter boxes in each crate. I smiled, greeted, and shook hands. I felt really good; I knew I was doing something worthwhile for cats in need, and I was proud to be part of the team that day.
And then, the warm fuzzies wore off. A girl arrived toting 2 middle-aged cats she was looking to re-home since their family was moving. A man arrived to drop off 2 of his cats that he wanted to re-home. A woman tapped on my shoulder to ask if we could help her “get rid of” her cat. And, amidst all of this, the HART coordinator informed us that 2 cats had been abandoned in a crate in front of the Petsmart the night before, making this the second time in 2 weeks that someone had dumped their cats in front of the store.
At this point, it had gotten a lot harder to smile. We were all wringing our hands trying to figure out what to do about the abandoned cats. I offered to pay for vet care, but the hard truth was that money for vet care was the least of our worries: unless we could find a place for these 2 cats, they would have to be taken to the county shelter. And then we got even worse news: the female was pregnant.
At this point, I had reached a crossroads. Honestly, for me, it was a lot easier to open my wallet than it was for me to consider opening my home. I said over and over again “my fiance will kill me!” but, really, that was just an excuse because I was afraid of what taking in a cat could mean for me and my schedule. I knew it would mean inconvenience. I knew it could mean an extra mouth to feed for months. What if the cats had issues? Didn’t use a litterbox? Yowled at all hours of the night?
And then, a hero stepped up.
When another volunteer and her mother said that they would take in the pregnant female cat (despite the fact that they had MANY pets of their own), I knew what I had to do if I was really going to be serious about helping out. I called my fiance, and he agreed. We decided to take on our first foster cat.
The Petsmart vet clinic told us that the cats put up a fight when they handled them. We were scared that they might be feral and, for a few minutes, I nearly backed out. We brought the crate back to the cat room and opened it up, not sure what was going to happen.
Slowly, we lured the cats out one at a time. They were very skinny, scratched up, and terrified. The female came out first. The moment we touched her, she purred and rubbed on our hands, soaking up the attention. Relief! She was friendly! But, the male hung back.
We weren’t sure if he’d bite or scratch. He wouldn’t budge for the longest time. At the time, he had a harness/leash wrapped around his neck (something Banfield uses to help handle animals). Finally, I just slowly reached in and removed the harness from around him. And then…he came out.
Skin and bones and cat pee stink. That’s all he was, and my heart broke instantly. I cried, he rubbed all over my hand, purring and purring and purring. Both of these cats were the most loving animals I think I’ve ever encountered. I turned to the coordinator and said “oh, he’s never going to leave my house, I can tell!” But she reminded me that that wasn’t the plan: he would find a forever home. I knew she was right; this little cat was not mine for forever… but he was mine for now, and man oh man was I going to love the stuffing right out of him while he stayed with me! She asked me if I wanted to name him, and I decided to name him Chance because, that day, he had gotten his chance at a new life.
I’m pretty sure that I was hooked on fostering the moment that stinky kitty crawled out of that carrier. But, if I wasn’t hooked that moment, I was certainly hooked over the week that followed.
After he was neutered, Chance came to stay with me. That first 24 hours, I worried constantly about him. He drank more water than I’ve ever seen a cat drink, but it took him 24 hours to finally use the litterbox. He must’ve been running on empty when he came to us.
Oh how I wanted to know this little guy’s story. He kept looking up at me with these big, wide eyes as if to say “is this real?” And I was hooked over and over again. It really seemed like he couldn’t get enough of us. He climbed into my lap, leaned back like a baby, and begged for belly rubs and chin scratches. If I moved, he moved…as if constantly afraid I would leave him and it would all be over.
If I stood up, he came running and would stand up and walk on his hind feet trying to get more and more pets out of my hand. If I sat down, he was instantly in my lap.
This little, no-longer stinky cat is what got me into this fostering thing 😉 and, at this point, I have no desire to get out. It was all started by chance, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a coincidence. In fact, I’m positive that it was meant to be.
Chance will (hopefully) soon find his forever home; his story will go on to its happy ending, and my story will continue with a new foster. Until then, I’ll let him tell his story here as he awaits his forever.