On Tuesday I was officially approved to be a foster caretaker for the local animal shelter. I'll be getting cats only - maybe, hopefully, a batch of tiny just-born kittens, now that "kitten season" is coming up.
I was partially inspired by this hilarious article from the Cracked website (warning: a few swear words), and partially inspired by some events that had happened in my own life recently. Whatever the reason, promoting growth and development to those not biologically related to me seems to run in my family, and I thought I'd give it a go.
My father was an "unofficial" foster parent for decades, hanging around with troubled boys in our neighborhood, running camps, YMCAs, etc., helping kids whose own families had given up on them. Later in his life he became an "official" foster parent, and was planning to adopt his foster son when he (my father) unfortunately died too young. I don't know that all my father's methods of care were exactly kosher, but I know he really did care, and I think I inherited that. I just don't want to have to pay for anyone's college education, so I'm sticking with cats and not children.
Pebbles is finally happy in our new home, being the only animal for once, and no, I haven't broken the news to her yet. I'm hoping that now that life is better for us and she feels safer, she will forgive me and maybe even do a little fostering herself. At least I certainly hope so, because I'd rather her nurse the kittens and clean their gross regions than having to do it myself.
Whether I get a brand new litter of bottle-fed babies or an old cranky shelter maven, I am looking forward to the adventure. I am not looking forward to saying goodbye to them. Last year, a kitten ran up to the door as I was walking in the house, crying for help. I only took care of him for one night, and I still think about him a lot and wonder if I should have kept him (after a stay at the shelter and some foster care for socialization, he found a good home).
One thing that resounds in my ears is what the shelter representative told me to do in case one of the babies doesn't survive (it happens a lot): "Put it in a Ziplog baggie and stick it in the freezer until you can take it to the shelter." Ugh. But however they leave me, I'll be sad. If I get kittens, I'll be aggravated that they keep me up at night playing. I'll complain about the smell of the litterbox. I'll probably claim to be happy they're leaving. But I won't be.
It's a huge commitment to volunteer to care for and be responsible for a living creature. It's an even bigger one to volunteer to do it only temporarily.