Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Making the Mature Decision Really Sucks

A little over a month ago, I found a litter of three kittens. The mom of these kittens is the same one responsible for many litters and has evaded all attempts at trapping. Luckily, she lives within eyesight of their feeding place and I found these babies when they were still young enough. After finding this litter, I started making phone calls to see who could take them and foster them until they are tame enough and get them good homes. All the organizations that have taken kittens from me before were up to their eyeballs in kittens and I was turned down by all of them. As a last ditch resort, I posted a message on my university's list server and I got a bite. A really nice woman whose fiance just got her into doing cat rescue after growing up in a kitty foster home. The couple is very nice and they agreed to take the three kittens and try to socialize them. If they were too old to be socialized, they could live as ferals in their large back yard. It seems like whenever I feel I am at the end of the rope with this cat thing, more caring, generous people come forward and help.

It was during one of the first attempts at trapping these kittens that we found Dixie and her sibling. Dixie went easily into the trap. I've seen her sibling only twice since, and Dean has seen it once. Unfortunately, I have little hope at this point of getting to it in time for it to be properly socialized. After trapping Dixie I was freaking out not knowing what to do with her. I explained the new situation to the foster lady who still agreed to take her. As you all know by now, in the meantime my mom and step dad decided they couldn't live without her, and subsequently Dixie spent two and a half weeks at our home. After successfully (I think, mom may disagree!) socializing her and becoming very attached to her, I flew her up with me to Minneapolis for Christmas and handed her over. It was a perfect situation, I got to stay with her (and my parents) while adjustments were made, and I'm ecstatic knowing I get to see her often and watch her grow. And she is doing fantastic. But still, it was tough.

In the meantime, about a week into fostering Dixie we trapped the first of the three. She is hard to describe so I will show a picture:

A friend of a friend was interested in taking one of my kittens, so I called him and we tried to work something out. The good news was that he had experience with ferals and was willing to take her and tame her himself, which would have been necessary since I was about to leave for the holidays. The bad news was his girlfriend wasn't quite ready for a kitty. In the meantime, this little one stayed with us a couple days before I drove her across town to her foster home. She is doing great. But giving her up kinda sucked.

The night before leaving for Minneapolis, we caught the second of the three. A brown tabby (he looked just like Wrigley as a baby) but I was in too much of a hurry to take a photo of him. I dropped him off at the same foster home late that night. He currently has a home waiting for him after he gets just a little more people-friendly. I'm very happy about that, no mixed feelings.

There was still one more kitten out there which Heather and her boyfriend tried trapping several times while I was away. I was concerned he was getting a little too old to be socialized, but I remembered the foster couple's willingness to try hard and keep them if they didn't warm up. Dean and I kept a close eye on him while feeding and over the weeks I was gone and after I got back. Dean fell in love with this little one's spunkiness, watching it run around in the wilderness and attacking unsuspecting adult cats. I have to admit the little bugger grew on me too. I tried trapping it Friday and Saturday. Sunday I finally trapped him, a little "cow kitty":

I called the foster couple anticipating bringing him over Sunday night. They didn't return my call. I didn't know if I had upset them or if they didn't want to give me bad news about the other kittens. I was about out of my mind. In the meantime, we kept the kitty in the bathroom, and subsequently socialized him a little. By yesterday he was sitting in my lab, rubbing up against my face and eager to play with our grown up cats. Unfortunately, they didn't like him very much so we had to keep the poor little guy separated. Yesterday we had resigned ourselves to keeping him since he was too old for other rescue groups and the foster people were seemingly avoiding me. It was literally while we were picking out names for him that we got the call that the foster couple could take him.

That was rough. I asked Dean if he wanted to tell them no and keep the kitten anyway. It wasn't a matter of wanting to, it was making a mature decision. We knew we could have taken on another kitty, one that needed a home and was all out of options. But it was clear, this one was going to do just fine. The foster couple would love him, and I am confident if they are willing to give him up, someone will adopt him in no time.

Alas, ours is the home for wayward cats. We adopted Nellie because she was dumped either right before or right after having a litter of kittens. People adopted her cute little babies, but moms don't go as fast. Wrigley came to us before the Tampa Bay Humane Society changed their policy to no-kill for space. We couldn't roll the dice on him and didn't know about the other great rescue organizations here. And Allison was a black cat (typically the toughest to adopt out) in another unfriendly shelter. So we'll stay that way, and be here when needed. But in the meantime, let me just summarize. In the last month we've taken in this:

and this:

and this:

They came. They stayed. They moved on. And our hearts broke just a little.


Jackie said...

ok, the cow cat? Totally has a heart on his back!

Too cute, that guy would have been hard to give up!

Being grown up sucks sometimes!!

Hot4Teacha said...

Oh Nat! You guys are such good people with such big hearts!! I would have died a little inside to give them up, too - being grownup is a lot of work and sucks often, huh?

Le Petit Chic said...

You are truly inspiring...what you do for these cats is give them a second chance at life and that is amazing :)

anne said...

I was all ready to call Magoo and tell him we were taking home a cat (Ginger loves cats?!?!?!). So I am a little *sad* they found good homes too. But really what you do for them is INCREDIBLE. I can't imagine.

magnetbabe said...

Thanks, ladies! It definitely isn't easy, and often it is downright heartbreaking. We know we are doing the right thing and giving them a chance to have long, cushy, safe lives. But the couple days we have them are the worst. They are scared of people, separated from their moms and siblings, not used to the indoors (and usually not litter trained yet either!). I spent most of yesterday cursing our tiny apartment. If it weren't for size, we'd be up to about 6 or 7!

Minnesotablue said...

If any of the kitties have a life now as good as Dixies, you have really done a great job

Dianne said...

I'm so glad you posted this - when you made the comment over at my place about renting a car to move some cats I just KNEW you were a rescue super hero.

I love the cow cat, reminds me of my sweet Sheba - she passed on after 13 years. She was a rescue, as is every cat I've ever lived with.

I have not been able to do as much trapping as I used to - my back goes out a lot. I did just find a small group in a nearby town where I can help foster and socilaize - and when I find the one who gets along with Siren they can stay.

My life long dream is to win Lotto and have a huge farm for all the lovely creatures out there who just need a place to snuggle.

Oh - I knew I liked you! Keep on.

Jeni said...

Well, you8 already know that Mandy and I both fell in love too with little Dixie but were very happy that your Mom did too. The other two pictured here -cow cat especially - there is something in the eyes that just beseeches you - "love me, hold me, keep me." So pretty! And to echo what everyone else here has said, what you and Dean are doing is truly awesome work and very worthwhile -especially when you know you've found loving "cushy" homes for these poor little kittens to adapt to and live out their lives -hopefully, all in the lap of luxury, huh?

Scott said...

All I can keep thinking is what a burden it must be to care so much for these little guys. It would be too much for me.

magnetbabe said...

Yay, another crazy cat lady! I could tell from your site you supported cat rescue efforts, but had no idea you have done trapping and fostering. What a saint you are, like I said above I think fosters get the worst of it. Keep up the good work!

If you sift through my archives, you can read all about the adventures I've had with these guys.

Dianne said...

Yay for crazy cat (and all other creatures) ladies!

I have been sifting through your archives and will continue to do so. I have to find the time to put some rescue site links on my blog - I'm still a bit pathetic at layout and html but I learn a bit more each day. If only I didn't have to work - my blog would be so wonderful.

Have a great weekend crazy cat lady!

fermicat said...

That is a parade of cuteness! The spotted kitty is so unusual. You are doing the right thing and it is gratifying to hear about them getting good homes. You miss them because you care, and that isn't a bad thing at all - just hurts is all.

hhboots said...

You are an inspiration...
You need to be on Animal Planet!

Beth said...

All the cats I've owned were strays. Sometimes you just can't help it, but you must have a huge cat heart. Nearing my 40's, I just wouldn't take another one in and if I did, my husband would probably kill me. Good for you and for your guy!