As I have mentioned before, I am a sucker for homeless animals. All someone has to say is, “They are going to the pound,” and I swoop in and take them.
We do not have a large house. It’s not tiny, around 1400 sq. ft., but it doesn’t lend itself to housing a menagerie of little beasts. I prefer city living, but my husband would like to move out to the country so we can have more land so he can build a shop to work on his sculptures. As much as I love animals, I do not love nature. I don’t do bugs, mice freak me the fuck out, and goodness only knows what would happen if I ever found a snake in my house. The compromise we have come to is that I will move to the country if I get to keep foster animals, hordes of kitties and puppies to fend off the vermin from getting near me. As it stands now, however, we don’t have the room for many foster animals. That doesn’t mean I am reasonable and don’t take them in, it just means we don’t have room.
The last batch of five kittens we had were baby-gated in the kitchen. Thank goodness no cooking happens in there or it would have been exceptionally inconvenient. You really don’t realize how often you go in and out of certain spaces until you are required to fiddle with or climb over a baby gate. It gets real old, real quick. I also never realized how quickly five kittens could tear shit up. While they all used the litter box religiously, they seemed to have contests with one another to see who could spray the most kitty litter over the floor. Sweeping the kitchen became an hourly chore. At meal times, even though there was more than enough food for all of them, some still found it necessary to stand inside the bowl while they ate, just to make sure nobody could take it away. Their need to stand inside their bowl of kitten milk led to lovely little white sticky paw prints all over the floor. And while they had a cat house, a box, and a bed to sleep on, for some of them, that just wasn’t enough.
For the first few days, they were pretty skittish little buggers. They actually managed to tear away a piece of wood blocking a hole under the cabinets(which I had blocked up the last time we had fosters), allowing them to crawl underneath the cabinets where I couldn’t get them out. It took me four hours of patient waiting, playing statue, and using my own cat-like reflexes to finally get them all out so I could block the holes back up. Everyday we gave them “people therapy,” snuggling and holding them to get them used to being loved. Jon pretends like he hates it when I bring home random animals, but I submit the following evidence to prove that is crap:
Every time he had a few minutes to relax on his recliner, he’d ask me to “bring him a kitten or two for some snuggles.” Big ol’ softy.
I didn’t bring any of these kittens home to keep. Honestly and truly, though Jon never believes me when I say it, I don’t want any more animals right now. I have one asshole cat, Spike, who, while he is a total cuddly love bug and whore for attention, is also a dickbag who pees and shits on things I hold dear (please see “When Roombas Attack” for further discussion of this). Our other cat, The Kitten (who weighs 17 pounds), is such a scaredy cat that clearing my throat can cause her to gouge open my skin as she flees, terrified, from my lap, so she is a lot of work. And then my pup, my wonderful, perfect, most fabulous little Lola in the whole wide world, who is the loviest lovey that ever loved, who is the light of my life, but still needs me to cut dingleberries out of her ass hair more often than I care to share. They all require time and attention, and they get less of that when there are fosters in the house. So, even though I brought them home with no intention of keeping any of them, how is it that I wept like a little baby as each went to their forever home? How did I let myself get so attached so quickly to the little terrors that it crushed me to watch each of them go? Mind you, I do not let animals go home with just anyone off the street. I know and love the people they all went home with, and I know they will have wonderful lives full of warm laps, cozy beds, and loving owners. I can’t use the excuse of uncertainty for my tears. I texted Jon after I put the last two in the car of their new owners and told him I couldn’t stop crying. He texted back, “Why do you keep doing this to yourself?” and I replied, “Because I can’t help myself!!”
So yes, fostering kittens, for me, is an exercise in constant heartbreak. As much as I would like to say this last batch taught me a lesson in how hard it is to watch them go, I would just be lying. I can’t help myself. I’m never going to learn. I am never going to stop.
Post script: One lesson I DID learn with this group – even though they are small and I thought I could control them enough to give them baths, not so much. I only tried with two, and the first went swimmingly, no problems at all, kitten was totally chill. The second kitten, the orange tabby, freaked the fuck out, scaled my arm and neck and ended up with his claw caught in my EAR as I screamed, he frantically tried to yank it out, and Jon came running. By the time he got there, the claw was out of my ear, I was sobbing over the sink, and Jon was cracking up. CRACKING up. So, the lesson I learned from them was this: giving kittens a bath is a two person job, getting a cat claw to the ear hurts so bad you will burst into tears, and finally, my husband is a dick (okay, not really, but still! Yes, giving cats a bath is kind of asking for pain, and he did make sure I hadn’t lost an eye or anything before he started laughing, but still).
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