Fostering Animals, or Tales of a Broken Heart

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.

photo of grey and white tabby kitten laying on a carpeted pet house
Yeah, because I could say no to the face. Right.

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.

Two orange tiger stripe kittens curled up on the counter on top of paper towels
They pulled the paper towels out themselves to make a bed. Heaven forbid they sleep on cold counter tops.
two orange tiger kittens hiding behind a wine rack, one resting it's chin on the rack
Wine anyone?

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:

photo of Jon with an orange tabby and tiger kitten wrapped around his neck wearing an awesome Storm Trooper Dio De Los Muertos shirt
Exhibit A
photo of Jon with grey tabby and orange tabby kittens wrapped around his neck
Make whatever sassy face you want to, bro. This is still Exhibit B. No one here is buying your bullshit.
Jon nuzzling a grey tiger kitten with his nose
Yeah. He hates it.
Exhibit C. I rest my case.

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.

one grey and two orange tiger kittens piled on top of each other spilling out of a cat house
Little drunks


grey tiger, tabby and orange tiger piled on top of one another on top of cat house
Kitten Pile!!!

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).

photo of Kym with pool of blood in her ear from kitten bath wars


6 thoughts on “Fostering Animals, or Tales of a Broken Heart”

  1. Oh, you’re wonderful. You and your newly pierced ear. We are the proud new owners of Roadkill MacHobbes, Mach for short. He even has his own Facebook page, dedicated to the cuteness of kittens and animal rights/rescue. I’ll link your article to his page.

    Oh, and Mach came into our lives nearly 3 weeks ago, uninvited. He was a special delivery by our son and daughter-in-law, because he had been found in the middle of a frontage road near I-5. They were planning to take him to the pound. Or so they said. My husband, who NEVER wants me to take in more animals, decided to keep the wee beastie, much to the chagrin of my perfectly wonderful cat.

    Life with animals is never boring, but it’s always blessed.

  2. When Roombas Attack is a classic post. This post struck a chord especially because yesterday I had to call the Humane Society on my neighbours across the street. A consortium of three different neighbours, my fam included, have been feeding one of their three cats that they ‘took in’ and promptly began neglecting. One passed away in yet another neighbour’s yard, one is unaccounted for, and this other one is so lovely and friendly but is scarily thin and has some scabbing under her chest. The HS has opened an investigation and will try to pick her up- in the meantime, the next time I see her I’mma try to catch her and take her to Animal Services as a stray. No cats dying on my street allowed.

    We are staunch rescue-cat people in my family. I wish all other people who adopted were as good and caring as you, Kym.

  3. I used to foster and also would get super sad whenever the little ones went to their forever homes. You are doing a great thing though!
    I can sympathize with the kittens in the hole story. One time, my roommate at the time got one of her feral kittens stuck in the baseboards. It took about five hours to get that adorable little asshole to emerge. Another time, one of my foster kittens somehow got the vent off of the heating duct and climbed in. He ended up falling about 10 feet and spent about an hour in there as we tried to get him out. He was totally fine, albeit covered in dirt, but i nearly had a heart attack.

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