My husband thought I was nuts, he told me it was going to be "my thing" and he wanted no part. Being me, I did it anyway.
A childhood friend with a huge heart got herself into animal rescue. She put out an SOS on Facebook in need of foster home for kittens. The job description? Love on a couple cute balls of fluff until they are big enough to get fixed and find forever families. This seemed like the perfect gig; all the kitten loves with none of the cat ownership.
I will never forget our first litter. My friend brought us two fluffy balls of orange fur. I am not sure God has ever created anything as heart melting as 4 week old orange kittens. My tough talking husband was smitten, my daughters in love. We loved our month with those babies, and while we were sad to see them go, we felt we had done a good thing for the world in assisting those babies in finding there forever home.
Not all rescue stories are this happy.
The thing about rescue is you don't get to pick. You are the very last chance for most animal coming your way. They greet you malnourished, traumatized, sick and alone. Many have hearts strong enough to bounce back and they become some of the worlds most amazing pets. Like my friends rescue says, the best things in life are rescued, but the stories are not all happy endings.
I have watched many a litter removed from a mama too soon, who just can't seem to thrive on goat milk or kitten formula. They waste away, too tired, too sick, and too weak to fight anymore. Kitten mortality is high with healthy cats, and these are not even granted that gift at birth.
Sometime having to say goodbye comes as a surprise. This was the case with Evie.
I got the call on an afternoon a couple of weeks ago. A small, dark gray kitten needed a second chance or would be put down by that afternoon. Of course, we said yes. She came to us thin and hungry, still not quite big enough to figure out eating from a dish. She was fed warm milk and thinned cat food from a spoon until she mastered the bowl.
Despite being fed several times a day, being loved on, snuggled, and carried around like a furry baby doll, Evie wasn't growing. Her ribs could be felt through her fur, she didn't want to play. We wondered if she missed her litter, and the only way she would eat was with encouragement.
Hoping a few buddies might boost her moral, we took on a rolly polly litter of 4. The difference between the kittens was drastic, they were high energy with round little bellies and LOUD cries if they felt they had gone too long without snuggles. Evie had to be encouraged to drink warm milk,
On Tuesday, Matt held Evie, wrapped in a warm blanket as she took her last breath. Her face and eye were distorted on one side and we will never know what it was she was fighting. We couldn't save this little ball of fluff, her story didn't have a happy ending with a forever family.
Days like that I just want to quit. And then I hear the emphatic meow's coming from downstairs. The other 4 kittens, begging for loves, whos whole bodies vibrate with purrrrrrrr's as you pick them up.
I watched Eliana reading her book with a kitten the other day. The kitten didn't appreciate her divided attention and kept sitting on the pages meowing or trying to bit Elianas nose and lips. He pounced on her long hair and burrowed down her shirt until she finally put the book down and gave him his undivided attention. He purrrred his pleasure and feel promptly asleep in her arms.
I remember the mama cat who liked to hide her litter of kittens in my shoes in the closet. Or the mama who brought her 4 kittens into Matt's lap every morning to nurse them while he drank his coffee. I remember the ones who play chase around the living room and wait at the bottom of the stairs to attack your feet. The ones who sleep in our laps, purr on our shoulders and prefer to eat from our hands.
And I decide it isn't time to quit just yet. I don't choose how these stories end, that is left to Someone far above my pay-grade. I only get to decide on how a single chapter in this story looks, the one where they come in our home. They are loved, held, fed, doctored to the best of our ability and held with open hands.