My Cat Fostering Fail

I hate failing….. failing really gets under my skin. Don’t get me wrong I fail on a regular basis, in fact I’m pretty much an expert at it.
Hey if you don’t fail sometimes you’re not going to know the joy of success (or that’s what I tell myself). It stings but you learn from it, grow stronger and move forward. This time though I’m happy with my major fail, and to top it there’s not even a sting attached. 

The first rule I gave myself when I started this foster journey was “love and care for the cats with all your heart but don’t become so attached that you can’t let them go!” 

Yep, you’ve got it, I broke the rule and totally fell in love with Darwin. I became completely utterly and totally attached to him. 
After spending several months with my traumatised cat helping him overcome his fears on a daily basis, gaining his trust and pushing his boundaries little by little, he had me.

I watched him make hesitant steps forward at first, until he had grown in confidence and actually enjoyed our company, owned some space and relaxed around us. He worked his own special cat magic on me. Lets face it they all have it, they just choose whether to turn it on or not!

Every time I thought of him moving somewhere new and having to go through the whole process again it broke my heart.

Darwin lying on the table looking up at me with big friendly eyes

But it’s never that easy. I knew he had a bond with us which was growing stronger each day and my heart had already said yes yes yes you can stay with us forever…..then my head kicked in there were other important issues to be considered before making a commitment on what was best for both me and Darwin.

So what I needed to seriously consider…….


Yes this is a big one. Can you actually afford it. How much can that cute little kitty cost? It’s only small after all……unfortunately those pesky costs mount up and being forewarned is being forearmed as they say.
So here’s what to mull over while you are making your decision. 

There are essentials that will need a visit to the vets every year. Initial vaccinations are required followed by boosters then worming and flea treatments every three months. These are the basics which honestly should not be skipped. In addition it’s wise to consider pet insurance as even indoor cats can suffer illness or have accidents. Vet bills can escalate quickly, and usually need to be paid at the time of treatment. 

Obvious I know, but it can be more expensive than you imagine especially if your cat has, or develops an illness requiring a special diet. Choosing the correct food for your cat is important for your cats health.
Darwin has food for indoor cats as it has a lower carb percentage which is important for to help avoid obesity. 

Cat accessories
Toys, cat beds, litter trays, cat litter and scratch posts. You don’t need to go totally overboard but helps your cat feel more secure and happy if they have their own place to sleep. I admit I may have gone a little over the top. Darwin has his own bed in almost every room, even the utility!!!

Darwin curled up in his soft pink cushion bed

It just means no matter how full the house is he can still feel comfortable and secure especially with his nervous nature. 
Cat posts are also an absolute essential for the sake of your sanity. If they haven’t got a place to scratch they’re going to find their own! It will probably be the last thing you want them to choose as my sofa will testify after both owning and fostering a lot of cats (and this was with scratch posts)

If you get the scratch posts up before they attack your furniture they are less likely to migrate to it later. The posts are more attractive to them. Each time they scratch not only do they improve the health of their claws but they excrete pheromones to mark their territory.
It’s their nature, there’s no stopping it. Give them plenty of scratch posts dotted around the home and there will be no need for them to wreak havoc. 

Toys are not so bad, you can get really inventive. Not every thing has to be shop bought. Darwin loves bottle caps and corks, paper bags and in fact anything he can knock over with his paw then chase. It’s great fun lining things up on the table then watching him discover them for the first time. 
Wands I usually buy as when he attacks these….. he really attacks them, with no holding back. For safety, I need them to be strong. 
Toys that can be filled with catnip are also invaluable. If your cat is a catnip junkie like Darwin they will have loads of fun hunting them down and tossing them about.

Cats are clever creatures and get bored easily so finding a fresh supply of toys to play with and interesting ways to engage with them will avoid behavioural problems.

Time, Lifestyle and Commitment

OK I’m putting it out there right now that cats are not as independent as they are made out to be. Yes they have what we perceive as aloofness and they are very capable of fending for themselves if they have to. They may not even appear to need us for very much, but anyone that has a loved feline friend will be able to tell you they really do need company, affection and a connection to those caring for them. This goes far beyond a pet when you feel like it and feeding them twice a day. 
Ferrals live in colonies they are not solitary creatures. They form strong loving ties with their companions and deep relationships. Their emotion health will therefore depend on you giving this, especially if you have a cat on it’s own or a house cat. This will take time every day, so if you are hardly ever at home and enjoy going away every weekend you may want to think on how you will accommodate your cats emotional needs or if indeed a cat is the right companion for you. 

I watched an amazing video the other day. A couple that were travelling the USA had come upon a stray cat who just adopted them. When it was time to leave they said goodbye to her and left.
5 hours later they realised they had made a terrible decision and turned around and drove 5 hours back, and there was the cat waiting for them. She jumped straight into their camper van and now travels around with them happily everywhere they go. 
It was pretty amazing! I don’t know many cats that would be happy with it but all cats are different. 

Darwin would be totally freaked out……he doesn’t even step outside…..nope he sits on the step and says “that’s a step too far and looks pretty terrifying to me….I’m just going back in now…see you later” which is fine by me as I live on a main road so had to consider this when adopting him, he was going to have to be a house cat unless we could make the garden a safe, escape free zone (which I’m working on for the summer…..not sure yet if its possible, but where there’s a will there’s a way).

Is Your Home Safe?

Pretty much like having children you need to have a safe environment, especially if it’s a kitten, they honestly get into the tiniest spaces as I found out when I recently fostered kittens. At one point one managed to get behind a bookshelf that I could barely squeeze my hand into, in search of an air vent leading to the big outdoors, She just sniffed it out and was on her way!!!

Cats will also eat the strangest things and some seem to have a strange love for chewing plastic bags ……not great for the digestion and in the worst cases can lead to surgery.
There are also plant lovers that will munch their way through all of your houseplants, a lot of which are toxic to them.

A bunch of yellow and pink tulips, one of the toxic plants for cats

I could go on and on, there are so many things to look out for but doing a little research then doing an assessment you can make sure your kitty will have the safest environment to flourish.

Does your cat have the right temperament

Every cat will have their own peculiarities. Are they nervous, brave, openly affectionate and loving or more reserved. How will this gel with your personality and family life? 
From a very early age you can pick up, by just spending a couple of hours with them, an idea of what their personality is.

I have over the last few months fostered 3 kittens.

Mabli the calico kitten snuggling between two cushions

Each equally gorgeous but very different. One crazy active but super affectionate sweetie, Mabli, who definitely was already trying to escape outside at every opportunity (including the bookcase incident). One lap kitten who just loved crawling onto your lap and staying there for hours and one who loved attention was very affectionate but only when he fancied it.

Some cats love family life and can cope with a busy home with children, some need a quiet peaceful life, some need access to the outdoors, some are more than happy being a house cat. Finding the right fit will lead to a happy and contented life for both you and your new family member.

That really is some checklist. I went through everyone of them and made the joyous decision that YES Darwin was our perfect fit.

So where’s Darwin at now?

Well, I’m happy to say he’s coming on beautifully.

I work from home most of the time and he spends his days following me around wherever I go. If I make a coffee he jumps on the table to help me fill the kettle, if I’m on the computer he sprawls right next to me, he even has an input to my art work my artwork by gently nudging the pen or brush across the paper….. yes, this I could do without but what can I do…….. he thinks he’s helping!

Darwin sitting on the table on top my artwork

 When I sleep he curls on the chair at the end of my bed and I wake in the morning to find him staring intently at me. I can’t lie it freaked me out the first time it happened, his stare was so intense. I love it now, it’s as though he watches over me as I sleep.
He will lay on the sofa next to me but hasn’t found the courage to snuggle on my lap yet. I’m working on it though and tempting him with cat treats which seems to be going o.k.

Yep he’s doing just fine! He still has a way to go as he hides when anyone comes around, but he’s getting better at approaching strangers if they give him space and time to adjust to them.

He’s my buddy and I honestly couldn’t imagine being without him. 
Being the crazy cat lady that I am, I talk to him constantly, which is not crazy in itself, it’s just that I’m sure he totally understands me (every single word and sometimes maybe even my thoughts!) and me him. 

Life with Darwin just keeps getting better!

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