Friday, June 10, 2016

We can't keep them all


Being a cat blogger, I read other cat blogs. Being a foster mom, I read other foster blogs. Like you I really enjoy getting to know other people's cats and kittens and my heart breaks when a particular favorite of mine either passes away or is adopted out.  But unlike a lot of people, I will never tell a foster family they 'have to keep' a kitten.

Lena
I've been on the receiving end of it in the past. There was a lot of chatter a few years ago about my keeping Lena.  In a perfect world I would love to own her, but then again I would have also have loved to own Isaac Arnold (you have no idea) and Smed, and Maxwell and Faraday, and Tawny and .. and.. and.. Those of us who care for the homeless always want to give them a home, but we are usually smart enough to know our limits even as we walk right past them. I can totally understand the need to say how awesome it would be if a foster home kept this kitty or that, it can sometimes be overwhelming too; we know we can't and we are already suffering from the guilt of not being able to keep them all. Imagine also how it feels to be told you should keep an animal you love and knowing you can't. It can feel downright mean to say no, and explain no, when all you want to do is say yes and know you can't.

Isaac Arnold
I know my limits. I live in a house with one husband and seven cats. There are two full-time jobs between us and most of said seven cats are VERY needy. There are very few moments that one or both of us is not covered in multiple cats.  We are both very happy to 'put up with' said neediness - heck, I created it didn't I - but that means that there are times when one cat or more wants cuddle time and they can't have it because there isn't a lap to be had.  Sometimes they come anyway and squabbles ensue and hurt feelings happen (or an abscess).  Adding another snuggly kitten to this mix would not be a good idea. On top of that, I know my financial limitations. I felt I had to have a fundraiser to help with Jack's I131 treatment and I was only able to raise half of what I spent at Angell, and then there are his many recent trips to the emergency clinic. There are several other cats who need to have their teeth looked after on a regular basis as well as semi-annual bloodwork on the elder cats.. basically, what I'm saying is I know there is a financial obligation to owning pets beyond the adoption fee. For these reasons, among others, I do not see myself adding to my household at the very least until after Jack passes, and he has promised me to live for another 20 years..

Chandler
The biggest challenge of fostering is learning that you can not keep them all. They are yours to love and care for and teach and train and open them up to the joys of living with people, but they are not your forever kitties. One foster mom likened it to teaching kindergarten.. you love them while they are with you, but they will move on. This is a good thing they will bring love and joy to so many people out there like Odilia did or Isaac Arnold and Smed or Maxwell and Ducky.. not to mention Peanut/Treads and a few dozen others out of the hundreds that I think of from time to time.

I can not keep them all. I can't even keep one a year, and I can't even keep all the ones that get a claw inside my heart.. the ones that really hurt to let go. But really, if it didn't hurt to let them go then I shouldn't be fostering. It is 'part of the job' and I accept that pain is part of it because I know how much good it does. It helps the cats, it helps me, it helps the shelter, it helps the new owners, and in a roundabout way it helps you.. (because... kittens). Keeping more kitties would mean I wouldn't be able to foster.

Odilia
I have hope that a home through social media will appear for my kittens and I will be able to watch them grow, but a kitten does not need to be here in the physical sense in order for my love for them to continue.

I also know I am not the only one who fosters or rescues who has fallen in love with a kitty and had people chiming in that the kitty should be kept. I KNOW this is said with the absolute best intentions and with love but - and I say this with love and respect to those of you out there that have done this not knowing - it can be overwhelming.  We do love these kittens, we really don't want to give them up, but we know that doing so is in the best interest of the kitty.  The thought has crossed our minds, we have wrestled with it, and we respect our own limitations knowing that keeping 'just one more' would upset a delicate balance in our lives it could harm not only the kitty by not giving it the best life possible, but our resident pets who would have to deal with yet another interloper sleeping in the good spots and eating the food and competing for treats, and ourselves because we know we put ourselves in this position emotionally and financially.

When you are tempted to ask someone who rescues why they aren't keeping a particular animal, please first ask yourself why you aren't adopting another pet. Chances are all the same reasons apply and a few others.


25 comments:

  1. Very well said... love the "kindergarden" analogy, it is so true.

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  2. I wondered about this when I saw several people comment on another foster's page that the foster should keep this one kitten she'd invested so much time and energy in ("I completely support a foster fail" ... "I see a foster fail coming" ...). I've seen this elsewhere too. There was a guy in California who was part of a rescue group and never gave up on a kitten trapped in a pipe. After the rescue, there were a bunch of comments about how he "has to" adopt the kitten and how it was too sweet for him not to keep the kitten. I've gotten similar things on my page - people telling me I should adopt another cat for one reason or another. All of these felt wrong to me - though I'm not entirely sure why. I'm so glad you wrote this because I was struggling with the comments on my own page and feeling bad for not living up to others' expectations or feeling like I failed or am doing something wrong because other people question my choices which are based on taking the responsibility very seriously. I can't imagine what it's like for you. I feel stupid for even comparing the situations. I know people mean well, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt or overwhelm or frustrate. Only we know our limits or what they are really asking of us.

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    1. never feel bad for being frustrated when others think they have the right (or obligation or whatever) to tell you how THEY think you should live or what you should do. you know your situation....and how best to live YOUR life.

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  3. My human would never insist that a foster should keep a loved kitten or cat - because that's not the purpose of fostering. There are times when we have fallen in love with a foster and really, really hoped that whoever adopts her will post about her on Facebook with some regularity so that we can see how she is doing. We love seeing Odilia, for example!

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  4. I have so much respect and admiration for what you and others in the rescue community do. I also love that you talk about knowing your limits. Far too many rescuers don't. It is hard to say no when it comes to helping yet another cat, but going above what you can handle both financially and emotionally does not help the cats or the humans involved. Thank you for doing what you do each and every day.

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  5. Thank you! Fortunately, I haven't had much of this, but I've seen it. Even foster-to-foster. I think it's akin to people commenting on when/if/how many children a couple is going to have. Not the same (not quite as rude), but similar. Yes, you hope that adopters keep in touch, but if they don't, "ignorance is bliss" and you can imagine your charges living the BEST life. ;-) (oh, and Isaac Arnold??? Holy smokes what a cutie!)

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  6. I have always admired how you move the kittens to the shelter, or know of someone who would be a great cat person and you help them make it all happen. This from a person who rents apartments rather than buy a house or condo. I can only have so many animals and that is the only reason I have only three cats. You are amazing and the help you give the little ones is just awesome.

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  7. So very well said. You once said something about knowing your limits, and when I'm feeling pressured or guilty about not keeping a foster, I say to myself "Know your limits, know your limits" as my mantra, and it helps immeasurably.

    ("a kitten does not need to be here in the physical sense in order for my love for them to continue." - SO TRUE!)

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  8. Agree, Agree! I have to keep telling my daughter this as she still wants every kitten she sees and wants to go back to fostering, and with my three all aged nine to seventeen, and working at home half the time, and just how much it all costs, I know I'm at my limits at least while she is a teenager... She doesn't understand, but I have to keep telling her.

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  9. this is SO true and more.....while people seem to think they are well meaning, it hurts to have people say "keep this one". what is worse is if we lose a permanent resident and the next foster to come through, people chime and say "well now you have an opening". those people may mean well, but it is mean and hurts.... thank you for saying ALL of this

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  10. Maybe people feel 'vested' somehow, just because of the intimacy of the blogging world, and type things that they wouldn't say out loud. I am not a foster, but I get pressure constantly from folks who know I love cats and want to give me THEIRS for a bazillion reasons! "Well, you love cats, so what is one more?" No, they aren't toys that we just pile in a corner! There is time, territory, vet bills...just as you've mentioned in this post. Of course my heart WANTS to help every single cat I see, but the reality is that we only have so much...and I know my limits; outsiders don't.

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  11. Well said. Isaac Arnold was one that really got to me, and I'm 1000+ miles away, so I can't imagine what you felt. And I know the love they're given makes them much happier kitties and better pets.

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  12. I did not know you have 7 cats already. Idk how you do it, but thanks for caring for them and giving them enough love and care so that they can go out into the world and become best kitties for humans in need.

    Emma and Buster

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  13. Fostering animals is a very special, very blessed, greatly needed act. We're very glad you do that, but there is no way you could, or should, keep them all.

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  14. You say it so well ! We love the analogy with "kindergarten", Claire can relate with her pupils : we love them and they are "ours" as long as they stay with us, but at the end of a predefined time, when you have done everything you had to do and teach to them, they have to go for their next adventures without you. Great post ! Purrs

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  15. We understand. The mom started volunteering at one of our local shelters and she wants to bring all the cats home with her. But she knows she can't.

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  16. You've said all that runs though our minds constantly. Our hearts weep at the thought of some we knew at the time we should have kept, and rejoice with the memory that we helped bring joy to others. Thank you.

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  17. I admire you for taking care of them and loving them enough to let them go to other good homes knowing it is impossible to keep them all.

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  18. Beautifully said. We are, of course, infatuated with Parzival but also realize that some of our five would love even more attention from us. It wouldn't be fair. And oh, the vet bills we will have when they all hit their senior years close together. How about if you help yourself out and us by not getting such adorable fosters? If you fostered only dull, unattractive kittens, letting them go would be less painful. But for some reason you never, ever get those.

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  19. Very well said, Connie. I hear it all the time too, especially with the former ferals I've worked so hard to socialize. But matchmaking is far more fulfilling than keeping all the cats I've ever loved could be because I would have quickly run out of space and not been able to love any more, and really the world will never run out of willing hearts to adopt a cat I've fostered. I just have to find them.

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  20. Mewow, this really hit home to me as I am guilty of being one of those who has told people they should keep a foster. While my intention was to never make them feel bad or pressured, after reading your words I totally see things in a new light- thank you.
    I have always admired and felt those who fostered were compassionate and selfless souls and knew it was not something I myself had the strength to do when it comes to the time to give them back. I have only fostered once and he is still here 13 years later as my happily adopted fur son, so I know this to be certain! I understand the whole fostering helps open up space for more in the shelter thing, yet no matter how I meet a homeless animal I become immediately and deeply attached. I feel I don't have the emotional strength in my life at this time to go through it, so I do my best to help rescue in other ways. Thank you for all you do to save lives, prepare these little souls for their future forever families all while caring for your own Pride/family. You have taught me so much and allowed me to enjoy fostering vicariously through your adventures on the blog, bringing many smiles and tears for which I am so appreciative. Please accept my apology for any moments I have ever made comments or pleas about a foster that may have made you uncomfortable or annoyed, you can chalk it up to my overly attached ignorance. I am committed to looking at things more from the foster's perspective and what it takes to really save more cats in need.

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    1. I am sorry if I made you feel bad, as that was not my intention to have anyone feel singled out or about anyone in particular. I see this all over the place, and I do understand. Readers get attached and they are so far away they can't do anything but they want to feel like they are a part of things - and that is awesome!

      I see friends face barrages of people clamoring for them to keep a kitten and I know it must be painful. I totally understand that some people think they are saying it to be cute or to be funny, simply not understanding. I have always chalked those comments up to that when they are said to me, so I accept your apology and offer you a smile and a warm hug. I know it was never said with the intention to hurt.

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  21. This is a great post! I will bring to Hannah's attention (Kitten Lady) ,Hear hear! =^^=

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  22. Anonymous10:14 PM

    Do not feed spam to the kittens! Wad it up and put it in the litterbox where some cutie will poop on it...

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All spam will be fed to the kittens

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