Candy-coated, or third time’s a charm

January 15, 2015

Guest blog.  No intro needed, but please share especially if you’re in the DC area.

Sometimes forever does not mean forever.  That’s a hard lesson to learn in life in general and even harder, for me, when it relates to animal rescue.

Back in the late summer/early fall, I fostered two adorable kittens through the Washington Humane Society (WHS)-  Almond Joy and Reese. They were five weeks old and sick when I brought them home, weighing 1.2 and 1.3 lbs. So very tiny. And I was so very scared. I’d never been responsible for living creatures that small and fragile.  Something I learned about tiny kittens – they are not all that fragile and are pretty darn resilient!  Once they got healthy, the little ladies were perfect and everything you’d want in mini-cats: curious, affectionate, playful with bursts of rambunctiousness, slightly mischievous, and super friendly.
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I was going through a bit of a rough patch and having these two mini furmonsters in my care made all the difference in the world. They needed me to take care of them; I needed the joy, entertainment, and snuggles they provided. I would often end my evenings sitting on the floor of my bathroom – aka the Kitten Suite – with one of them in my lap and the other falling asleep while perched on my shoulders. And I fell in love.

Kari, with a shoulder-climbing furmonster, aged VeryTiny

The one not-so-perfect part of this situation was that my main kittenlady – a 4 year old demon feLion (whom I dearly love despite her antics) – was not having it with the kittens. So there was no option to foster fail. These little girls could not be mine and I would have to find them a forever home. And quickly.
Starting the interview process for forever homes, I made it clear the kittens needed to go together since they are a bonded pair; that weeded out most people who e-mailed WHS expressing interest. Eventually I found a young couple who was eager to adopt both sisters. The couple hung out in my apartment with me and the girls for several hours asking all the right questions and seeming generally like they would provide the perfect home. The kittens even fell asleep on one of the potential adopters, one in her lap and the other on her shoulders. It just felt right.
The kittens went home with the couple two weeks later after being spayed. There were tears and one last fantastic kitten sleepover snuggle-fest. I was sad to let them go but I knew they would be very happy.  With Instagram and Twitter, I knew I would get to see pictures of the fuzznuggets growing and settling into their new home. My work here was done.
But then my girls showed back up at the shelter two weeks later.
The couple encountered a surprise life event and decided they could no longer care for two kittens so brought them back. I was notified by shelter staff immediately and went over to hang out the day they came in. Unfortunately I could not foster again because my resident cat had made herself physically ill from the stress of having the kittens in the house. But I wanted my girls to have someone familiar to help them settle in and I needed to hold them and make sure they were OK. It was so good to see them but I was so mad and my heart was heavy.  They were still tiny kittens, though, and I knew they would probably be re-homed in a short amount of time.
Sure enough, the girls being as perfect as they are, they were adopted back out within a week. I was thrilled. NOW my work was done!
Fast forward 3 months: Almond Joy and Reese have been returned again. What’s wrong with them?  NOTHING. They are healthy, sweet, smart, well-mannered beauties. But their adopter decided to move in with her allergic boyfriend – so back to the shelter they come. Again I was notified by shelter staff immediately and so again I went into the shelter on my lunchbreak.  These 6 month old girls are now gorgeous, mostly-grown cats with luxurious fluff. They recognized me on the spot and started giving out affection without hesitation. They are purr-factories and snugglebugs and my heart fights between being so full of love for them and shattering into a bazillion pieces because they have been failed by humans three times – once at birth and twice by people who promised false-forevers.
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Through Facebook, I immediately started spreading information about the girls along with pictures. My network jumped into action and images of Almond Joy and Reese flooded my newsfeed in posts and re-posts urging potential adopters to check them out. I was bowled over and am positive that a happy ending is just around the corner for my girls, but because you can never be too sure…
If you are in the DC/MD/VA area and considering bringing cats into your home please take a look at Almond Joy and Reese.  And if they are no longer available, check out the other wonderful animals that we have up for adoption at the shelter. But before you adopt, please, please, PLEASE realize that you are making a forever promise to a living, breathing creature who will rely on you for care. Feel the weight of that promise and make sure that you are adopting responsibly. Even the best shelters can be harsh environments and being returned to one doesn’t always allow for a happy ending.
Through the feedback and comments I’ve seen so far on social media, I am hopeful that today the kittenladies will be visited by at least one potential adopter if not several. And that is good and reassuring news. It is also good for the other shelter cats because if potential adopters visit after my ladies have been claimed, maybe they’ll consider the other lovely cats currently waiting to find forever homes. Emphasis on the FOREVER.
And remember – adopt don’t shop.