I Could Never Foster; I Would Never Give Them Up! – Part One

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I Could Never Foster; I Would Never Give Them Up! – Part One

By: Brianne

Growing up, I always had cats around. In fact, one of my first words was cat. I got my first cat when I was two, Bobo. She taught me compassion for animals and my love for all things feline. I had her until I was sixteen years old and I have been surrounded by cats ever since. I fell in love with felines so much. I was blessed with the opportunities to go to Africa multiple times to volunteer with cheetahs and educate people from all over the world about their fight for survival.

I attended Moorpark College’s Exotic Animal Training and Management Program so I could continue my career with exotic felines. Following graduation, I worked two years at a private zoo as a wildlife educator, bringing exotic animals to schools and libraries to educate children about conservation and animals in general. I absolutely loved my job, but found it frustrating when speaking to people after my presentations and would hear them speak about how they treated their pets. So I started to realize that it is hard to ask people to care about these amazing animals across the world from them, when the animals living in their own homes had little value.

So I started my career in animal rescue next. I began working for San Diego Humane Society (SDHS) & SPCA, the largest Humane Society in my area. I chose them because I researched their euthanasia policy and they were different from all the others I had seen. Euthanasia really was the last option, never the first. That was something I believe very highly in. They also had a world-renowned Kitten Nursery with 24/7 care for these most precious little lives. I was asked and offered many times in three years about fostering kitties since I was the “crazy cat lady,” but my answer was always the same. “Oh no, that’s not for me. I would never give them up.”

After almost three years of working there and only adopting one 8-week old kitten, my husband got orders to go to Yuma, AZ; my time at SDHS was coming to a close. I had been steadfast in my belief that fostering was just not for me. That was until May 2014 and my coworker Athena, who was a foster coordinator, showed me this sick sweet little white and black spotted little girl that was suffering from a bad Upper Respiratory Infection (URI). Her eyes were crusted shut, with runny discharge, she was stuffed up and basically just a disgustingly cute mess. She was also a singleton, so she had no one at all. Well there it was all my saying no, running away when asked and I was done. This little sneezy mini ball of fluff, with a look in her eyes that said “I need you.” We named her Sweetie, because the moment you touched her she began to purr.

It was a roller-coaster of emotions and a very steep learning curve. Every little sneeze, runny poop, sign of sluggishness I was calling poor Athena. She was patient with me and taught me when to worry and when to relax. A few days after initially taking her home, we took in another URI singleton girl. We named this little girl Panda, you can guess why by her markings.

We did worry about our fur kids at home and how they reacted, but after an isolation period and a barrier, our kids accepted them with no issues. Every night, we would play with them when we got home from work. They would put us to sleep when they would snuggle on the sofa with us and purr themselves to sleep. We taught them how to play with toys instead of our fingers and they gave us kisses for helping them. They made having a rough day at work a little easier to handle.

I was given a log to help track not only their weights, but their overall health. All would be added into their records once they went back to SDHS for adoption. Every day I would weigh them to ensure that they were gaining weight instead of losing. With kittens under 12 weeks, fast weight loss can mean certain death if not checked by a veterinarian.  I was provided with a digital food scale, so monitoring did not require me driving them to work every day.

Then the moment of truth came. They finally reached their healthy weight to be able to be spayed and go up for adoption. I was heartbroken. How can I just give them up? How could I abandon them? I felt like the biggest jerk in the world. I had to ask my husband to drive with me to turn them back in, because I knew I was going to be a non-stop crying mess. We got to SDHS and Athena was there to be with me when I put them in the kennel they would live in for the next day or so while waiting to get surgery. When I put them in the kennel, they just stared at me through the bars with their big puss-n-boots eyes and I lost it. I had to take them out and hold and kiss them one last time. We were leaving the next day for Arizona and I wouldn’t see them again.

I put them back, after completely covering them with my tears. My husband was such a trooper and put up with me hysterically crying the whole way home. I just kept saying over and over again I was done. I could never do that again. I just tore out part of my heart and left them. I was done…….

Little did I know how wrong I was.

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