Why You Should Consider Fostering A Homeless Animal – Part Two

Our pretty kitty

Earlier this week, I posted “Top 10 Reasons to Foster A Homeless Animal.” It was a good enough post. But one of my animal rescue colleagues urged me to tell the story of how Rich and I fostered our cat Lexi. And I realized telling you about a real life example was probably a much more effective way to tell you why it’s so important to consider fostering.

If you’ve read my blog before, you probably know that I volunteer for the Michigan Animal Adoption Network (MAAN). Every day, I hear stories about cats and dogs being surrendered. “We just had a baby. We don’t want the dog anymore.” “We’re moving. We need to give up the cat.” Stories like this can wear on you.

About a year and a half ago, I told Chris Wisswell, the Adoption Manager at MAAN, that I’d never had a cat, but I was interested in at least fostering. I figured fostering was a perfect scenario. I would not have to commit to keeping the cat and if she was not a great fit, we could help her find the perfect home. And I could feel good about that. As you’ll find out, I was right!

Not only did I want to make sure I knew what I was doing to properly care for a cat, but I had to be absolutely certain we found a cat that had lived with dogs before. We knew our dog Pebbles adored cats, but she’s a big, goofy Golden Retriever that might scare a skittish cat.

The economy and many other factors have contributed to the massive cat overpopulation epidemic here in Michigan, so Chris had a foster cat for us almost immediately. Her name was “Lexus” (yes, like the car). Lexus’ mom was an elderly woman who had recently passed away. Her son had been taking care of her, but he could no longer care for her. I had been assured she had lived with dogs before. I’ve always been good with animals, but some reason I was really nervous about bringing in a cat. I guess it was simply the unknown. After taking several weekend vacations and basically stalling, I agreed to foster her. We had no more trips planned at the time and the timing finally felt right.

“Lexus” arrived at our home on a Sunday morning. She was a darling, pudgy brown tabby. She appeared to be in good shape, but she was shedding a lot. I carried her inside and as soon as I put her in her “safe room” (a room gated off so Pebbles could not get to her), she scurried under the bed. As I suspected, she was super nervous.

Lexus did not feel like the right name for her. So we re-named her “Lexi” and I knew almost immediately that if she and Pebbles ended up getting along, that we would formally adopt her.

Lexi about a week after she arrived. She finally came out from under the bed. Progress!

Thanks to a bunch of good advice given to Rich and me from my friends at MAAN, Lexi settled in, slowly but surely. The best tip they gave me was to give her time to get her bearings and just be patient. Some cats took months to get comfy in a new home. So we did. It was hard, as I just wanted to cuddle and play with her, but we gave her some space.

Fast forward a couple of months. The folks at MAAN were right! Lexi was doing well. And though Lexi and Pebbles are not best friends who cuddle, they are definitely nice to each other! Pebbles is the big buffoon we expected her to be, but Lexi puts up with her big tail and has not even so much as hissed at her. As we had hoped, she was a great fit for our family!

Lexi even handled our move from a condo to a house in stride!

Not every foster story has to be this way. If you truly don’t want to commit to adopting a dog or cat that you foster, you simply don’t have to. You could foster an animal for a week or a month and then happily give it to someone who wants to adopt it permanently. You should give it a try, like we did. Fostering allows an animal to get out of a scary shelter faster. It allows the animal to show it’s real personality so it ends up in the absolute perfect, PERMANENT home.

Here's Lexi comfortable in our new house. She settled in quicker than we expected!

The key to fostering is education. Once I learned how easy cats are, I asked myself why I had not gotten one sooner. All they need is food, water, a clean litter box and a little love. They don’t need to be taken out in the middle of the night to pee, and they are generally pretty low maintenance. And while they may not be as “outgoing” as dogs, they give unconditional love just the same. Cats just need a little patience in their new home. Lexi’s veterinarian recently told me that on average, it takes an adopted cat 7 months to get comfortable in their adopted home! Can you imagine if more folks just exhibited a little more patience?

After a minor surgery to remove a little cyst, Pebbles stood guard by Lexi, making sure she was OK.

I really didn’t write this blog to get “deep” by any means, but maybe if we all had a little more patience, perhaps we’d see few homeless and displaced animals.

Pebbles & Lexi

To talk to MAAN about fostering, call Chris at 248-545-5055.


4 responses

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Why You Should Consider Fostering A Homeless Animal – Part Two « Lindsay Warren's Blog -- Topsy.com

  2. That’s one of the biggest parts of what the volunteers for my local group do–educate. Cats are such misunderstood creatures!

    Also, I wish fewer people would see pets as novelties, or disposable. One of the questions on the form when I adopted Harley asked what I would do with him if something happened–job loss, big move, injury, etc. I immediately put that no matter what, my cats stay with me, but if something devestating happened, my parents wouldn’t even blink–they’d take my cats. That’s something that people don’t think about too often. When I lost my job this year, I knew paying for cat food and litter and flea treatment would get tight, but I do it because I made a commitment to my kids!

    • Agreed. Education is something that must be ongoing and consistent. If I, an animal welfare enthusiast, was initially nervous about having a cat for the first time, clearly others are too. So we have to keep sharing the positive stories!

  3. This is so sweet. I just love that Pebbles is so protective of Lexi. Pets are so wonderful and loving we should do all we can for them. Thank you for taking in Lexi!

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