The year is drawing to a close, and I am reflecting on all the cats I have adopted out this year. It is MADNESS! I was a bit shocked to add up the numbers and discover I took in 60 cats and kittens, and have adopted out 55 (and that doesn't count the 13 kittens that died in April!) This is why I am now my veterinary practice's second biggest client after the OSPCA, lol.
The five felines that haven't left are Taya, (failed foster, now a permanent resident!) Peaches (being fostered by my friend Sharron), Lucy, (in a room in my house while we deal with her medical issues), Artemis (5-month-old kitten who was shot in the leg and will be here for the foreseeable future; it looks like she will need her front right leg amputated), and Oliver (who was returned to me after a year and a half because... don't get me started! He is my idea of the perfect cat and everyone who has met him here agrees with me.)
At the start of 2018, I took in five kittens with absolutely no intention of taking in another 55 felines in the ensuing months. This year has been insane, but I have learned so much. I have been sorely tested and disappointed by a couple of people, but for the most part, I have dealt with a lot of really amazing human beings who have given me help along the way, not to mention the fantastic people who have adopted all these beautiful cats. It was never my goal in life to run a cat shelter, and yet here I am, doing what I thought I could never do, and finding it very satisfying.
My goal for next year is to do a better job of balancing everything so that I can spend more time doing the other things I love: writing, making art, and riding my horse. Also there have been times this year when I have been exhausted, which is not something I need at my age. So I am working on that too. You need really strong boundaries to do this cat rescue work, and I am getting better at defending my boundaries all the time, but it can be really difficult to say "no" to a cat in need, But you must! A person can only do so much. It's tough for an introvert like me to be dealing with people all the time, but at the same time, I have been so amazed and touch by the support and kindness I have received from so many in 2018.
And then there's my friend and right-hand cat-woman, Sharron. I can't say enough good things about this beautiful being, Sharron has been there every step of the way this year, volunteering her time to help the cats she loves. She comes to the farm many times a week to clean litter-boxes, wash cat bowls, clean up the granary, and most importantly, to spend time with the cats. She has the most amazing way with them, and I truly believe her love for and care of this kitties is a large part of the reason I do so well adopting out these cats to great homes. She is amazing at socializing them! She understands cats so very well, and is an absolute godsend to me. She will even do things like surprise me with tacos and chai lattes and all manner of things that brighten my days. She is also the person who adopted the Georgie, the one-eyed kitten I fostered for the OSPCA in 2017. I told Sharron the other day that I couldn't do this without her. She said I could. Well, maybe I could, but it would be a lot more difficult. I am so grateful to have her in my life.
There have been some beautiful adoption stories this year. Let me tell you about Ash...
Ash was found shivering on a porch in Cornwall. He had lost weight and has a nasty bite wound on his leg. The person concerned for him contacted me. It's funny; I didn't really have space at the time. On top of that, I hate talking on the phone (introvert!) and usually let it go to call answer unless it's someone I know. Yet on this one particular day, I picked up the phone when it was a number I didn't know. It turned out to be the call about Ash. It was a nurse who worked at the nearby hospital. She wanted to help him, but couldn't keep him because she was in a rental and already had a cat. My first impulse was to say no, but as she talked, my resolve weakened and I agreed to take him in.
I'm so glad I did!
I got Ash off the vet asap. Sadly, he tested positive for FIV (not the end of the world, but he would need some special care.) And the vet took one look at the deep hole in his rear leg and scheduled surgery. While Ash was under, he was also neutered, then sent home with a fine set of sutures along his back leg...
I really wasn't sure how easy it would be to adopt out a FIV-positive cat but I figured I'd give it a shot! And within a week, I'd received a message about Ash from an older gentleman who had lost his beloved wife to cancer last year.
He owned two geriatric dogs, and was looking for a cat to keep him company. Would Ash fit the bill? I invited him to come for a visit. And it turned out the man shared my last name and was from England, like my parents. His accent so reminded me of my father's.
Mr. Rowe and Ash hit it off immediately. Mr. Rowe used to rescue ferals, had a good understanding of FIV and was undaunted by it. Ash would be an indoor, only cat, so no worries about transmission of the virus. While he sat cuddling Ash, I learned a bit about Mr. Rowe. He was a former RAF fighter pilot who flew Spitfires. At some point he had lost his leg and walked with "a stick." His lovely wife had succumbed to a genetic breast cancer at the age of 65, and it was clear to me how much he loved and missed her. Now he was looking for a feline buddy to keep him company on the couch while he watched TV, and bring a bit of kitty personality to the household.
Mr. Rowe left with Ash that day.
The dogs and Ash needed a bit of time to get used to each other, but they have worked things out in short order. Ash now sits next to Mr. Rowe at night while they enjoy their favourite shows, and he sleeps on Mr. Rowe's bed (and sometimes chest!) at night. I could not be happier with how life has worked out for this big, affectionate grey cat.
Stories like this are what keep me going; for every nutjob you meet in cat rescue, there are 100 kind, caring, fantastic people to make up for it.
And happy endings like this one.
Update: Oliver's former owner took exception to my characterization here of her relationship with him, and sarcastically called me "Saint Natalie", so I have removed the offending reference. For all of you who are interested, I am not and have never claimed to be a saint. I just like cats. I do, however, think Oliver is a perfect cat and I stand by that statement. Clearly he was not the right cat for his previous owners. Also, yes, I want to take cats back if their owners no longer want them, and it's in the adoption contract, but that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it. Oliver was in his home for a year and a half, and now he's back here, while his feline sister got to stay. I am sad for Oliver, not for Oliver's human.