Sorry it's kinda a long story, there was so much I wanted to tell. But I don't think I made it too long, or boring. Frankly, Merlin and Twix had lots of little quirks and great points, and we had a lot of fun with them. Between that, and the fact that I didn't get to tell some true and hilarious stories about them, I feel like I almost didn't write enough. If you're interested in hearing about some of their pranks, just comment asking for a story. I'm full of 'em, and I promise not to bore you too much.
The point of this article is to show how wonderful it is when people foster. How much it does for the animal(s) and the foster(s).
There will be more foster stories to come. After all, we didn't stop at our first fostering.
We were driving back to our house in Tucson, Arizona. We had just come back to Arizona after a trip.
I have been asking for a pet for years now, and brought up the subject again. That's when my dad had the great idea of fostering. We all really wanted a cat. So maybe we could foster one.
I pointed out that in most cases I knew, you had to foster the animal until it got adopted. And since we travel a lot, that wasn't an option.
Not always, said my mom. She knew someone who fostered kittens for a Humane Society, and she only had to keep them until they were strong enough to go back to the shelter.
I got online and found the Humane Society of Arizona(HSSA). And yes, you could foster for them! It also said that foster homes could refuse to take on a foster at any time, and it would not reflect on their foster status.
Later that week, we printed out the foster form, filled it out, went to the Humane Society, and handed it in.
We later got an E-Mail saying that a foster care class was scheduled, and we had to take the class before fostering.
Since Mom and I were to be the "main caretakers", it was us two who were to take the class. When we went to the class they explained the basics of keeping puppies and kittens, like how to keep very young ones warm. They said that it was best for the animals, kittens especially, to come into fostering with their mother, so they could pick up on the normal attributes of their kind. However, sadly, most animals that ended up in foster homes were orphans that weren't able to survive in a shelter.
We were given a fostering manual during the class, and we were told two additional things before the class ended. One was that we would receive E-Mails notifying us of animals needing fosters. We had to reply by phone call if we wanted to take them in.
The other was that if we were overlooked and didn't get any fosters, tell them. The staff would put our names on a certain board, so that we would be some of the first to get fosters.
A little while later, we received several E-Mails about kittens in need of foster.
There was a 7 kitten litter that needed Sub-Q fluids and antibiotics. We decided that would be too much for a first time. Another was a single kitten that was very weak. Maybe we could take that one.
We replied to the E-Mail, and were told that, sadly, the kitten had died, having been too weak survive. However, they said, they did have a pair, brothers, that were underage and needed socialization. We jumped on it.
(Note: Most animals that we take in as fosters are the ones needing socialization. We've found that giving a ton of love and care to cats is what we do best.)
The next day, Mom and I went to pick up our future fosters. Dad had to go run errands, and would probably be home the same time as us. When we got to the Humane Society, we were told the whole sad story as we were led over to the building in which our future fosters were kept.
There is a thing around here called Brush and Bulky. Brush and Bulky is basically something where people leave their yard scraps and old furniture out by the curb, and a truck comes by and picks it up.
Just before a certain pile was about to be thrown in the truck, mewling was heard, and inside the pile of twigs and scraps they found two 6 week old kittens, presumably brothers. These were our foster kittens.
They did not have names yet, so we could name them ourselves. They needed to be kept in our home until they were of age(8 Weeks) and weight to go back to the shelter.
When they brought in the carrier, I gasped and melted before the incredible cuteness that is two kittens, looking at you with kitten blue eyes.
They were huddled in the back, a little scared.
When our escort, Stephanie, stuck her hand in, they hissed.
After all they were through, could you blame them?
"They're a little hissy." she said cheerfully, drawing back her hand.
"Hissy is good." breathed Mom, half talking to the kittens, half talking to Stephanie.
|Stephanie and I. Merlin and Twix were in the carrier.|
Our eyes were glued to those kittens, and the most we could say was "Oh my gosh, they're so cute!".
A photographer for the shelter wanted some pictures of us holding the kittens. That picture ended up on HSSA Facebook page later.
We carefully carried our new fosters, who were huddled in the back of the carrier, to the car and drove home. While we drove, Mom and I discussed names. One was fluffy and an Orange Tabby. The other was Black, and had shorter hair. Both had grayish/blue eyes, but the Black One's were more stormy. Since the sky was the same color at the time, we considered naming him something like Storm. Mom wanted to name the tabby Arthur, and maybe the black one Merlin. We agreed to ask Dad his opinions before deciding.
When we got home, we set up the tub with towels and a litter box, and food and water. We put their carrier in the tub, door open, and let them be.
|Twix(right) and Merlin(left) eating together.|
That night, we took them out on the couch while we were watching TV, putting them carefully in our laps. After a few minutes they settled in, and we had a very enjoyable night sharing the kittens, who would occasionally change laps.
The next few weeks, we established a routine.
The kittens we decided to name Merlin(the black one), and Twix(the tabby).
Every morning, Twix and Merlin got wet food, we played with them in the afternoon, they were free fed dry food all day, and then got a dinner of wet food. At night, we would take them onto our laps and watch a movie. The kittens would climb all over us with little claws, play fighting with each other. After the movie was over, we would play with them ourselves. Eventually, the kittens grew big enough to jump off the couch. We took shower curtain rods, wedged them between the walls in the hallway, draped a curtain over it, and stuck the curtain to the floor with slate. In the kitten's minds, this was another wall, and it prevented them from going out into the hallway(at least, it did until they figured it out).
We noticed two things about our little foster kittens. One was that Merlin was quite the jumper, pretty athletic, while Twix was kind of a pushover sometimes, and found it hard to jump high. Thus, Merlin was the first to manage to get out of the tub. Mom wanted to change his name to Houdini, since he was an escape artist, but Dad and I said it was too late to change their names.
The second thing we realized was that they clung to whoever was holding them like burrs. Cling they did, with those little but sharp claws that got through nearly every shirt. And it really hurt when they climbed up onto ours necks. We learned the hard way that many kittens do this. Luckily, Merlin and Twix stopped clinging quite so much when they began to trust us more. Until then, however, we had to hold them with their claws facing out.
Finally, one day we brought our kittens to the shelter to get their shots, and received surprising news.
|On the prowl.|
Stephanie, weighing them, them told us that Twix and Merlin were "of weight".
This stunned us, for while we had been tracking their weight, we hadn't realized that at four pounds and eight weeks they were ready to go back.
Stephanie told us that we could keep them for another few days, if we wanted.
"Well, would we be lessening their chances of getting adopted? I mean, would they be up for adoption those few days?" asked Mom.
No. They were scheduled to be fixed in a few days, and then they would be up for adoption at the Furbaby Feista, an event HSSA was doing for three days, in which mixed breeds would be free, no adoption fee, and purebreds would be half-off.
In that case, said Mom, we would keep them. Better they were in our home for those few days instead of a cage.
|Blue feather toy..oohh..|
|Their eyes began to lose that kitten blue, and turned green.|
After Merlin and Twix were gone, I found myself instinctively doing things I had to do while the kittens were in our home, like closing the bathroom door before inquisitive kittens followed me out.
When Friday came, we left around 3:00, being on the second shift.
We found out from Gina, the Volunteer Coordinator, what we were to do, which was hang out in the cat room and help people who wanted to know about the cats. If we didn't know something, direct them to someone who does.
I looked, but couldn't find our kittens.
We found someone we recognized, and asked about Merlin and Twix.
It turned out that a dry patch on Merlin's leg had to be inspected before they could be put on the adoption line. We had noticed the dry patch before, and figured it was from a scrape he may have gotten in the Brush and Bulky pile. The shelter's Veterinarians thought it might be something more serious, and had to check.
I soon found Merlin and Twix in their spot in the cat room, and felt like crying. Twix was eating and looking tired, while Merlin was occasionally showing off for the people that came over. It seemed that no one was interested in adopting both, and everyone seemed to lose interest with them after having a kitten cling to them and shiver(well, they were in a scary, loud place) for a while.
I wandered around a bit, telling people about Twix and Merlin's good points, checking out the ferrets(both of the ferrets got adopted by a man who had one, and wanted company for it), and checking on the dogs. Almost every dog's kennel card said "Adopted" or "I'm being considered for adoption". That was good. But no one seemed to want our kittens.
I came back to the cat room and got the best surprise ever.
Mom and one of the foster staff were talking to a girl, a little younger than me, and her mother. They have decided to adopt Merlin and Twix!
It was explained that when the mother and daughter came in looking for a pair of kittens, it was an instant match. The foster volunteer quickly said that it would be best if Merlin and Twix were adopted together, and that was that.
I sat outside the cat room with the adoptive family, telling them all about Merlin and Twix, and answering questions that they had, like Twix and Merlin's diet.
The daughter even has the same name as me. Her mother insisted that could not be a coincidence, and I agreed.
The girl could hardly sit still for all her excitement, and I was having trouble too. I'm still so glad that our little kittens got adopted.
"Well, it seems like you've done a great job fostering them." the mother said.
I think we did.