On Fostering Cats and Following Our Heart

A month after we settled in our new home, I felt a longing. I've always lived with animals and a home doesn't feel like home without them. It was too soon for me to adopt one, as I was still grieving my dog's passing and I needed time to process it, so I thought of fostering. The area where I live has a shortage of cat foster homes, so I contacted an organisation and offered to help. A couple of days later, two cats entered our home.

I'm not going to lie. The first month was hellish as the four of us adapted to each other. The cats met at our place for the first time. At first, they kind of tolerated each other but kept their distance. But as they got more comfortable and adapted to their new life, the wars started. Suffice to say, I didn't get much sleep the first month. 

I almost gave up on the whole idea of fostering but things got a little better as we entered the second month. They fought sometimes but also played together. They woke us up almost every night like many cats do, but we began to get used to it. One of them was wilder than the other, very playful but also a little destructive. The other cat was mellow and quickly attached to me. And then a surprising thing happened: We bonded with the wild one.

For me, it occurred slowly. I didn't even notice until it was too late. I put up a post about both cats in an attempt to find their forever homes. This is what my rational mind told me to do. I'm a foster cat mum, my job is to help them find homes. I clicked "Post" even though my body resisted it. Why was my body resisting it? I didn't know yet but I would soon. I got contacted by someone who wanted to adopt Wild Cat. We chatted for a while. It seemed a good home but part of me wanted to avoid answering questions. Part of me wanted to say she wasn't available anymore.

It's funny how you can get attached to a cat that breaks things, wakes you up at night, scratches and bites and rarely wants cuddles. I didn't feel such a strong bond with Mellow Cat, surprisingly. But we don't choose who we love, do we? Still, I forced myself to be rational. This place is temporary. We don't know where we'll go after this. Who would we leave her with when we travel? I've committed to finding them a home. It's just normal feelings you get when you foster: A little sadness, and then you'll feel happy that she found a home! 

The day came when she had to leave. I woke up on the wrong foot. I felt sad, anxious. I checked the time constantly, dreading the moment they would come to fetch her. Was I really that attached to her? And then, the doorbell rang. I felt my stomach sink. My heart was beating fast and I had a sick feeling. The whole experience feels like a dream now: They came in, she saw them and ran away, something unusual in her. It was so hard to put her in the carrier because she kept fighting us. It all felt wrong. But a few minutes later they were walking off with her, and all I could do after that was cry.

The house feels empty without her. Even Mellow Cat seems to miss her. My rational mind keeps telling me it was the right thing to do but my heart tells me I made a mistake. Sure, I'll move on. Sure, I'll bond with other cats. Sure, she'll be happy and loved because she found a nice home, and that's what really matters. But every bone in my body is telling me this was the wrong choice.

Life is a series of choices. We make some of those choices with our heart and some with our mind. I know many people rely more on their minds and feel at peace doing so. Not me. When I choose with my mind, I end up regretting it, and no amount of rationalisation will work on me. When I follow my heart, though, it sometimes leads me to treacherous paths, but I never regret walking those. I suppose that's how intuitive people work. 

As I finish writing this post, Mellow Cat is sitting on my lap. We comfort each other in this silence. She misses their chasing games and I miss the challenge of making a bed with a cat jumping on it. In my dreams, Wild Cat comes back and stays with us forever. In the real world, I just hope Mellow Cat will find a happy home too, and I think of future love-starved cats to come. Those of us who can love should love.

And screw my mind. I'm letting my heart lead.

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