Each time I consent to foster kittens, I know there will come a time to let them go. My head tells me it's the best thing for them and for me. My heart tells me otherwise.
During the 8 to 10 weeks I foster a mama cat and her kittens, I grow very fond of them, even though I've told myself I wouldn't become attached. I don't remember a time when I didn't love cats and kittens. I used to carry a "free kitten" part way home from a friend's house and let him down to walk when I was almost there. That way I could tell my mom, "Look what followed me home!". She always knew what I'd done, though I thought I'd been clever. I was the kid who always spent the whole weekend at my grandmother's farm, trying to coax the feral barn cats and kittens to come to me. To my stern grandmother's dismay, I'd often succeed and she'd scold me and shoo them away from the house, and my heart would be broken. So, my love for cats has been a lifelong preoccupation and I can't stop myself, not that I'd want to. I was never allowed to keep a cat or kitten for very long. Mom was convinced that I'd not take care of it properly, though no one ever showed me how to clean a litter box and I didn't have any idea about spaying or neutering back then. Even though I was just a child, I would have done my best, but I was never able to convince her that I would care for my cat if only given the chance. Mom grew up in a time when animals were not allowed in homes and if they didn't earn their keep (by catching mice) they were of no use. Every time she took away one of my beloved cats or kittens, I'd tell her that when I grew up I'd have as many cats as I wanted - and look what happened!
This weekend I traveled to Columbus to work on clearing out Mom's house and to deliver Misty, Simon, and Sofie to a friend who had found homes for them. Dustin (now called Murphy) had been placed in his forever home on Thursday and though he was the first to go, it wasn't such a difficult adjustment since Misty still had two babies over which to dote. I am absolutely sure he will have a wonderful life at his new home. He has a loving human mama now and a big sister, Bailey.
On Saturday, just before they left me, I took some final photos of the kittens and Misty and for the very first time, Sofie actually seemed to pose for the camera. She had been camera shy most of the time so I think that was her parting gift to me. I held my emotions in check until the cats were in the car and pulling away, then the tears came and my heart ached. I think it was especially bittersweet since I was alone in my mom's house going through more of her things and trying to decide which were going to be kept and which would be discarded. Mom must have saved just about every greeting card she'd ever received and the last ones I found were the sympathy cards she received in 2000 when my brother died at the age of 46. There were many beautiful cards and I was puzzled as to why my sisters and I had never seen them. I looked at each one, read every handwritten note, and in a small way, grieved for my brother again.
So it was indeed a bittersweet day, but I'm truly at peace knowing my mom and brother no longer suffer pain or discomfort, I'm reasonably sure my mama cat and kittens have loving homes, and very soon we'll have Mom's house ready to be listed for sale. Things are progressing as they should and life goes on, as it must.