As a college student, one of the worst things about moving out is saying goodbye to your family pet. I have always been a cat lover and if being a cat mom could be a full time job, I would hands-down pursue a degree in it. As an out-of-state student, adopting a cat was not an option logistically. As much as I missed having a furry friend around, it wouldn’t be a good living situation for either party.
Then, the pandemic hit. I moved back in with my parents for a few months and when it was announced that my next semester was online, I got a one bedroom apartment for the 2021-2021 school year. Doing school online from your hometown is both dehumanizing and disappointing. The pandemic made things very lonely and I highly considered adopting a cat or kitten. However, I knew I would be going back to the city and moving a cat would be stressful and expensive. (Why is pet rent so expensive?) I didn’t know much about fostering, but I was in desperate need of a cat friend so I went to see if my local animal shelter was in need of foster parents.
Each animal shelter is different, but the one I went to allowed you to have the option of fostering cats, dogs or both. After orientation, the shelter I work with put me on an email list where they send out a weekly list of the animals that are available for fostering. Foster parents then reply to the email with which animal(s) they are able to foster. The shelter was able to provide food and toys. The shelter also lets you know when the cats need vet appointments, when they are cleared for adoption, and when potential adopters would like to come do a meet and greet. So far, I have fostered four cats and plan on fostering up until I leave to live in the dorms again.
The first kitten that I fostered was with me for about a month because he was quarantining for FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus). I was a bit concerned about being overly attached to an animal, but funnily enough, he was adopted by my best friend.
My second foster cat was very shy and was not as great of an experience as the first because I didn’t consider the layout of my apartment. I have a one bedroom apartment with an open floor plan so there is no in between in terms of room space. As a shy cat, the open floor plan made it difficult for her to warm up to people because there was no place where she felt like she could hide. And unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to spend hours in the bathroom until she decided that humans weren’t scary.
After my second experience, I made sure not to foster animals that needed help with socializing because of the apartment layout. The third was a much better experience! She had an upper respiratory infection so she hung out with me until her cold went away.
My fourth foster cat was adopted this morning! He was pretty high maintenance because he came to me with a large neck wound and a cold. He had a rough start with lots of medications and a major surgery, but was such a sweet cat that it made things easier. Since he required more of a time commitment, it was helpful to have my boyfriend around to be Cat Dad for a bit when vet appointments didn’t align with my work schedule.
It is bittersweet to see your furry friend get adopted because there is so much time and effort put in to make sure the animal feels at home. If you are considering fostering, I wouldn’t let that stop you! Sounds silly, but fostering has made the pandemic a bit less lonely AND allowed me to have a bit more responsibility than I normally would if I were just taking care of myself.