Letting Go

Today is going to be a bit of challenge for Mike and I as we are (hopefully) adopting out some of our favorite new arrivals.

I have turned down so many homes for Kira. Once in a great while, you are lucky enough to have a kitten or a cat who is an old soul, and Kira is just that. She has a sense about her and when another cat doesn’t feel good, Kira knows and responds by cuddling up to them, grooming them and just being a small mom. If you don’t feel good, you can’t get her off your lap. She curls up on your chest right under your neck and turns into a warm, purring heating pad. She is a great comforter.

We also joke in the mornings when we let her out of her cage that we are releasing the kraken! Her energy level is right up there with the energizer bunny and the only time she slows is when she knows one of her feline friends has the feel bads. She is really an incredible girl and a young couple in Springfield are anxiously waiting to meet her. They have no other pets, no plans to get another cat or a dog. They saw her on on Petfinders- fell in love with her- discussed it for days then contacted me thinking for sure she was already placed. The gal, Amanda impressed me in the application form by telling me stories of four cats she had when she was growing up. One of her cats- the one she took with her when she got married died recently at the age of 22. They are a good match and unless something goes horribly wrong with the home visit, this will be the last morning that Kira will lay on my shoulder as I sit and type.I will miss this little angel.

Toad and Willow are off to another home. It is another family, this one with older children. The husband (Angel) contacted me first, then his wife called and we spoke. Their application form speaks volumnes of the love they hold for cats and they want their children to experience that type of love as well. They have been looking for over a year for two kittens who also speak to them.

Toad is my kitty. He bonded with me from the very beginning and is not happy unless he is draped around my neck, sitting on my lap or sleeping on my chest. If I sleep in the bedroom with the newcomer- he will sit at the door and cry pitifully wondering why Mom won’t let him in to sleep too. We call him our doorstop because if he is laying on the floor in the way, you have to scoot him gently out of the way with your foot, and he lets you. Just lays there enjoying the “ride.” Both littermates came from a bad place and now it is time for them to leave here and spread the love they received here to the new family. Willow who is my fountain guard might hide at first, but I doubt that Toad will hide with her. He has to be with someone at all times and in a family of four, it is likely someone will be with him at all times and experience the love of both of these beautiful kittens.

And as four leave (muggles leaves on Weds) two more are preparing to come here and be helped. For now a good samaritan is holding them in her apartment (against the rules) and would face eviction if caught. But she said she can do this until Weds as the landlord is out of town and the assistant manager is a cat lover. The story is the landlord when he returns is going to set out poison-laced food for the cats in the complex. The past landlord was fired for allowing cats by the owners and this new person apparently hates cats with a passion. I will never understand that type of hatred (thankfully).

So today, three lovely kittens will leave us and there will be tears of sadness and joy shed. But to think of them being in their own forever home makes me smile. Every cat deserves that and every true rescuer tries to make that a reality.

Now, if only someone would adopt Tover- my year and a half black boy who loves to lay on my arm when I type! It’s like having five pounds of concrete in the crook of your arm. And every so often, he will leap up at my face as if to say “Mom I am right here- pay attention to me not to the stupid computer!” What can I say- I just love cats…. I put up with a lot as do they!

Toad when he first arrived and than how he looks today


And then, there is Kira that is likely not to be a very big kitty due to neglect and malnutrition-


And last, but certainly not least is Willow the Fountain Guard


8 thoughts on “Letting Go

  1. I sometimes think the hardest part of rescue is not the illness or the things we see, but trusting ourselves to know when to let them go. Both families sound wonderful and we know that, no matter how hard, you are putting these kittens into good hands. And placing them opens up space for new saves. 🙂

    (and no, we don’t understand “hating” anything – you may not like it, but we don’t understand hate)

  2. Hi Mary Ann:

    Last year, when I start to feed feral cats in my backyard and wanted to learn more about Feral Cats, I came across your blog and, from time to time, in tear when reading about these kitties. I’m now a Feral cat caretaker doing TNR and have lovely former feral cats as my house pet. I can go on and on talking about my lovely cats all day long, but that’s not what I write to you.

    I happened to attend a Cat Trap Depot Workshop in Warren, MI yesterday. The main speaker is Ms. Susan Rosenberg. She’s Petco Foundation National Grants and Disaster Relief Manager, who is a face of Petco Foundation that giving grant to rescue group and organization. She told us about “how to” write a grant and such. Your name was the first thing that popped into my head. If you haven’t done so and consider getting a grant for these lovely kitties you’ve been help out for years. please contact me via email. I can send you my contact address and phone no, if you’d like to talk.

    Bless your heart for all you’ve done for the kitties

  3. Good luck to all those going off to their homes, and good luck to those still waiting. I understand how tough it is to let some foster-cats go: I know because I couldn’t let two of mine go. But I can only guess at the heart-ache of letting one go when you would like to keep him more than anything. I had the luxury of keeping two of my fosters. What you do doesn’t allow that very often, I realise.

  4. Hi Mary Ann,

    I honestly don’t know how you continue to do what you do. For the first time in my life, I fostered three 8 month old kittens and just recently let two of them go (together) to their forever home and it’s killing me. Some days I’m okay, other days I can’t stop crying.

    Last year a mama cat had her kittens on the property where I work. Several people began feeding them even before they were weaned, so they never had any reason to learn to care for themselves in that regard. When they were about 12 weeks old no one wanted to feed them anymore. Since the damage had already been done and they were now dependent on human care, I and a co-worker took on the responsibility. We TNR’d them, set up a feeding station, and built a shelter. This went well until they were big enough (7 months old) to begin being seen as a distraction for visitors and associates and as a result their presence was no longer wanted by the powers that be.

    By this time, one of the kittens was already interacting with me and letting me pet and hold him. The other two got on board soon enough. Since winter had already begun and the temps were getting lower, so I now had the added incentive to rescue them and bring them to my home to foster. I knew going into it that I couldn’t keep all three, but I wanted to so badly. Especially since one of the boys had already begun to bond with me, and I with him.

    We brought them into our home 2 weeks before Christmas and began teaching them how to live as house cats. We were actually very successful, very quickly. Because they already felt safe with me, and were mostly acclimated to being around (but not interactive with) humans, it was easy for them to accept my home and my husband as safe also. They were still a little frightened and needed some time to adjust to a new environment; lots of hiding, etc. But it didn’t take long until they were feeling quite at home and integrated with our cats (after a thorough veterinarian exam, of course). After about 7-1/2 weeks with us, we found a wonderful forever home where the two boys could be together. We were thrilled!

    We were very careful to visit the prospective adoptive parent’s home and to have them over to our house to visit with the boys, which went very well. We also filled them in completely on their history and habits, and gave them more information than they could ever process on how to care for them successfully. Then, on January 31st, we took the boys to their home and said goodbye. I felt so great about finding them the perfect home, that I hardly grieved at all the first night. In fact, I was elated. But the next morning was excruciatingly painful for me, and every day since has been difficult.

    I’ve been to visit them once and don’t plan to visit again. Both of the boys were behind the couch when I came into their room (I assumed that this was their chosen hiding place, because a couple beds had been placed back there for them). When I reached behind the couch and began petting the boy that had bonded with me, he got up and moved just out of my reach and sat down staring at me angrily. I couldn’t reach the other boy, but he seemed quite relaxed, lying in his bed with his paws crossed peacefully looking at me. I was happy that he seemed to be so content, but was very disturbed about the other. He’s always been the more nervous one and I think he really let down his walls and began trusting me, as much as he was able, over the course of time that I cared for him. It broke my heart to see his reaction, because I know he doesn’t understand why I left him in this strange place with people he had only just met. And my biggest fear is that he won’t be able to bond with his new parents because of the hurt of trusting and being let down by another human.

    In all of your fostering experiences, have you ever faced a situation like this? I really love this little guy and would love to know that he will be okay. Any info or advice you (and/or anyone else) could share with me would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for all you do,

  5. Hi Dee,

    Yes, I have had this type of reaction plenty of times. It is a normal reaction for kittens who have bonded with one human and had to learn to switch loyalties (so to speak) It takes time for this to happen. I try not to visit my adopted kittens to often right at first. I let them get adjusted to their life- keep in contact with the people via email or phone if any problems come up. I am fortunate enough to have people send me photos of past adoptions which I cherish. This year at Christmas, I got a card from the family who adopted Willow and Toad and a photo of the two of them cuddling on the couch. They have grown so big and handsome! I also was able to adopt out Tover last year (the black cat I mentioned in the above post) Sandra, his new owner is a dream come true. Tover shreds paper- he is very good at it! Sandra brings him homework from her school (old homework no longer needed) sets it in the corner and he goes for it! She doesn’t mind cleaning up after him but at first the emails between us left her puzzled. Why was he doing this? I suspect because he was dumped into the dumpster and he had shredded a lot of newspaper and cardboard in his anxiety before I found him. It’s just in him.

    Some cats hide for days, months or hours. I always tell people as long as they are eating, drinking and using the litterpan let them hide. Once you start ignoring cats, it’s amazing how quickly they learn to trust you.

    I also know your sadness well. It killed me to give up Toad, he was clinging to me the entire time and the woman said that I could just take him back home. He was a mama’s boy for sure. BUT had I kept him, I wouldn’t have been able to help the next one (and sadly there is always a next one)

  6. Thank you so much for your reply. It was so nice to hear such great stories, and that you were able to adopt out Tover. And to such a wonderful home. Congratulations!

    Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my concerns. It really helps to know that my feelings are not all that uncommon. It still breaks my heart, but it’s comforting to know that what I’m experiencing is a normal part of the process.

    You said you don’t visit much at first, do you ever visit?

    The reason I wanted to visit these little guys was because I knew that they were terrified when we let them out of their carrier and into their new room. They immediately went into hiding and stayed there the entire time we were there. Needless to say, we didn’t get to say goodbye. At least not there. And I was concerned that perhaps they felt abandoned by us. Do cats think that way? Because they were so afraid, I thought that spending some time with them in their new environment in the first day or two might help them feel more secure and less abandoned. And that maybe my presence and approval of their new home would help them adjust; but the adopted parents thought it best that we just leave them and let them work with them alone over the weekend.

    In the first week, I communicated with them a couple of times via text about how the boys were doing. They were quick to respond and told me that at first there was a lot of hiding and no interaction, but as the week went on they began to venture out a lot, less hiding, actual petting and holding (though not a lot), and very healthy appetites. All great news. Since it didn’t work out to see them the weekend I took them over, I went to visit about a week later. I guess I just wanted to see for myself that they were okay, and I already told you how that went.

    While I was there the parents shared with me that one of the boys, not the one that I bonded with, was becoming more outgoing and seemed a lot more comfortable being there. The other one, however, was still having trouble adjusting and was still very much afraid and hiding. I suppose that’s to be expected for such a short time. But, I’m wondering…

    When you’ve adopted cats out together, have you found that it helps them to adapt easier? Do you think it’s appropriate to initiate contact with the new parents now and then to see how things are progressing? Since I’ve just recently seen them, do you think I should wait a while before contacting them again? And lastly, do you ever have adopted parents that don’t want to communicate with you (or that just aren’t good at initiating contact but respond when you do) and if so, how do you handle that?

    Sorry to have so many questions. I’m just trying to put my mind at ease about all of this and I SO appreciate your time and effort to share with me out of your great amount of experience.

    Thank you!

  7. kirby This is a recent photo I got from Kirby’s adopted family. He bonded after about a week with the resident Scottish Fold and now they are best of friends.

    Dee, I have been doing this for over thirty years and have learned that letting go- means just that. Letting go- means trusting that you did the right thing in adopting them out. It also can become an annoyance to the adopted family (Unless they specifically ask you to drop by) because then they start to doubt the adoption process itself. I tell everyone who adopts from us that we will take these cats or kittens back at any time without question. That has bit me in the butt a few times, but I would rather know that they end up back with us rather than be tossed outside or taken to the shelter or re-adopted to another family.

    They will work it out- I would just make it known to the new family that if something doesn’t work out, you stand ready to take either both or one of them back. This eases the pressure on them as well and will ultimately end up trickling down to the cats themselves. I answer any questions via email or phone and if I am in the area where I know an adopted cat is- I will phone and ask if I can stop by and see how things are going. But, I don’t make a special trip to visit them. Also you reappearing out of the blue, makes the kittens feel like they are going back to their first home and that isn’t fair to them. If you feel like they are being neglected, abused then by all means take them back immediately. If not- let them go and concentrate on the next ones when they fall into your path.

  8. Thank you for the reassurance and the great advice. And of course, you’re right, I need to trust in our decision and let it go.

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