It started innocently enough. The Animal Project who rescues cats from high kill shelters sets up camp at the Petco across the street from my house. I’d walk by occasionally and oogle the kitties but I was a confirmed dog person. My 2nd dog died in April leaving a gaping hole in my heart. I swore I’d never get another dog.

So a few months ago I stop by the cages as usual but for some reason I lingered longer. A volunteer tells me that if I’m unsure about adopting there is the fostering option. In my mind this meant that I could “borrow” cats, we could play with them and then return them guilt free. I’m not sure I like them, I might be allergic but I’m suddenly obsessed with having one.

It was like Christmas morning when Cat Carol came over with two carriers of cat. Soon after a mom and her three kittens came tumbling to the floor. Little did we know that kittens rescued from the streets are terrified. They immediately scurried under the couch in the living room. They were gone in seconds and before they had been introduced to the litter box. (Cat poo smells particularly disgusting my theory is that it’s because they lick and ingest all of the dirt on their bodies). I will often walk into my bathroom where the litter is and start dry heaving. I digress. So they are in hiding and pooping or peeing wherever they are. We were told to name them with a theme so the boys picked Hamilton. The mom was Eliza and the kittens were Aaron Purr, Skylar and Lafayette.

The whole “Foster” thing is a hoax because they know what’s going to happen in a matter of weeks. They come out of their shells and into your arms. I always thought kitties were aloof but these could not get enough physical contact. As soon as I’d lie on my bed Lafayette – a meticulously spotted Calico – would immediately jump on my chest and make chirping noises, lick my face with her sand paper tongue and wet sneeze on me. Skylar her sister and the jittery runt was catching my attention too like when she ran across the bottom of my couch perpinidular to the floor.. Aaron Purr the solid black and only boy took to peeing on my nicest living room chair so my feelings towards him were challenged. The mom was so lovely and patient and beautiful – though they were too old to nurse she often tolerated their fight to the nipple. As they drank their little paws open and close on her stomach like they’re kneading dough. Also they sleep together like puzzle pieces, lie on my computer keyboard while I’m typing and revere and hate water at the same time.

The foster gig requires that you bring them to the Saturday adoption event and pick them up. Throughout the day pedestrians peruse the “stock”and fill out fostering or adoption applications. Carol who I named Cat Carol runs the show. She is a miracle of energy and optimism. In addition to processing endless applications she does a home visit to every prospective owner from Harlem to deep into Brooklyn. Carol means business. Once when she brought Icicle (large, black female) to her new home she left with the cat soon after. She didn’t like the vibe of the grown son and they was a bag of Nine Lives on the counter. She did finally concede “I guess it’s as good as they got in the gutter.”

The boys were ecstatic about our feline family and then they went to sleepaway camp. There were those long hot lonely hours waiting for the night to come. Saturdays instead of feeling guilty for not being in Shul I’m hanging at the adoption event. I feel like an elder statesman the prospective adoptors consult with me about their character traits. Proudly I tick off their attributes (sweet, playful, regal, socialized) and I believe everything I’m saying.

There were always the sad stories such as, them being found in an air conditioning shaft or that their foster family was giving them back and they just had no place to go. Soon I have eight cats in my apt. Late night there are mysterious sounds from all directions as they climb curtains andchase each other like leopards at their prey. I’m hauling hundred pound boxes of litter (clumping/ non scented) and endless cans of food. I hold my breath and tackle the glue like residue at the bottom of the box and wipe dried poop from the floor. My brother admonishes me, “don’t become one of those crazy cat ladies.”My mom screams, “you’ll never sell your apartment” my best friend, tells me gagged walking through my living room. My real estater broker just brought lots of Glade and gingerly sprayed my rugs.

The boys came home from camp. They often times chose the cats over their I-pads or held them in their laps while the cats followed their games with eyes and paws. We have now two fluffy grey and orange sisters kittens that they fight over holding. A lot of times we all sleep in one bed and it feels like our small family of three has exploded. They also dull the void left from the loss of our pups. There are always many questions and observations surrounding every cat. “Mom I think you should take Skylar to the vet she’s sneezing a lot.”. They run jump and climb endlessly chase them around the apartment. They hold them close for hours as part of the fostering responsibility is socializing them for their forever homes.

Whiskers, claws and tumblesd vases
Diving, leaping invisible mazes
Rugs are furry smells make worry as
footprints abound without a sound
what serendipity we found felineicity
and lived happily ever after

October 17, 2017