Sunday Coffee – Surrender

“I could never foster animals, I wouldn’t be able to give them up.”

This is a common sentiment that gets stated all the time from people who interact with animal rescue workers and foster parents. And certainly, it’s what people have thought of me in the past, especially after we ended up keeping Angus, Gherkin, and Ghost last year. The boys still claim that I “just wanted more cats,” which is categorically untrue – four was enough, and if I’d wanted to keep the kittens we rescued, I would have given them names aligned with our other kitties! We only ended up keeping them because we couldn’t find a shelter to work with us, the vet wouldn’t spay/neuter until they were 5-6 months old, and all the adoptions we lined up later fell through. By the time all that happened, they’d been living with us for six months and had bonded with both us and our other cats. It would have been cruel to dump them in a shelter, where they were no longer cute little kittens to be snatched up, and where they might linger for years without being adopted.

But Shai and Hulud – the only reason we could take them in was because we could foster them through a program and surrender them at eight weeks old. (Their siblings are a different issue, but we’re working on a solution that will likely be good for all.) We threw everything we had into those little girls, from bottle-feeds every two hours, to making sure they were the healthiest, friendliest, cutest little critters in their new adoption room. I loved them with my whole heart and every fiber of my being. And this Thursday, when it came time to surrender them to the shelter, I shed a tear or two, but still handed them over.

Because they weren’t mine, and they were never meant to be mine. As much as I loved them, I knew that the best thing for everyone would be to surrender them. They’ll find good homes with families who love them and have more resources than a home already overfull with cats. And because I surrendered them, I have more room and energy to take on more fosters eventually, to raise more kittens or help more cats regain their health, to socialize babies who came in from the streets or to give a mom a safe place to raise her kittens. I can work to TNR more cats from the neighborhood, and spend more time with my own cats, who have not had nearly as much mom-and-dad time over the last two months as normal.

A kitten rescuer I follow says that as a foster parent, you need to fall in love with the foster cycle. To shed a tear when you let go of a cat that has your heart, but to also know that for every cat you decide to hold on to, that’s another cat you won’t have room to help in time. Finding wonderful forever homes for these babies is the end goal.

I will miss my little Shai and Hulud. It was hard to say goodbye. But it was also the right thing to do, and I don’t regret it at all.

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
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