On Being a Foster Mom

Fostering kittens has been an emotional roller coaster for me.  I went into it (sort of selfishly) thinking that it would make me feel good and altruistic and warm and fuzzy, plus I’d have adorable kittens to play with – bonus!  I’d find them perfect homes, and get to feel really good about myself.

The Toronto Cat Rescue is pretty desperate for foster homes.  I did my phone interview on a Thursday evening, and by Friday evening I had not one but two teensy tiny eight week old black kittens quarantined in my bathroom.

Meow! - photo cred: Vanessa Lorenzon
Meow! – photo cred: Vanessa Lorenzon

When I first got my own cats a decade ago, they were pretty skittish for their first few days, and were happy to hide in the bathroom and slowly adjust.  These kittens could not be more different: they purr if you so much as glance in their direction, they were playing within two minutes of being here, and they had figured out how to scale the baby gate to escape their quarantine and explore the condo within an hour.  This despite the fact that there are, in my condo, two ten year old lady cats, a two year old doberman, and a golden doodle that I’m boarding.  These little monsters are fearless.


When they came to me, they had awful names that I flat out refused to use, so for the first few days they were “little black cat number one” and “little black cat number two”.  Near day seven, I figured I should get around to naming them.  Thinking that I wanted them to attract nice creative types, I named then Picasso (the Boy) and Sappho (the girl).

That is also about when I started getting attached; coincidence?  I think not.

I knew in the realist part of my brain that I couldn’t afford two new kittens, didn’t really want to have another two multi-decade commitments at this point in my life, and that I couldn’t give them the love they deserve with all the other animals I already deal with.  But, deep down, there was a little part of my brain that started dreading the two week mark when I’d have to post their adoption pages.


They were starting to feel like my cats.  I worried about them while they were at the vet getting fixed and microchipped.  I bought them wet food and dry food and toys and treats.  I held one in a hand and let their constant purring soothe me while I did my normal household tasks with the other hand.

My kittens, ten years ago, had little panicky meltdowns when I’d trim their nails, and I had to swaddle them in a blanket with only one paw out at a time to avoid injury.

These two?  The first time I trimmed their nails, the lay in my lap calmly purring, paws out, as if to say, “Of course I want a manicure.”  When I was done and put the clippers down, they stayed on my lap and kept purring.


Picasso was ready for adoption before Sappho, as she recovered from her spay.  “Black cats are tough to get adopted,” I was told (baffled, since I have four black cats in 800 square feet), “so you might have them for a while.”

Picasso got adopted 48 hours after his profile went up.  When the woman was coming to meet him, I was a wreck.  I bit my nails and paced.

Then I met her, and she was lovely, and totally smitten by Picasso.  She had already bought a ton of kitten supplies, and he warmed to her immediately.  She cooed at him, and he purred, and it felt right.  And that altruistic warmth I had expected to feel finally arrived.  I was at peace with it, and in that second, I realized that I wasn’t his mom; she was.  And that’s how it was supposed to be.

We still have Sappho.  She’s ready for adoption, but her profile hasn’t gone live yet.  I’m sure she’ll get scooped up quickly – she an angel, and who can not love those adorable white toes?  I know that when someone comes for her, I will again feel that peace.  I’ll miss her, but I’ll sweep the bathroom, clean up, and enjoy some quiet before the next fosters come along.

Then, we start again.


3 thoughts on “On Being a Foster Mom

  1. Your kittens sounds like our Rainy. She’s fearless too!

    We started to foster her in August. If fostering had any chance of working out, giving her a name was our first wrong step.

    By the time our other two cats started to play with her, Rainy had won our hearts. We adopted her in September.

    Congrats on your fostering successes! After three foster fails, we’ve decided fostering is for everyone else. ;-)

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