Paws, tails, and foster fails

These are what fur fam­i­lies are made of

Animal Scene - - CONTENTS - by Michiko Manalang

Fate some­times has a funny way of bring­ing a lit­tle fam­ily of cats to­gether. For Remi Ralte, for­tu­nately, the twists and turns that led her to even­tu­ally adopt Pi­rate were fu­eled by the very best of in­ten­tions.

Pi­rate is just one mem­ber of the band; though they’re all spe­cial, he stands out be­cause of his one eye – and be­cause he wasn’t orig­i­nally meant to stay with Remi. Pi­rate is what the res­cue com­mu­nity calls a “foster fail”, re­fer­ring to a res­cue that one only in­tends to take care of tem­po­rar­ily, but for one rea­son or an­other ends up be­ing part of one’s furry fam­ily in­stead.

We talked to Remi about her ex­pe­ri­ence with fos­ter­ing and what made Pi­rate stand out to her.

AS: So, Pi­rate isn’t your first cat? Remi: [No.] I adopted two cats prior a few months be­fore him, and over the years, my fam­ily and I would take care of cats that friends could no longer take care of.

AS: How did you come across him?

RR: I first saw Pi at the gates of the condo [where I lived]. He must have been just a few weeks old at the time. He had an in­fected eye and I was con­stantly [ar­gu­ing] with my­self whether or not I should take him. At the time, I also wasn’t al­lowed to have pets, so that was an­other hur­dle.

AS: What led you to foster him in the first place?

RR: A few months after I saw him around my condo unit, my then-part­ner found a photo [of Pi­rate] that some­one up­loaded on­line. He and I later met Claire Brid­don (a cat­sav­ior for the less for­tu­nate fe­lines of BGC), who asked us I if we could foster Pi­rate for a month as she was leav­ing town for some time. Pi had just had surgery to re­move the in­fected eye and he needed to be with peo­ple who could help with his post-op care. We were un­sure [at first]… but Pi­rate’s story and sit­u­a­tion led us to agree to just foster him and see how things went after that, then we’d de­cide again. We re­ally thought [it would all be] tem­po­rary.

AS: At what point did you re­al­ize Pi­rate wasn’t leav­ing your house­hold?

RR: To be very hon­est, from the mo­ment we picked him up from the vet where he’d just had surgery. He was so sweet [and he liked] be­ing car­ried by us that we fell in love with him and felt that he might never leave. It was ac­tu­ally the very next morn­ing that we felt that his place at home would be more per­ma­nent, mostly be­cause of how he got along with other cats. AS: Can you talk about past foster suc­cesses?

RR: Pi­rate is the first cat [whom] I’ve taken in with the in­ten­tion to foster. I’d say that this sit­u­a­tion was a unique one for ev­ery­one in­volved!

AS: How does he get along with your other cats?

RR: This is the best part for me. WE’VE done so much re­search about introducin­g new cats – talk­ing to friends who had sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences, watch­ing a lot of Jack­son Galaxy videos on the sub­ject – and wor­ry­ing about the cats not get­ting along.

[All of it] for noth­ing. Dur­ing his first night home, Pi­rate had some­how man­aged to get out of the en­clo­sure that we made for him, and we found him and the other two cats all sleep­ing on the bed to­gether. All three of them were grooming each other.

There hasn’t once been an in­ci­dent where things got too far when they play with each other. They’ve been cud­dling, play­ing, and eat­ing meals to­gether since day one. I know that this is a very rare oc­cur­rence and I’m so thank­ful that the three cats loved each other since the be­gin­ning. Or so I’d like to think.

AS: Do you ever think about what might have hap­pened if you hadn’t taken him in?

RR: Yes, I do think of what could have hap­pened to Pi, or the other two cats (Penn and Patches) if [I never had them]. I some­times feel guilty that I didn’t take Pi home sooner than that day at the vet.

I won­der, if he were adopted by some­one else, would he be just as happy, hap­pier even? What would have hap­pened if no one did any­thing at all? If he hadn’t had help get­ting his eye op­er­ated, would the in­fec­tion have got­ten so bad that he’d suc­cumb to the in­jury and die? The what-ifs scare me quite a bit but I’m so grate­ful that he’s now a part of my life.

AS: Do you have a mes­sage for peo­ple look­ing to foster?

RR: Make sure that it’s re­ally a foster sit­u­a­tion. I know it’s dif­fi­cult when a bond’s been made and you have to hand over a mem­ber of the fam­ily. Know what you’re get­ting your­self into, es­pe­cially on an emo­tional level. Also, de­cid­ing that things aren’t work­ing out with a pet and dump­ing them at a street cor­ner is not a solution to a de­ci­sion that wasn’t thought through.

AS: Do you have a mes­sage for peo­ple look­ing to adopt their first cat?

RR: Whether you’re think­ing of adopt­ing a cat or a dog, re­mem­ber that you’re bring­ing an­other life into your home. Please make sure that your life­style will also suit their needs, and not just yours. If you need to leave them for long pe­ri­ods of time, or need to be out of town for work, re­ally con­sider this be­cause spend­ing time with them is just as im­por­tant as giv­ing love and at­ten­tion to a hu­man child.

Also, please neuter your pets! It’s so heart­break­ing to see so many dogs and cats on the street who each de­serve a warm home and lots of love. If you’re think­ing about it, but aren’t sure, bor­row a friend’s cat or vol­un­teer to pet-sit to see how things go.

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