How Fostering Animals Forces You to Be Compassionate (From a Crazy Cat Lady)

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    Yes, I am that crazy cat lady. Yes, I spend more money on my animals than I do on myself. Yes, I lose sleep so I can care for ailing cats. Yes, to all of the above and more.

    Let’s start by saying that I have never been a “cat person”. I grew up with dogs, and brought two more into my family soon after moving out on my own. When the opportunity came to foster needy animals, I just did not have the space in my tiny city apartment for another pup with my two large breeds.

    So, I compromised. At first, I took home bottle-feeder kittens that needed to be fed and stimulated every two hours. Yes, I set an alarm and woke up every two hours to feed them. No, I did not have a newborn that woke me up… I guess I was just out of my mind. One day, a needy little kitten that had been left outside during the early winter and was on death’s door found me at the local shelter. I ended up nursing this little girl back to health, naming her Evie, and she became my first foster fail.

    Ever since then, I have become known for my foster cat “preferences”. Yes, I have preferences on which foster kitties I’d take home, and they are not what you’d expect… I grew to love the tough cases. The ones that seemingly have no chance and aren’t likely to make it (many of them don’t), those with incredible stories and adversities (like my second foster fail, Figgy, whose pr evious parent put hydrogen peroxide on her eye when she was three weeks old and created a mess of dead tissue that had to be removed shortly after), and those will special needs. I like the cats that require a lot of care and a lot of time. I like waking up early in order to medicate and smear cream on self-inflicted gashes. I enjoy taking many home that need me, just as much as I need them.

Evie

My first foster fail furbaby, Evie.

    When you see the things I’ve seen, you’ll know how fostering cats makes you a compassionate person. You see, cats want nothing in return from you, other than unconditional love. Like most animals, all they require is some attention (and maybe some food here and there). If you force medication in their mouth and they feel better a week later, they will love you forever. If you buy multiple different foods and things to add in to troubleshoot what they’ll actually be enticed to eat, chances are, you’ll be their friend for life. If you provide “dying cat emergency care” and inject fluids into their bodies in order to keep them comfortable for their last days, they will appreciate your efforts even if they are unsuccessful and you end up being a sloppy, crying mess on the living room floor when one of them passes away or has to be euthanized.

    Don’t get me wrong, fostering cats is not for everyone. Fostering the kind that I do is not for the faint of heart (can’t handle a bloody eyeball bulging out of a month old kittens face, eh?). But fostering an animal, any kind of animal, helps make you a better person. No matter the situation, it forces you to be a caring and kind individual. It creates this bond between you and a seemingly hopeless being. They need you, and in return, you end up needing them. It’s strange to say, but this relationship sets the stage for others in your life. I stopped being so judgmental and started being more understanding. Everyone’s situation is different in life, and you never really know anyone’s true story, no matter how much you try.

   At the end of the day, I have loved each and every one of my foster animals. Hey, they’ve even taught my big dopey pit bull, Bruce, to be a kinder, gentler giant! What more can I ask for? I’m a better person because of all of them, and hopefully, they are in a better place because of me and the unending efforts of every foster parent out there.

-Halle

aka Crazy Cat/Dog/Animal Lady

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