Wednesday, October 18, 2023

The Irony of Fostering

A number of people have remarked regarding Brazil’s trial-adoption - and others cats’ adoptions - that fostering isn’t something that they could do, because it would be too hard on them to let the cat go. I find it indeed quite hard sometimes. There are those whom I would have liked to keep; recently, Percival and Hector come to mind. And, yes, Brazil.

There is an irony in fostering animals for their eventual adoption. We foster-guardians must come to know the cats who live with us, in order to provide the best care. Not only that, but we must know them in order to provide the best future home. As loving as many families may be, not all would have suited Brazil. The one to which he has now gone will suit him; the couple there understands that he may never be a cuddler or a lap-cat - though that possibility, especially in a new environment with new people, exists - and he is there primarily for their cats’ companionship, and secondarily for the people.

It is to keep the cat safe and loved until the right family comes along that there is fostering. It is to become so well acquainted with the cat that the foster-caregiver knows what he needs, when he needs it, how, and how much. To adopters, we can say - in so many words - ‘This cat may not be best for you, and vice versa, but we think this other one will thrive with you, and you will enjoy him immensely.’

But, as I wrote, there is an irony in fostering animals. We come to know them so well that they become our friends, and a great part of us want them to stay. Sometimes they do. Renn, Tucker, Cammie and Imogen came to me as fosters, and were eventually adopted. But most must move on.

Aside from the fact that some cats in my care simply don’t get along with others, and it is better for them to go when adoptions come through for them, it must be considered that other homes than mine will be better for the cat. There will be more time, more money, more companionship to be given; if there is first a capacity to love the cat, then these other factors must be considered. Kittens especially would benefit from younger, more active families. Temperaments sometimes don’t complement mine, however much the cat and I might like each other. And then there is the fact that, while another home may be equally good or better than mine for a cat, there are many cats who have no home, and who may benefit from being in mine. That is why sometimes I take in a new cat as soon as one moves out. It is not a matter of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ but, rather, ‘out of home - who now needs one?’ This weighs heavily on me.

I think that as long as I feel gladness at the cats I miss enjoying their new homes and people, as long as I am happy for them, relieved and content, then I will continue to foster. The day may come when I cannot. But by then, I will likely be too old to do so, anyway, and there will be no more cats for me. At that time, I will remember my fosters, and know that my contentment, through their happiness, and that of their adoptive families, will live on.


  1. I do hope Brazil will finally find a permanent happiness. I found it interesting that this couple was so anxious to adopt him, even knowing that the adoption would be a difficult one.

  2. You do good work for the un-homed cats. That is the most important factor to remember. These lucky cats who get adopted, will be forever in your heart and memory.

    1. I could not be a foster parent for cats. Dogs, yes, but not cats. They become part of me. You have the best attitude and that is what makes you such an excellent foster care person. You are able to look outward far better than I could, while you love the cat and care for it. You look toward the cats best interests and life.

  3. We hope those adopters choose to keep you up to date with your former fosters.

  4. Katie is quite correct - your attitude is what makes you such a wonderful foster parent, John. I would have a very rough time giving up an animal that I have grown to love, especially one with physical or emotional needs that I have "nursed" along for awhile. Fosters are very special people - they do something I definitely couldn't do. God bless them!!

  5. Not something I could do, fostering is so important though

  6. That's one time it must be so difficult to do the right thing and send them on their way.

  7. I can only imagine how difficult that is, John. Thank you for being an amazing foster parent.

  8. We and many others are grateful for all those who foster. It is hard to let them go, but the greater good like you say is why you DO foster.

  9. My 3 cats have come from foster homes. It is very important to me to know the "attitude" of the cat ... will they be a good fit ... etc etc etc ... so I realize how important fosters like you are. I keep in contact with my foster parents, a lot in the beginning and then a couple times a year after that. (2 cats came from the same lady from the same group so that makes it easier) I'm not sure I could ever do it though ... maybe some day ... not today. Blessings to you .... and I'll await your next kitty in need .... and look forward to hearing that story and thank you so much for allowing me to go on that journey with you. 🐾🐾