Rescue cats – this is our Story
If you have read my introduction on the website you would have been introduced to all of my cats, both that have crossed rainbow bridge and the ones that occupy my home and life today. But I’ve wanted to go into this deeper, and I’ve wanted to share with you the greatest feeling of purpose that I have felt over the years of rescuing cats.
As much as I would love to rescue them all, I have rescued a total of 6, keeping 5 of those 6 and fostering 1. So this is the story of how I came to share my life with my cats, and how I came to falling in love with cats thanks to them.
This is my story of why I feel it is so important to rescue cats, both for the cats as well as for the emotions that come with it, that we probably all know too well. Shelters are inundated with the amount of cats that have been abandoned and that are homeless. The amount of cats that go into the shelters that never get placed into homes are astronomical! This is why I find it so important to speak about this topic.
How it all started for me
My very first cat was Sasha, she was not adopted through a shelter, and to be quite honest I had no idea what I was doing. I was 22 and already married. I felt that something was missing in my life. One would think that the logical thing is to just have a baby – well, we were not ready for that. Yes, we got married young, but we wanted to at least wait before we brought a child into this world, being children ourselves. But that’s a story for a whole other blog and topic! So I was feeling empty, I have always been the kind of person who would find an abandoned bird and bring it home to see if I could help it grow, then eventually set it free. I would bring “Christmas beetles” home and put them into a cup each night, only to find they all died or flew away the next day. I would come home with shoe boxes of Silk worms that I would keep until they cocooned and flew away as moths. So this was who I was, growing up. I loved animals, I loved all species of animals – I had an unspoken amount of respect for those that could not speak or fend for themselves.
Getting back to when I was 22 however – I felt the need to have a pet, I needed that bond with another species other than my husband. This is just who I was, and to this day who I still am. So, I went out and got myself a budgie. This was great, I was happy but I felt that I needed something more. This was the beginning of the end. Sasha was my very first cat, and like I said above, I did not rescue her from a shelter, but I do feel I rescued her in some way, and her me. She was so small and fragile in a cage when I first saw her, and when I brought her home and she showed her diva personality I was in love, immediately. Sasha taught me so much about cats, and I will forever be grateful to her for that. Sasha crossed rainbow bridge 3 years later. To this day I have no idea what caused her death exactly, but I believe it was a heart attack. We aren’t sure, but I get peace knowing that it was quick – this is what the vet told us anyway.
When Sasha was about a year old I found Dizi. He was so small and on the brink of death when I found him. He was so loveable, and he was so trusting after decided to keep him. We really grew to experience all there was to know about cats with Sasha and Dizi. Sadly, 2 months after Sasha died, Dizi fell ill with F.I.P and had to be put down. I was devastated. My first 2 cats were outdoor cats, and they lived a lush life in the village where we stayed at the time. But, I still believe that if they were indoor cats like my 3x boys are today, they would still be alive! I don’t regret my decisions, or choices for Sasha and Dizi to be outdoor cats. They were happy, they were so content with life – they taught me so much! I look at my 3x boys now and think I could never let them out. I went through so much losing Sasha and Dizi so close to one another that I could not imagine going through something like that again. So, my boys are strictly indoor cats. Yes, they’ve had a taste of the outdoors, but I have them on harnesses when and if they go out. I do feel this is torture though because it is confining them to be able to do what their immediate instincts are – chase, pounce, stalk. So, I’ve decided not to do that. If they are indoor cats, so they are strictly indoors. They live a great life. They have so many things that keep them preoccupied – when they are awake that is. They have each other, and I know for sure that they would not ask for it any other way!
Fostering a cat
If you ever decide to foster a cat I can tell you this – it is so rewarding to give a little piece of yourself to a kitty who you are going to help find a forever home for, and the human who gets him/her will know that they are getting a kitty that has been well taken care of. This is how I felt anyway. In 2014 I found a kitten – the same way I found Dizi in fact, at work and he was full of dirt and so small. I took him home, but I knew immediately that I would not keep him. It had nothing to do with my feelings towards him, because I bond with every cat that comes through my front door. It was not a decision I took lightly, but I had to make that decision quickly so that I could mentally prepare myself from the very beginning that I was going to give him up. I named him Widget, he was a tuxedo cat and he was very similar to my Scotch. He was with us for about a month, then I managed to find him the purrfect home.
What I found rewarding about fostering Widget was this – I knew that he was safe during the crucial time in his little life – as a kitten that was possibly abandoned by his cat mom. I also knew that I would be preparing him for a home with a human that I approved of, and I knew that he would be in the best forever home because I would not accept anything less. The lady who adopted Widget had recently lost a cat, and she had a gaping hole in her heart. She saw the pictures of Widget (I put pictures of him up on my Facebook page, and this lady was a friend of a friend) and she fell in love with him. I immediately got a message telling me that she is interested in adopting him. I was thrilled. It made it easier knowing that she was someone who was known by someone I knew. I didn’t just accept the adoption however, I first asked for her to come to visit and see if this little boy is really what she wants, I also went to see her place and after all was said and done, Widget had found his forever home.
I cannot say whether I would foster a kitty again, but it definitely was rewarding, at the same time the most difficult thing I think I’ve had to do – after losing Sasha and Dizi anyway.
I currently have three cats, we found Scotch going on three months ago but it was so different with Scotch. I just could not imagine giving him to another person. He belonged with me, he was outside my gate, I found him, I got him used to people, I could not imagine giving him up and knowing he had to go through all of that stress all over again. So this is why we decided to keep Scotch. But I can say this, three is my limit, if the cat gods put another kitty on my path, I will have no choice but to strictly foster. It is rewarding, but it is tough. If you ever feel that you could do it, I totally recommend it. But you have to be ready to give away a kitty that you’ve grown to love in a short space of time.
My story I believe is just the beginning. My three boys are so happy and content. My three rescues! Travis was adopted from a shelter, Sancho was rescued from being sent off to a pet store, and Scotch was found outside our gate, so tiny, so fragile, so scared. These three boys are my kids; they are my life. I would do anything for them. Next time you feel you need to bring a new kitty home, please consider the shelters. Please go and have a look to see how you can help them in any way, even if it is volunteering, fostering, providing food – whatever it may be. I have so many plans for this website and a lot of them will involve the shelters in and around South Africa. But I thought, let me start here – lend a hand, help the shelters – adopt don’t shop! Let us all be a part of a bigger story!
I have heard it so many times in my life – “My cat does not get along with my new puppy, looking for a good home for it”, or, “My husband is allergic to my cat… looking for a good home”. This just breaks my heart to be honest. A cat comes with so many responsibilities and is a lifelong commitment. The moment you feel the need to get a cat you need to consider everything that could come your way with this little feline. Don’t let it be an impromptu decision, it is one that should not come lightly, because at the end of the day, if it turns out to not suit your way of life, you will be to blame, but the cat is the one who suffers.
The festive season is upon us, and us humans just love to decorate our homes with the brightest, shiniest decorations we can find! This is great, but how safe is it for our kitties? Do you feel safe leaving your cats at home alone with all these goodies that could potentially cause harm them? Here are some do’s and don’ts over this festive season when it comes to your furry feline companion that you might have overlooked.