Written by Morgan Schunn- A PWP Volunteer and Foster
I went to Pets without Parents last Monday to say goodbye. I walked up the stairs and into the Kitten Condo where Jax had been for a month or two. You see, Jax was special to me. He was my foster for about 4 months.
I took in Jax and Lex when the power went out back in the winter and decided to keep them for a while to foster them. The first couple of days I couldn’t even touch either of them. They were both completely terrified and would hide under my bed. After a couple days Jax became a little more relaxed, but Lex was still very afraid. If I would even look at him, he would run and hide.
After a couple of weeks of working with them, and rearranging my apartment so there was nowhere the cats could hide, the two had no choice but to face their fears. I didn’t rush them. I gave them their space. But with treats and the mere fact that I was around, the two started to become comfortable with my presence. Jax quickly decided I was a friend. After just a couple weeks he would lie with me and let me pet him. Soon, he would even let me pick him up! Once Jax seemed comfortable, I reluctantly decided it would be better for him to go back to the shelter so people could meet him.
I dropped Jax off in the Kitten Condo, but kept Lex for further fostering. For some reason, now that Jax wasn’t there to play with, Lex decided I’d make a good companion. After 2 months in my apartment, he finally started to let me pet him. He would sleep on the bed with me and even purred! Yes, the first time he purred was one of the best days! I was able to help this previously weary cat through love and patience.I was able to show him what being a cat should be: lying around, getting petted, and playing!
After a couple more weeks with Lex I decided it was time for him too to go back to Pets without Parents. He went into the Kitten condo and was reunited with his brother Jax while they both waited for a home.
By this point Jax had become the perfect cat. He loved to be petted and easily tolerated being held and loved on; quite a difference from the cat that hid under my bed months before.
Days and weeks went by, until finally Jax got an application. It was approved and I was told Jax would be going home on Tuesday. Happy and sad at the same time, I went in Monday to say goodbye to my baby. Out of the 16 cats I’ve fostered in the last year, Jax is my favorite. It is amazing how he went from being absolutely afraid of people to having more trust in humans than most cats ever have.
I had seen Jax and was volunteering at Pets without Parents when I got a surprise: Jax’s new family came in to pick him up a day early. I was so happy to meet the people that my boy would call his forever family. You see, I really wanted to see him off, but I knew I wasn’t able to come in Tuesday, so I had come Monday to at least say bye. That is why I was so ecstatic when his family came while I was there!
I was reassured by the awesome family that would take my Jax and love him for the rest of his life. He truly deserved such a loving family. I was so overwhelmed that I forgot to cry. Up until now I hadn’t shed a tear when I had to give up a foster, but I was sure I would this time because Jax was my favorite. Between the apparent happiness of the family and the conversation I had with them, I forgot all about being sad. Instead of saying goodbye, I told Jax good luck. Good luck with your new home. Good luck with your new family. Good luck with the rest of your life! Because Jax now has a forever home.
It is important that people realize that, yes, it is hard to foster. It is hard to become attached to an animal that you know you will have to give up. But in the end, you are helping that animal get the life it deserves. You are also opening a space for another cat to come into the shelter. When people decide not to foster, they are choosing not to help save a life. Fostering helps not only the animals, but the people that do it as well. While having a foster pet in your home can be fun and rewarding, the ultimate reward is knowing you’ve helped your foster become the pet their forever family will love.
If you have thought it would be too hard in the past, I hope you look at this story and decide it is worth giving fostering a try. More fosters means more lives can be saved!
While Jax has gone home, Lex is still waiting in the Kitten Condo. He still hides from people, but likes to be petted. Please visit him and help me finish teaching him that humans are ok. That way he will trust someone enough to get his own forever home too.