Failure.

A year and five days ago, we said goodbye to the best cat ever.

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Maybe I’ve told this story before, and maybe I haven’t, but either way, here it is today: I picked Jake out from the shelter solely because I felt bad for him. He looked cranky. He was ugly. No one was looking at him. He was a scrawny, 16 week old kitten (a whole month older than the other bundles of fur at the shelter) who was hiding in the back of his cage, glaring at the world with one eye. When I petted him, he just sat there stiffly. The name on the cage card was Winky, or maybe it was Blinky. I sighed and told my mom I wanted him. My brother picked out an adorable fluffy white kitten with a black tail who purred when you looked at him. I tried to trade cats with my brother on the car ride home. He refused.

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Over the next 13 years, Jake saw me through high school, through college, and into my first home with Turtle. He ushered many other pets through my homes, including my childhood home, college homes, and houses thereafter. He put his fair share of dogs and cats in their place – not to mention some ferrets and rabbits.

The year that he has been gone has been a hard one. I kept expecting it to get easier, but it hasn’t. I miss his insistence on being in my lap; how he would run up and demand attention; how once he was snuggled up against you, that was all that mattered. As amazing as Piper and the dogs are, none of them has filled the cat-shaped hole that Jake left.

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sometimes, Jake would just reach up and gently touch your face. sweetest thing ever.

In the past few years, we have fostered many animals. We have had three puppies, one dog, and at least 4 cats – and we have not kept a single one. None of our pets are previous foster pets. We are good at fostering: we take them in, fix them up, and send them back with some cute pictures and a blurb about their personalities. We are not weak! And so it is just a little bit of a surprise that we find ourselves failing.

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the face of failure: elegant, yet slightly defective, with a crooked, malformed right leg

We stopped by the shelter “just to look.” I put that in quotes, but we really were just looking. We didn’t hit it off with anyone, but we asked if there were any cats in back who were, ahem, “defective.” Or missing body parts. Because, as Jake proved to us all, cats with missing body parts are the best cats. While the shelter had no cats who were actually missing limbs, they did have one guy in a cast, so we offered to foster him.

When we got him home, he hid. I was relieved, because, really? We don’t need another cat. We’ll take him, fix him up, bring him back… and within moments of my saying that, he was on Turtle’s lap. Purring.

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this is literally the picture of when he hopped onto her lap in the first 20 minutes of having him. the beginning of being doomed.

We are doomed.

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snuggled against me and purring

I have to clarify, this little guy (dubbed “Noah” for now) is not Jake. He is also completely confined to one room, so we don’t know how he will do with Piper or the dogs. But for now, that cat-sized hole that Jake left is filling up.

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on Turtle's lap and purring

Being doomed is not the worst thing.

6 Comments

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6 Responses to Failure.

  1. My husband and I suck at fostering. The first litter of kittens we ever had featured five fur balls. We kept two of them. Fail. Kudos to you and Turtle for any successes at all.

  2. I agree that “defective” animals are even more special. I am also a failed foster, though I’ve found homes for a few cats that have been in my care, it’s hard to give them up if you fall in love. He looks like a sweetie.

  3. lyn

    Yeah, I have to admit, he is a super cute cat! No replacement for Jake, but no wonder you were sucked in.

  4. Shaylin

    You’re in good company! (He’s a cutie!)

  5. That is one adorable kitty! In this case, failure is the best things that can happen to you! However, I might be biased because my family failed at fostering just this week.

    Backstory: on a whim, I signed up to adopt another Westie through a local rescue organization. (My five-year-old Westie gets along better with Westies than any other dog breed). We went through the whole home visit process and finally decided to foster for a variety of reasons… mainly, I was the only one who actually wanted another dog. My boyfriend loves dogs, but had sworn them off before he met me because he was so sad when his passed away. He and Riley get along fabulously and he adores her, but he had no intention of adding to the pack. Plus, his daughter had been wanting to get a dog of her own, but we’d been saying no for a variety of reasons (cost, time commitment, loss of flexibility, etc etc etc). So… fostering was the seemingly flawless solution to our issues. We could have other dogs at home, socialize Riley, enjoy them.. and then send them on their way. We all swore before we began fostering that we would not keep any of the dogs.

    Well, the call came on Tuesday night: a dog was going to be surrendered to the organization on Wednesday, and he would need a foster family. He was sixteen months old and his family was giving him up because they didn’t have time for him – he was spending 12-15 hours per day in a crate. Could we take him? Absolutely.

    Well, I had a crazy day at work so my boyfriend went to pick up the pup from the vet. I managed to run home for lunch and meet the little guy as they were getting home. Well, one look and I was completely smitten. As it turned out, so was my boyfriend – he had fallen in love as soon as he saw him at the vet. Watching him interact with Riley over the next few hours was so adorable. At best, Riley is antisocial and apathetic to mostly everything. At worst, especially on her own territory, she is aggressive. But with Sparky, she was playful and permissive. They wrestled joyfully all afternoon. When we took them for a walk, for the first time ever, she didn’t have to be ahead; she let him pass her.

    When his daughter got home, she was also immediately smitten and her first question was, “Soo… I know we talked about not keeping him… but….?”

    Fortunately, we had already decided that we would. I emailed the rescue coordinator immediately. We set the record for foster failure… it was about eight hours.

    As I type this, Sparky is snuggled up to my side. He’s so happy to be here. Despite some serious issues with submissive urination, which have improved drastically in just 72 hours, he’s an amazing dog. And I think he’s pretty happy to have some freedom and love. The craziest thing of all? Even though none of us wanted a second dog, now that we have one, we’re all thrilled about it.

    Sorry for such a long rambling comment… all I’m saying is, foster failures are the best kind of failure!

    Also, I’m really glad you’re posting again. I love this blog!

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