With anticipation I opened up the email containing that week’s list of critters needing foster care. Many furry faces stared back at me from the list – one in particular, a beat up tank of a stray tomcat named “Hank.” I sent in my requests with my usual ending note – “whoever needs me the most.” I was hoping that Hank needed me the most. The Foster Coordinator’s reply was “I’d be happy to send you home with Hank.” I was ecstatic – but then the doubts started. He was a rough, unneutered stray cat. What was I in for with this one? I pushed aside my fears and went to get the boy who needed me.
Hank was very friendly right from the start and enjoyed attention. The poor little guy was almost totally shaved from his neck down. He looked like a hilarious little lion. Even his tail was bare – a little rat tail. His neck and ears were thick with scar tissue from cat fights; half his teeth were missing, only one fang left which had to come out later. His eyelids had cuts and one seemed to be swollen half shut. He looked like a chipmunk with basketballs stuffed in his cheeks – they were so big. It turns out that is normal for unneutered tomcats. I nicknamed him “monster”. Then, he used the litter box. I changed his nickname to “stink monster”. He reeked!
Hank seemed comfortable in his room and so I decided to introduce him to the doggies. I set up the baby gate for the introduction. He turned into a demon cat – hissing and spitting and trying to get at the dogs. Hmmm – this was not a good start. Between his hatred for the dogs and the stink I hoped his “cat cold” would clear up quickly so I could return him.
The next morning Hank was happy and content until the dogs came barreling upstairs. He scrambled under the bed to hide, snarling and hissing and claws flying. Usually I leave the foster cats in the master bedroom ensuite for their first couple of days while I’m at work but there was no way he was coming out from under that bed. I left him with the run of the bedroom for the day – hoping for the best. When I got home that evening all was well, he was happily snoozing on the bed. The dogs came in for a visit – poor Moose just about lost his nose; minor first aid was required. Under the bed Hank hid for the night. I feared it would be difficult trying to keep my doggies from being maimed by this cat.
I had been leaving the bedroom door open for Hank when I was home but he wouldn’t come out. On the third evening curiosity got the best of him. The doggies and I were in the kitchen when I heard a little meow. There was Hank, venturing in to visit with us. He curled up on the chair to nap. After this the house was his. He learned he could control the dogs with his mind and eye lasers rather than his claws.
The next few weeks with Hank were a joy. He followed me everywhere – talking and telling me about his day. He made me laugh just by looking at him – he was such a rough little lion. He slept on the bed with us every night; he even allowed the dogs on the bed as long as they didn’t get too close to him. He always used his litter box, never jumped onto kitchen counters or tables, and had no interest at all in my bird or my plants. He was perfect – except for his litter stink. I noticed he had no interest in playing – seemed he just wanted to sleep all the time. He was feeling loved and safe and needed to catch up on his sleep after fending for himself for so long.
Too soon Hank was over his cat cold and it was time to return him to CHS. My heart hurt as I drove him back to the shelter. I cried my eyes out as I left him there. I was sure he was wondering why I was abandoning him. Hadn’t he been the perfect kitty? I possessively let the Foster Coordinator know I would take him back as a foster if for any reason he needed it again. Sure enough, after Hank was neutered he needed foster care again to recover from his surgery and for his hormones to settle down. I scooped him up and brought him home. He sauntered into the house like he had never left. The doggies were none too pleased but I was hopelessly in love with Hank and glad to have him back.
During Hank’s second stay he began to change – his cheeks shrunk considerably, no more swollen, squeezable cheeks. His fur was starting to grow back – he was turning into a handsome boy. He was more interested in playing and loved chasing his feather. Best of all, he no longer stunk up the whole house when he used the litter box. He was healing. Again, too soon, it was time to return him and again I was anguished. I wanted to keep this little monster but I was conflicted. Was it fair to the doggies who still feared him? Was there was another perfect family out there for him? I didn’t want to fail at my foster duties so I decided to give him a chance at finding his forever home. If he wasn’t adopted within a month I was going back for him. That time frame only lasted a week. He was moved into adoptions on a Sunday. The next Saturday I was there for my volunteer shift. I saved the last 15 minutes of my shift to visit with Hank. He hadn’t had even one visit from potential adopters. He didn’t seem to be trying to impress anyone – he stayed curled up in his bed with only his bare, shaved back for people to see. I left in tears. It was too late to adopt him that day but the next day my husband and I went in to bring him back home for the third time. Third time’s a charm – and permanent. The doggies must have known “that cat” was coming back to stay. There was barf on the floor when we got home.
This foster fail was meant to be. Hank was meant for us and we were meant for him! Everyone gets along just fine. Yes, his nickname “monster” has stuck however he is a handsome, happy, healthy kitty. He still has somewhat of a rat tail, his eyes are still runny and his ears are gibbled but we love him just the same! He’s our prince. He’s got cat class and he’s got cat style!
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent please visit our website HERE.