Fostering a homeless mama cat and her kittens has become an annual spring ritual for our family.
Really, it is a life-enriching situation for everyone. My daughters (okay, and me too) get their fill of tiny paws and claws, we provide the overflowing shelters some extra room, we save the lives of beautiful, healthy animals, our commitment is typically only 6 to 9 weeks — and someone else gets a fabulous companion down the line.
This past spring was like the ones previously. I sent an email announcing our availability as a foster family. However, the matter-of-fact reply I received back hit me in the gut like a punch from a 300-pound linebacker:
“Thank you for fostering a cat family. Attached are photos of 32 kittens and their mothers. Please let me know which family you prefer and I will pull them from the shelter. They are all slated to be euthanized on Monday.”
WHAT?!! I looked at the pictures with tears spilling, my throat tightening, my heart aching.
How could I choose just one family knowing the rest would be euthanized within three days? I looked at the pictures again. One litter had three fuzzy white kittens with hints of caramel tabby stripes; another had four kittens, all grey and white except one sibling which was a solid Halloween black; another litter had two kittens, one an orange tabby, the other a calico. They all looked through the bars of their cages imploringly or with the natural curiosity of kittens. Little did they know how their fate dangled in such precarious balance. That is when I declared to myself emphatically, “they will all live.”