If you’ve read Felis Catus for any length of time, you know Carolina Cat Lover.
And if you have a heart and a soul, you love CCL’s gentle, generous ways.
It would be enough to cherish three cats of his own.
It would be generous to also adore the Tabby’s Place cats.
But CCL (and fellow hero Mrs. CCL) have launched out into the realm of lavish love by fostering needy newborns.
I’ve always been in awe of folks with such huge hearts that they can love orphan kittens enough to raise them well…and then let their own hearts break by letting them go on to forever homes.
A longtime, long-distance friend of the Tabby’s Place family, CCL has regaled me with e-tails of his family’s fostering adventures. When he recently remarked that he was going to start naming foster kittens after Tabby’s Place celebrities - such as his own one-time sponsoree, Yasmine, and current sponsor kitty Harley - I knew this was too sweet to keep to myself:
“First of all, I feel honored that Angela asked if we would consider doing a guest post on fostering for the Tabby’s Place blog. Please bear with me, as I know that this will not measure up to the wonderful way that Angela has of writing her blogs. (Note from Angela: Thank you for feeding my hungry ego, CCL. But you sell yourself way too short.)
“In starting, I would like to give a little of our background. My wife Susan and I (Paul) were born and raised in New Jersey. Twenty-one years ago, we got that yearning for a change in lifestyles and moved to the smokey mountains of western North Carolina near Asheville.
“We have 3 cats of our own, all rescued from various situations. That is what started our wanting to do more for cats. Then one day, I found Tabby’s Place online. Since we had Jersey roots, it was like a perfect match. In fact, a visit to Tabby’s Place was on our ‘to do’ list every time we traveled back to Jersey. We support Tabby’s Place, and we are currently sponsoring a Special Needs cat.
“However, there was something missing; we wanted to do more. We found a no-kill shelter here in North Carolina that was always looking for volunteers. It is quite large, and they care for both dogs and cats. Last year they adopted out over 2,000 animals, which is fantastic.
“We started by cleaning the cat cages at PetSmart every Saturday. Then they opened a thrift store. We help at the thrift store on Saturdays after the cat cages. We also assist at their various functions and adoption events. Yet, we still felt we that we could do more. When the call went out for people to foster kittens, we decided that this was going to be our next step.
“Even though all of our own cats started with us as kittens, they were older than 4 - 6 weeks. We knew that this was going to be a new experience. Our first foster group was 4 kittens whose mom was feral (she was fixed and re-released where they’d been found).
“As foster parents, our main job is to socialize the kittens and get them used to human contact and affection. They have an entire room in which to romp around. It used to be my wife’s office, and she will get it back someday. We spend hours with the kittens. They all have different personalities, and it’s fun to watch them play and interact. They also love to sleep on our laps. One fun part is that, as foster parents, we get to name the kittens.
“There are highs and lows in fostering. You feel so good in watching the kittens develop, and you know that each one will carry a part of you with them for their entire lives. Then the day comes where they are big enough to be taken to the spay and neuter clinic to be fixed, and then back to the adoption center. This is a sad day, as you know that you may never see them again.
“This happened with our first group, and we felt badly that day. But then, not thinking, a few days later I went to the adoption center. There they were in a cage, and when they saw me they stuck their little paws through the bars towards me. That was even more difficult.
“But, as I said, there are highs and lows. The next high is when you find out that, after all you have done, someone else loved them enough to adopt them. So far, two kittens from our first group have been adopted, and the current group goes back very soon. Unfortunately, we also have one of our first ones back; she had some complications after her spay, and there was no place else that she was going to stay except back with us. She is coming along, but she will be with us ’til we feel she is ready to go back.
“We are presently on our third batch of kittens, and I am sure it will not be our last. As I said, fostering has highs and lows, but the great feeling we get from doing it certainly offsets the lows. It is quite a commitment, but well worth it.”
Yes, it would be “enough” to stop at one’s own doorstep…but lavish, more-than-enough love is more CCL’s style. When this much Love has been poured into your heart, you can’t help but be a tributary, streaming it along to the ones who need you most.
Thank you, CCL, for making the time in your busy, kitten-crazed day to share your wit, wisdom and warmth with us on Felis Catus. And God bless you, our Carolina friend, for being a Mississippi-mighty river of love to the littlest ones.