After waving goodbye to Bronwyn the foster cat, after looking after her for 11 weeks, I'd become restless for a new cat pal. I'd always presumed there would always be a new cat needing a temporary home, but actually, for my local RSPCA at least, this isn't the case. I imagine this is because its a temporary foster unit in itself, so any cat that is ready to go off to be adopted, goes out to the world to get adopted. So I ended up signing up with a second charity as a fosterer - Feline Friends London. They offer a slightly different service from the RSPCA unit near me, and they're well known to each other. Feline Friends says "We help elderly & disabled people who benefit from pet ownership, work together with local authorities, social services, the NHS, the police, the RSPCA, local vets & other animal charities to promote neutering & good cat welfare." And this is how I ended up with Ron and Jerry.
Both cats came from a group of 4, and their elderly owner has been taken in hospital. I was so motivated by their story, as without a charity like Feline Friends (and its fosterers) these cats would end up as strays, or adopted out to permanent homes. I love the idea of trying to facilitate them going back home, should that become possible. It would be heartbreaking for someone to return home after a hospital stay and not have their family of cats anymore.
They came as name-unknowns, so after our first night together, I picked names for them. Ron the big ginger dude is named after Ron Swanson, and Jerry is named after Jerry Gergich, both from the TV show Parks and Recreation. Ron had the grumpiest old man face, and just looked so serious, even when having a cuddle, and Jerry was so shy and unsure of the world.
When you foster, you know that cats are traumatised with the change of scenery and may take a while to settle, however, this foster arrangement just proved too much. It turned out that big boy Ron would yowl all night. I live in a studio flat, so the cats sleep in my room, which means when they yowl from midnight to 4am, you are also up til 4am.
After 3 nights, I couldn't take anymore. I'd tried the sprays, and even some pills from the petshop, but I was exhausted and stressed out. I felt terrible, but I had to say I couldn't keep Ron. We'd believed Ron wasn't neutured, and I had some hope that once we snipped him, his apparent hormonal drive at nighttime would disappear. I took Ron to the vet to get the snip, but it turned out he'd already been done! Such a fail! Ron was collected from the vet by a new fosterer.
I am not an overly emotional person, and don't often cry, but as I walked home in the rain (pathetic fallacy or what?) I cried a little. I felt like I'd failed, not tried enough, let people (and Ron) down. What if I'd waited a few more nights, with my newly purchased earplugs? Maybe he'd have settled down.
But of course, I'm being too hard on myself. Ron is still being taken of, hopefully in a home larger than mine. Despite Jerry trying to be friends with Ron, he seemed very disinterested in him, so although he tolerated a cat friend, I don't think he'll miss him at all. Ron didn't enjoy my frustrated shouting at night time either, when all my rational patience had worn thin, so it wasn't a happy place for him either. And of course, the plan is that this is all temporary. He wants to go outside, but fostered cats have to stay indoors; its just the nature of the beast. We're keeping them as safe and as happy as we can, until their permanent home is available. And I really hope both Ron and Jerry get to go home. If they are unable to go home, having them separate would make them easier to rehome too I suppose.
In addition, trying to stay positive about my failed fostering of Ron, Jerry is a very shy and nervous cat, and having him as a solo cat is already helping him massively. He's braved the bed for the first time, and had his first play. This is not only good for his happiness, but if he doesn't get to return home, his rehoming options will be much better if he has more confidence.