My foster cat is gone. He was rescued from being put down two weeks ago. During that time I've fallen in love with him. He's one of the most wonderful, charming, sweet, silly and chatty cats I've ever known. He's my poor Stanley, reincarnated. Stanley, the cat I only had for five short years, who died suddenly and unexpectedly from HCM. Stanley was the only cat I ever chose to be mine. He didn't find me. I found him...on Valentine's Day. He was proud and serene; a gorgeous, tuxedo Maine Coon. He was the one. The cat who all others would be compared with. He died almost five years ago. I still miss him.
Now I've found a cat who is so like Stanley that it breaks my heart to let him go. I feel the same sense of panic and burst of adreneline I did when I was told I had to put Stanley down. There was nothing more that could be done for him, regardless of the money I was ready to spend on helping save his life.
So what do I do when I find my Stanley again? Do I let him go? I already have too many cats. I already spend too much money caring for them. It would turn my house upside down, since most of my cats would not appreciate a newcomer. It would, frankly, suck. Even with all this, I want him to stay. I've spent every second I can with him. I even left my own bed to sleep with him one night.
Being with him was like being home with my old friend. I felt completely different with him, but I knew with each day that passed, there'd be one less day we'd have together. As the time to leave grew near, the tears began and my gut started to ache. I laid on the bed and from across the room, the cat cried out. He came over and sat next to me, then put his paw on my forehead. He didn't extend his claws. His paws were soft and warm. I think he knew it was time for him to go, too. He was saying; "good bye."
His new family arrived with a tiny cat carrier. I had no idea how they were going to fit the cat into it. When the cat saw them, he ran and hid. N. said it meant he wanted to stay with me. Ahh...if only.
They didn't stay long. I think they knew they needed to make it quick before I changed my mind and tried to stop them. The cat barely fit inside the cat carrier and he gave a hiss to his new dad, then looked up at me through the metal grill in the top of the carrier. His pupils were dilated with fear. I wanted to rip open the top of the carrier and take off with him, but I didn't. I made a joke about it and I know they only live a few miles away, so he wouldn't have to be uncomfortable for too long.
I completed my task as a proper foster; I let him go to his new home. That's what I'm supposed to do. This place is a weigh station for cats, not a final destination. That's how it works.
I didn't cry or look sad in front of his adoptive family. I didn't even flinch when N. asked me if I was ready to give him up. I wasn't. I won't be. I did, anyway.
I've come to realize that I've been practicing a sort of remote intimacy with my foster cats. I love them, with a sense of detachment. I take great delight in the painfully cute kittens. They're so magical when they're tiny. Each moment is a gift. My heart swells when I hear them purr for the first time or when they begin to have confidence in their place in the world, but I never feel this badly when they go. I never feel so torn about them leaving.
After the cat and his new family left, I cried. All my fear of being parted rushed out in liquid pain. I felt afraid I made a mistake. I tried to remind myself of why it would be a bad thing to keep him.
My eyes sting from crying, but I know it's all for the best. He has a new home. I will help save more cats.
If it's for the best, then why am I so sad?