Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Foster fail: Do you really fail when you keep a kitten?

Fergus the siamese kitten in the sunshine

In essence, a cat foster home is a little like a human baby NICU. A foster parent provides around-the-clock, and sometimes critical, care for wee animals that just aren't healthy enough to adopt out to average families.

At the end of this little stint of caregiving, you're meant to give the little kittens back to the shelter, so they can be adopted. If you do not return the kitten and instead adopt it yourself, the kitty you keep is a "foster fail."

That's what happened with Fergus here. He was scheduled to head to a home with his brother, but that adoption didn't go as planned. So I kept him here with me. He's technically a foster fail.

Fergus the Siamese kitten stretching

But it got me to thinking. Is this really a failure? I'm not so sure.

When you work as a foster parent, you know a ton about the kittens in your care. You know what they like, what they don't like, what they will eat and what they will reject. You know what sorts of environments make them happy, and you know what environments tend to stress them.

In short, you're in a great position to work as a kitty matchmaker, when you're emerging from a foster kitten contract. And sometimes, you find that the best match is your own home.

Let's consider Fergus.

This little guy was the peacemaker of his litter. When his littermates started to mix it up, he jumped in to break up the action. He was the first to snuggle with humans and dogs. And he was the only one out of all three kittens that Popoki could even slightly tolerate.

Now, I have a full house. It's true. But I also have a house of kitties that just don't love one another. Maggie and Lucy will tolerate one another, but they have never recovered from the death of Eamon. They never snuggle. They never play together. They never groom each other. They're like roommates. And they both wander behind me a lot of the time, wailing with loneliness.

Fergus could change that. In fact, he already is changing that. Here he is just 6 hours after his initial introduction to the girls. Everyone is out, everyone is relaxed. And just a few minutes after this, everyone was thinking about playing.

Cats sleeping in a community

Popoki will be a tougher sell. And to be honest, I haven't introduced him to her formally quite yet. But it's quite possible that he'll be able to win her over, too. And if he does, it will be because I picked him specifically to integrate with her.

So is this failure? Or is this the best kind of matchmaking out there?

I'm not sure. But I do know this. If you have room in your life for a kitten and you've been wondering how to pick the right one, consider working as a foster. You'll help that little one, AND you'll have an opportunity to get a kitty that's the right fit. Just contact your shelter to find out more.

And in the interim: Welcome Fergus to the menagerie! You'll be seeing a lot more of him in the months to come.


  1. Fergus is such a cutie! I think this is not a fail at all. On the contrary! Fergus has found a loving home and a big family :)

  2. Aww, welcome Fergus! I like your take on this. :-)