I just received my 105th feral foster kitten. I know, crazy, huh? Before I started Marin Friends of Ferals in 2009, I was mostly a dog person. Now don’t get me wrong; I love all animals. But dogs were more my cuppa tea. Or so I thought.
In 2005 I noticed a large colony of unaltered, hungry feral cats on a hillside. I thought — Hey, someone should do something about that. Then I realized I was that someone. So I learned to trap these often nocturnal animals to have them altered and vaccinated.
I’m here to tell ya, this work generally means crawling through bushes, shimmying under decks, wading through creeks, venturing into drainage pipes — all mostly at night by flashlight. In other words, I was made for this.
Here we are 10 years later, a nonprofit currently rescuing cat number 2246 for TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return). We help feed over a hundred ferals each month and also foster and socialize feral kittens for adoption. Thus far we’ve helped 698 find cozy family homes. No more living in the wild for these felines.
Fostering feral kittens is what I imagine being a grandparent is like: you take them for a short while, spoil them with toys and treats then give them back. All the benefits without any of the responsibility. Sorta right down my alley.
I named my current foster Gilbert. I only name them when I’m certain they’ll become domestic. It’s somehow harder for me to release them back in the wild with names. Gilbert only took 4 days to become attached to my lap. Now he’s like Gorilla Glue; I can’t shake him.
Whenever I pet him, he sees that as an invitation to make his way to my head where he plops himself down. I’m not opposed to wearing hats but I don’t look good in cat. Don’t have the right head shape for it.
I’m partial to orange cats and this tyke with his pale blue/green eyes is quite the looker. I have to tell myself not to get attached because my own 3 cats are plenty. Of this I’m almost certain. And with 3 dogs, I already have enough trouble keeping myself fur-free.
There’s actually no perfect color of clothing for me because my animals’ fur encompasses many color zones: white, black, red, buff, orange and gray. So at any given time I’m wearing fur like it’s an accessory.
Can you believe the other day a friend actually plucked fur off my face? It was either that or one of those wiry lady chin hairs; I can’t be certain. Anyway, I’m a walking hairball.
Back to fostering…there’s nothing like bringing home a frightened kitten who’s hissing and spitting at me with ears as flat as the Flying Nun’s cornette, then watching his transformation.
Each kitten is different; some I need to ignore until they stop seeing me as the devil incarnate. Others I carry around the house in my homemade sling. Some I can feed from my hand on the second day or release from the holding cage on the third, like Gilbert.
Best of all is the day when they gaze at me with affection, knowing I won’t hurt them; that I’m the good guy. That’s my favorite time, when that kitten becomes adoptable. Then I bring home my next prospect and start all over again.
Animal rescue comes with many emotional challenges; it’s often physically and mentally draining. In fact, sometimes I think I just might lose my mind. But I suppose that would be a fair trade because it’s also where I found my soul.
Some of our rescues: