Romance novels and cats have always been my passions from a young age. I remember at 13 years old being angry at my stepfather for denying me another kitten and vowing that I would never marry a man who didn’t allow me to have unlimited cats. I neglected to mention this to my husband when we got married. I’m guessing he wouldn’t sign a belated prenup 14 years later. Lucky for him he doesn’t dislike cats, but living the apartment life forced us to keep only one cat, Buddy.
Since about age 4, I’ve never been without a cat for longer than a few weeks. Whenever I lose one, I always tell myself I’m going to take time to grieve, but find myself at a local shelter within two weeks selecting a new furry companion. I once had a purebred Siamese cat that I loved, but I know getting a pet from a shelter is best.
According to American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals, “Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats).”
In the last year, we moved into a large house and talked about getting a dog. I’m not a dog person, so I didn’t jump for joy. The appraiser joked we needed some kids and more pets to fill the house. I always assumed we would have a child someday — one — but recently we shelved the idea. The door isn’t slammed closed on the idea of adopting a kid, but I’ve never felt that driving need to have one. I subscribe to the idea of living a happy and fulfilled child-free life, as long as I pursue other interests and passions.
Enter Greybeard and Gimli, my foster kittens.
I heeded the plea for volunteers to help foster kittens through a local Facebook rescue post. Why not? I had space and less work because of the pandemic. The rescue lady agreed to provide all the supplies and find homes for them. I only needed to take care of them, give them medicine, and aid with socialization.
She brought me these two pathetic looking 7-ish week-old kittens, and my heart ached for them but Nurse April was on the job. I would have them healthy and ready for their forever homes lickety-split. My husband helped name them. They are short-haired tabby cats, one grey and the other orange. The grey one became Greybeard, despite his beard being more white. We named the orange one Gimli after the dwarf warrior in Lord of the Rings.
The poor babies needed 5 different medicines for weeks, but within two weeks they turned into adorable fluffs of energy that would run zoomies for an hour before crashing. They stayed in my work office because I needed more excuses not to work. I would spend hours watching them scamper around while I attempted to work (and take videos, and photos, and sigh at how delightful they are).
Then the trouble started.
Any seasoned cat owner knows that every once in a blue moon you run across an incredible cat. This doesn’t mean that other cats aren’t wonderful, but sometimes you mesh with the personality of a cat and the bond becomes magical. My last amazing cat, Zoey, died 10 years ago. I still mourn her death and thought I would never find another Zoey in my life. We got Buddy afterwards, and Buddy is a good kitty. He’s well-trained and I love him, despite him having a slight attitude problem that requires medication. But he’s not a Zoey-cat. Zoey-cats are those mystical cats that grip your soul. Everything they do is adorable. They only have to breathe and you melt.
Greybeard is small, adorable, and a complete lover. He’s not that bright, but he makes up for it in charm. His brother Gimli is the smart one. If you play with a wand toy with them both, Gimli is the kitten that looks up to figure out what is moving the toy while it thrills Greybeard to stalk and pounce on the swishing toy. He doesn’t care how it works. Greybeard took several weeks longer to get the hang of covering his mess in the litter box, and Gimli would climb in after Greybeard to cover it up. Luckily, Greybeard got with the program and is doing it himself now.
Whenever I walk in the office, Greybeard’s purr motor kicks in. He doesn’t care why or what I’m doing, he just purrs. Gimli is wary of me because he knows that certain times of the day are medication time, and he detests taking them. Every night I flail around the room trying to catch Greybeard at bedtime, but Gimli climbs into the three-tier kennel on his own and watches the show. I can already envision future Gimli. He’s going to be a well-trained, great kitty.
I’ve always desired to own an orange cat. I’ve never had one. I’m also partial to smart cats, so I expected Gimli to be the one it would crush my soul to give up. But Gimli isn’t a Zoey-cat. I’m not saying it wouldn’t hurt, but Gimli is the type of cat I would give to a rescue and be happy knowing his forever family would love him. The shelter only adopts out bonded kittens together, so keeping only one isn’t an option… if we were thinking of keeping one.
Which we weren’t, right?
We struggled with indecision for weeks. Financially, now is not the best time for us to be taking on two kittens since I am working less. Our older home has been a money pit. They built the house in the 1940s and I swear things keep breaking every week. We sunk a sizeable chunk of money into optional upgrades also, which we shouldn’t have done, but we’re happier with a remodeled master bathroom. We vacillated back and forth for weeks. One day we’d proclaim there was no way we could give them up, the next we’d look at our budget and change our mind. A decision to keep them would take me away from my goal of fostering. I can’t handle more kittens while taking care of two rambunctious little ones. I only have so much energy and time.
Last night we watched the movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. We brought the kittens out to the living room with us. We kicked back in our dual electric recliner couch, while we each had a kitten nuzzled into our neck for the whole 109 minute run time. They would sleep for a bit, wake up, and purr. Then they would stretch out their little toe beans and spread down our chests before falling asleep again. My husband snuggled with Greybeard, so I kept glancing over at the love of my life cuddling this tiny bewitching lovebug.
Only a stony heart could say no to that.
So meet our new kittens, Greybeard and Gimli. I’m officially a failed foster parent.