This isn’t just one of my favourite comic strips, it’s a way of life.
I’ve almost always had cats, and currently have two old-to-ancient ones in my home now. They are sweet, and soft, and love me unconditionally (but more so when I’m feeding or petting them). They greet me at the door when I come home, and curl up with me when I’m cozy and when I’m sad (well, more like when I stop moving).
But kittens, they are not. Their version of playing is to rub their heads blissfully against their catnip toys and to curl up on my chest in the middle of the night so I dream of suffocation. I’m not even tempted to adopt kittens, opting for older, more sedate cats, and yet the power of cute is undeniable.
But did you know there are a lot of kitten pictures and videos on the internet? I KNOW, RIGHT?! Even better, a subset of the catosphere involves people who open their hearts and Instagram accounts to rescue cats needing temporary homes because shelters are full, or not equipped to deal with the very young or ill.
At some point pre-election, when the news led to anxiety and insomnia, following accounts that document the lives of foster cats and kittens became my way to self-soothe. Some accounts I later unfollowed, but the ones that stuck were the ones that told a story – or more accurately, many little furry stories, one adorable picture and caption at a time. They remain a comfort when I want an escape from the news of the day or the sadness of losing someone I loved, so I’ve come to embrace my crazy catladyhood.
One of the first stories I encountered was little Ollie, an impossibly tiny orange kitten found in a window well with badly infected eyes. The pictures were initially difficult to look at, but he got medical care and a foster home through New York’s Beth Stern (Howard’s wife) and he’s now a beautiful ginger living a pampered life with fellow blind former foster cat Wonder.
There was the time Nikki from Las Vegas was on a TNR job – that’s trap neuter release, a way of managing feral cat populations – and caught three blind kittens in her traps. The frightened feral siblings were just young enough that she thought she had a chance of socializing them and making them adoptable. As the weeks went on we witnessed the setbacks and successes, and watched as she sent Sunny and Russ off to their loving forever homes.
And we cheered when Nikki, who has fostered hundreds of cats and whose frequent refrain to commenters is “NO I’m not keeping him/her”, adopted Stella herself, unable to break the bond they’d developed.
Nikki also shared the journey of Bunny, who was rescued from difficult circumstances and nursed back to health. There was a period where it looked like the half-bald, underweight kitten wasn’t going to make it, but she now lives fluffily and healthily in a cat version of Disneyland with her forever family, who have built cat climbing walls in their loft apartment.
Cindy from Seattle shared with us little Lucy, wobbily navigating the big world with a mysterious neurological issue, and broke our hearts with the news that she had succumbed to a seizure. The animal rescue world has many heartbreaking stories, and while the accounts I follow focus on the happy journey from vulnerable rescue to adoptable kitten, the endings aren’t always happy. But we’ll always have Cindy’s pep talk to Lucy keep us going:
My current love is Ducky (aka Dove), one of seven #theWhitekittens fostered by Vancouver Islander Kristi — who is as kind and welcoming to her followers as she is to her cats. Her latest batch of mostly white babies were surrendered by the woman who had rescued the mama cat, after mama lost interest in feeding them. Ducky in particular was dangerously underweight so Kristi supplemented her kitten food with bottle feedings. Now the tiny fuzzball with permanent bedhead outweighs at least one of her sisters and is heading out for adoption this weekend, along with the rest of the adorable pack who sleep together, beg for food together, and do yoga together. Kristi’s word for what I’m feeling is shappy — sad to lose the virtual connection to these lovely creatures, happy that they will get permanent families of their own.
I’ve been saving this one for a #tbt. Look how little she is! Our little Ducky has grown into a strong, healthy Dove. Tomorrow is her spay surgery and very soon she’ll be heading off to her happily ever after ❤ #noimnotkeepingher . Speaking of adoption day…I’ve been getting inundated with messages about adopting the kittens and I can’t possibly reply to them all. You must be present at the adoption location to put in an application. I will announce the date and location as soon as I know. Unless you live on Vancouver Island then it would be very impractical to adopt one of #theWhitekittens
Shappy is what I feel about the animal rescue world, too. There are far too many adoptable animals everywhere, and too many heartbreaking stories, and too many awful people. But the foster parents of Instagram are all heart, and the kittens of Instagram make even the darkest days feel a little better, one purr at at time.