My Brief Life as a Cat FostererPosted by: vicky April 11th, 2016
When Syama died in July last year, I had made the decision not to adopt any more cats, and hoped no more cats would find me (as I've seemed to have had little choice in most of the cats who have lived with me over the years, they simply appear in my life). I decided to foster instead, and was asked by a very small rescue group to go and pick up a 2-year-old female cat in Streatham. The woman was waiting for me, worried I wasn't coming. Diamond looked petite, thin, frightened, and with little fur on her back. She had been prepared to leave her alone in the house for four days so I had rushed over to pick her up.
Back home, as she emerged from the carrier, I saw that she was in fact a he. And Diamond moved immediately into a small place in the bookcase. I placed a towel in front for privacy, as research has shown that giving cats the opportunity to hide can help them relax more as they are given time to adjust to the new smells and noises of this foreign environment.
I visited many times during the day offering dishes of food and water just in front of the towel, and sliding some behind in case that was easier for him.
Two days later he emerged very affectionate, squashing himself into me. He ate and ate and ate. And I supplied however much food he wanted. Eventually, his appetite subsided.
Then it was time to be neutered. The vet informed me that Diamond's lymph nodes were enlarged even when under anaesthetic and that could be due to the stress or something else, and to have him checked out in a month. A month lated Diamond was found to be FIV+. I was then instructed by the cat rescue that from now on, he would have to be an indoor cat. It was then I knew I was going to adopt him.
This concept is one I will always struggle with as through my work I have seen that an indoor life for such a free-spirited creature seems totally anathema. Cats need to explore, sleep in the sun, feel the earth, run wildly through bushes, hide in the long grass, inhale fresh air, enjoy the changing seasons, different vegetation, eat grass, and express their hunting nature, even though most cats I've ever known have hunted leaves/dandelions. I refused to accept that Diamond could no longer have these opportunities and began researching enclosures and moving closer to the countryside, where property was cheaper so I could free up some money for the Diamond fund.
In the end I stayed, and found a reasonably priced cat fencing company that would enclose my entire garden. However I needed to replace most of my fencing, so my anticipated costs were double. Luckily I had been inundated with work - all very timely. So we enclosed the garden, restored the cat walks that had been put up for Nimai and Syama, and built a castle for Diamond from which he could survey the garden and feeders.
Even though Diamond has the 60-foot garden, I still find the idea that he can never leave it, hard to come to terms with.
All in all, he seems to be 98% content as he has 24/7 access to the garden, which is also now being planted with more cat-friendly plants such as catnip and lavender for starters.
Below are a few companies specialising in cat enclosures in case your cat is diagnosed with FIV, so there are options besides confinement to the indoors.