oops, i forgot to update: boris and natasha were indeed adopted, straight from surgery. i emailed their mom today to try to get an update.
PSA: if you adopt an animal, please send occasional updates to the people who cared for that animal before you. shelter staff, volunteers, and fosters get very attached to the animals for whom we care. photos and videos are wonderful, but even just a quick note to let us know that the animal is still with you and happy. because that is what we want and what we work for. and most of us have had our former charges die, be dumped or returned, or have challenges in their adoptive homes, so we worry. those little updates are breathe-easy reassurances that at least *this* one is okay.
and if yours *isn't* okay, don't wait until it's exasperating, frustrating, and end-of-your-rope ready-to-give-up kind of stuff. ask us for help and advice. we want you and the animal to be happy together. i've done consults with adoptive families in their homes, via email, via text, via phone, via facebook, via messenger, you name it. i know aspects of the animal you might not yet, i might have experienced issues like yours before and have some solutions to suggest, and i know other people who will if i haven't.
okay, that's today's psa. the new fosters i brought home wednesday are a pair of seven-year-old bonded brothers, patch and muffin. from what i gather from their intake paperwork, they lived their whole lives with one woman (no other people and no other animals), and then she died three months ago. her grown child took the boys in but discovered cat allergies and surrendered them to the shelter.
they are wonderful boys, but they are terrified. in the shelter, the only space for them was a regular cage to share, and they weigh 12 and 15 pounds (so, not small). they were completely shut down. hiding, afraid, and, as i can only imagine, confused. so the shelter hopes that being in a foster home can help them adjust and flourish.
because they are large adults, i didn't put them directly into a cage. the only one i currently have set up in the foster room is the kitty condo, which is great for kittens but isn't really built for large adults to jump from shelf to shelf. i could have used a dog cage, but it's still snug in there and i thought they would be okay with free rein in the room. but it means that they have successfully hidden under the sofa most of the time they've been here. (note: this is *not* the ideal for a foster room. this is why we recommend that adopters and fosters keep the animals in a bathroom, or at least another small room: there can be spaces where the animal can feel hidden and safe but is never really inaccessible to you if you need to get them. we really screwed up buying this sofa for the foster room. it's beautiful [but of course covered with slipcovers and blankets to protect it] and comfortable, but it provides a nice hidey-hole for a cat.)
so the first few days of operation muffin patch™, i hung out in the foster room for a few hours at a time just to get them used to me being around and my smell. i keep dry food and fresh water out for them 24/7, but i put out canned food only when i come into the room. and i try to pretend to ignore them as much as i can, so i'm not threatening to them.
with the hiding place, though, they really never had to interact with me at all. they could just wait to eat, drink, stretch, or use the litter box until after i left the room. so i moved into the room again like i had while elvis and priscilla and boris and natasha were here. and it's helping. they've *had* to come out of hiding at least a little while i'm in there. since then, they've become a little less afraid of me. muffin has slept on the back of the sofa
and explores the room a bit, and today he even came out in broad daylight for the first time. he sat in the middle of the room grooming himself, even when he knew i was awake and facing him. and he ate right beside me, within easy reach. but i have resisted trying to pet him.
i haven't seen patch come out of hiding, but they are faithfully using the litter boxes across the room, so i know he is. i can hear them snoring and stretching under the sofa, which makes me happy. any little sign of progress toward relaxation.
i cry when i think about how confused they must be. missing their human and wondering when she's coming back and why they had to leave their home. and although they are not aggressive at all, i expect that it's going to be a while before they are adoptable. it's fine with me for them to stay as long as they need. they are a breeze to take care of compared with kittens, even easy kittens. i think my only challenge is going to be getting them to their first few vet checks—before they trust me enough to let me handle them, which is a must to get them into their carriers. i'm hoping that i can skip the first one next week and that i can handle them to get them into a carrier by the four-week one. wish me luck.