Saturday, January 25, 2014

Update: Outside Kitty--OR--My First Adoption

This is the outside kitty from my last post.

It turns out that, in my last post, I was wrong about a couple of things.  I was wrong, for example, about the fact that outside kitty was reverting to feral.  She's very tame, in fact, and I don't think she actually wanted to be outside.  The photo above was taken during the last cold snap we had here in MD, about 2 weeks ago.  This cat was in our yard, hunkered down in that makeshift bed we'd put out, all afternoon.  She did not leave once.  In fact, she cried the whole time she was hunkered down in that bed.

We went out to run some errands, and my boyfriend and I discussed it and decided, together, that if she was still around when we got home that evening, she'd be coming inside.  Well, she was, and she did.  When we got home, she was hunkered down on our stoop in the yard, visibly shivering.  It was clear she did not have a place to go, after all.

By this time, we'd been feeding her for at least a month, so my boyfriend had given her a name:  Marbles.  She's a tuxedo, but the pattern on her back is broken, making her look, to him, like marble.  (I had been calling her "Pepper" in my head, but did not want to name her for reasons stated in my last post.)

We were able to make a room for her in our downstairs bathroom, and we brought her makeshift bed in with her, to make her feel at home.   We took her to the vet, had her checked out, and put out the word that we had found a cat.  We even went next door to try to talk to them, but they never answer their door!
  
  Marbles, awaiting adoption.

When we realized we would not make any headway, we put out the word that we were going to put her up for adoption.  Now, a couple of weeks later, still no word from anyone in the neighborhood.  No knocks on the door, no response to my email to a neighborhood list, no one answering next door, no LOST CAT signs. I've been conflicted about this, but my boyfriend pointed out that if the owners really cared, we would have heard something (or seen a sign or something) by now.

We had a couple come forward right away wanting to adopt her--a friend of a friend and his wife--so they came to meet her last weekend.  We will take her to be spayed in a week or so, and a week or two later (depending on what the vet says), they will take her home.

We have set and adoption fee, but it's not about making money.  In fact, I don't expect to recoup anywhere near all of my costs.  Asking for a fee is about weeding out the bad element (people who look for animals for fighting bait or sell them to labs or are just sick and do awful things to animals) and about making sure the adopters are serious and committed to the animal for the life of the animal and that they will take proper care of the animal.  It's not about snobbery, contrary to what some people may think. It's about the safety and welfare of the animal.

This is my first adoption ever.  My five remaining cats came with me from an old relationship.  My ex and I thought we'd be rescuers, but I learned pretty quickly that he was not able to let go.  (I have thought back over this, and I now know that I did not have this problem. I would have been OK with adopting them out.)  At my peak, I had ten cats.  I have kept them all, and my numbers have come down naturally.  I do not plan to get to that level again.  

Anyhow, back to my point:  This is the first time I have ever tried to adopt out an animal.  I have questioned myself every step of the way:  Is this the right thing to do?  Is it OK to ask for money?  How long do I keep the animal?  How do I know for sure the adotper will be a good one.  The truth is that, as an individual doing adoptions, you can't know for sure.  You can't control every part of the equation.  What you can control, you do your best at.  It's very important to listen to your intuition, as well.  If anything feels off about an adopter, even if they are prepared to pay the fee and seem to know animals well, etc, you listen to that intuition, and you move on.  Also, while the animal is in your possession, you treat him/her as your own.  You integrate them with your pets. You feed them the way they need to be fed.  You take them to the vet if they need it.  You love them and spoil them and train them just like your own.  ...Because that animal is yours until you find a home.

At this point, we are integrating Marbles.  She comes out in the house during the day when we are around to supervise.  When we won't be around and at night, she goes back in "her room."  In another week or so (pending her surgery), she will probably be out all the time in the house.  She and most of my cats are ignoring one another.  A couple aren't happy with one another, but they will work it out.

...And I know I will cry when she goes to her new home, but I will know that it's the right thing.