6-25-21 Friday

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Back in May, when I mentioned that May 19th marked 16 years since our very first litter of fosters and that we’re up to 442 cats and kittens fostered, someone asked how many of those were “foster fails.” I told them I’d have to get back to them because I didn’t know.

Well, now I do: 10. The first 5 were the focus of yesterday’s post; the last 5 are today’s post.

WARNING: 2 of the 5 foster fails in this post have passed away. If that might make you sad, I understand completely if you want to give this post a miss.

Foster Fail #6: Corbie.

Corbie came to us in 2010 as one of four tiny kittens left under a bush near where Fred was working at the time. We named them after literary characters from some of our favorite books (Corbett, Reacher, Rhyme and Bolitar) and called them The Bookworms. They initially tested positive for FIV (they ultimately re-tested negative, as kittens who test FIV positive tend to do.)

By the time they had tested FIV negative, there were a lot of kittens waiting to go to Petsmart ahead of them, so they stayed with us even longer. By the time the glut of kittens cleared up and there was room for them at Petsmart, they were all very scared of strangers, and all four of them ended up back with us. I truly thought we were going to end up keeping all four of them, but in the end everyone but Corbie was adopted. At that point I suspected we’d be adopting Corbie, but it was another month or so before I asked Fred his opinion on the subject and we agreed to go ahead and make it final.

If you were a reader back then, you probably remember me CONSTANTLY GUSHING about how gorgeous Corbie was. He was one beautiful boy, and I couldn’t stand how beautiful he was. Not only was he gorgeous, he was super-sweet and loved being petted, snuggled, held. He did have a physical issue, though – the muscles in Corbie’s back end weren’t as developed as they should have been. We weren’t able to determine exactly what was wrong – the vet did tests and found that there’d been some muscle damage at some point, though we don’t know when or what caused that. Skeletally, he was perfect. More than one vet suggested that it could be due to his being born to a mother who was FIV positive. He got around fine, he was able to walk okay, but he couldn’t really climb, he couldn’t jump, and he didn’t really run – but it didn’t affect his quality of life at all.

Corbie passed away unexpectedly in January 2015, at just under 5 years old. (If you haven’t noticed yet, 2015 was an absolutely awful year for us.)


Foster Fail #7: Alice.

On a VERY COLD December evening in 2010, Fred stepped out onto our front porch where there was a heated cat house (one he’d made for permanent resident Maxi) to see if Maxi was there. Maxi was not there, but what was there was a small kitten, who fled as soon as she saw Fred. Fred yelled for me and I came running (how many times do you imagine one of us has yelled “There’s a kitten!” to the other? About a million times, I’d guess) The kitten had run off the front porch to a huge boxwood by the side of the house. The bush was so big that we could see her in the center of it, but had no hope at all of reaching her (and she would have run away if we tried, anyway.) We stood out there for a LONG time (it was very very cold) trying to coax the kitten out, and finally Fred said that we should set our trap on the front porch baited with sardines. We did and then needed to run to town to return a movie we’d rented.

(Y’see, children, back in the olden days when you wanted to rent a movie, you had to go to a store and browse through their selections, pay to rent an actual physical disc, and then return it the next day if you didn’t want to pay an additional day’s rental on it.)

By the time we returned about 20 minutes later, the kitten was in the trap. At that time, my rule was that cats couldn’t come into the house until they’d been tested and treated for fleas. So we set the kitten up in our old chicken coop (which was a really solid little building) with a heater, a soft place to sleep, and plenty of food. She was pretty wild the first night, but by the time she’d been with us for a week, she calmed down a lot and fell in love with Fred. Due to her size, we thought she was about the same age as our then-fosters, the Brady Bunch litter – about two months old – but when I dropped her off at the vet the following week, we learned that she was actually six months old. Once she was deemed disease-free and had been treated for fleas, we added her to the Brady Bunch litter and named her Alice Nelson.

She was intended to go to Petsmart with the rest of the Brady Bunch kittens, but she developed a raspy sound to her breathing, so we needed to figure out what was going on there. She was ultimately sedated and scoped, and they didn’t see anything but a little scar tissue near the top of her trachea. Since it was determined that she was physically okay, and because Fred wouldn’t admit that he wanted to adopt her, she went to Petsmart. For one night. The next morning, we went back and adopted her. The vet had told me that Alice would probably remain small and likely wouldn’t grow to be more than 5 pounds; she currently weighs 11.5 pounds. (Yes, she’s a bit portly and could probably stand to lose a little weight, but certainly not 6 pounds.)

Also, the raspy breathing thing is something she’s grown out of.

Alice is still with us, and just turned 11. She adores her Daddy, ham, and while she doesn’t have much use for her brothers, she can occasionally be spotted playing with Jake, Charlie and even (very rarely) Archie.


Foster Fail #8: Dennis.

Dennis came to us in 2014 at around 4 months old – he had been neutered and vaccinated, he was just sitting at the shelter and needed some friends around his own age to hang out with (he’d been rescued near the feral colony where the kittens we were fostering at that time – the Players – had come from, and they were about the same age, so it was a good fit.) He had a good time hanging out with the other kittens, and when they went to Petsmart, he went with them. But something scared him, and when the volunteer who was cleaning the cat room that day showed up and reached into the cage, poor Dennis LOST it. I went and got him and brought him back home with me, thinking that possibly we might be able to get him adopted from our house. I tried to find him a home – lord knows I tried REALLY HARD – but in the end it turned out he was meant to be ours. Just over 7 years ago, I posted that we were making him a permanent resident.

I loved Dennis so very much – he was the sweetest boy on earth. All the other cats got along with him, I loved waking up in the morning with him snuggled up against me. He was a good uncle to the foster kittens – just an all-around wonderful boy. (Also, gorgeous, but you can see that.)

In November 2017, we lost Dennis. We had workmen in the house doing work, and to be safe we decided to put most of the permanent residents in the foster room, and Archie in another room. We somehow overlooked Dennis (Fred thought I’d gotten him, I thought he had), and Dennis escaped the house while the work was being done. We spent hours searching for him, but in the early hours of the morning he was struck and killed by a car, and it’s something I still kick myself about to this day. If only I’d counted, if only I’d realized, if only… He was only 4 years old.


Foster Fail #9: Dewey.

Dewey (then named Dustin) came to us in November 2016 at about 8 months old as a foster. He was a very scared and skittish boy, and Susan at Challenger’s House asked if Fred would work with him and perhaps help make him a more confident kitty. Before he went to Challenger’s House, he was discovered living in an industrial park alongside two other kitties; we assume they were dumped there. (You’re going to ask me what happened to the other 2 cats, and I have no idea. Whoever rescued Dewey wouldn’t have left them behind, so it’s a reasonable assumption that they were less scared than he was, and were adopted out.) Fred worked with him and convinced him that people weren’t so bad – he remained skittish around me for a while longer, but that’s no longer true. He proved to be a cat’s cat – absolutely adored Stefan and the other cats had no issues with him as well. After about a month of us fostering him, we decided we couldn’t stand the idea of him going to Petsmart, and so decided to adopt him.

(At the time Fred was, for some reason, calling him “Willis.” Neither of us really thought he looked like a Willis – or like a Dustin, which was the name he had when he came to us – and at some point Fred suggested Dewey, and it felt right.)

In the years he’s been a permanent resident, Dewey has gone from being a cat’s cat to pretty much going his own way. While he enjoys the occasional petting and has no issues with the other cats, if left to his own devices he ends up hanging out happily by himself watching birds out the window, or curled up in some out of the way place. He’s also decided that my phone (which is what I use to take the vast majority of pictures) is The Devil, and if he sees it pointing his way, he flees. I thought this might be an objection to Apple products, but when I switched from an iPhone to Pixel he had the same reaction. I guess it’s just all phones; he reacts the same way to cameras, though. Maybe he just doesn’t want anything pointed at him! In any case, this is why you don’t see as many pictures of him as you do the others.

Dewey is still with us, and is 5 years old.


Foster Fail #10: Charlie.

Charlie came to us named Aramis in July 2020 as one of the Mewsketeers litter. He had been discovered/rescued by fellow Forgotten Felines volunteer/foster Steve in the same basic area where Ryder and her kittens were rescued 3 years ago. He was about the same age as Alexandra’s kittens, and she was willing to mother him, so he joined them. When they came here, he was about 6 weeks old. Fred pointed him out nearly immediately as being a particularly good-looking kitten, but I thought nothing of it (he does that a lot.) From the very beginning he was a sweet laid-back boy who got along great with his foster siblings, but was also just as happy to hang out by himself.

I had no intention of adding him as a permanent resident, but as his foster siblings started getting adopted and there were fewer kittens in the foster room, his personality really started to shine through. Not only did he get along well with his foster siblings, but he made friends with grumpy ol’ Uncle Archie, and then he and Jake became good friends, too. I started to think that maybe keeping him as a permanent resident might be a possibility, given how well he fit in with the rest of ours. And then came the moment when he saw Alice walking across the room. Alice tends to find kittens scary, and she will often hiss and run away from them, which often makes them think it’s a game – they chase her, she’s even more scared, it’s a vicious cycle. However, when Charlie headed toward Alice, she stopped and hissed at him… and he changed directions and went off to do something else. He was so good at respecting her signals that that was what clinched it for me. Super sweet and friendly with Fred, respectful of Alice, and BFFs with Jake and Archie (and now Khal). He was the perfect fit – and he has continued to be so. And the fact that he’s so good with fosters is just the icing on the cake.

Charlie is still with us (obviously), and turned 1 on June 2nd.


Every once in a while Dewey holds still long enough for me to get a quick picture before he races away. He’s nice like that (rarely.)


2020: The kittens have met the Churu, and declared it tasty.
2019: “What? You said I could have as much pizza as I want!”
2018: The philosopher Betty White once said (I’m paraphrasing) “The best way to get over a litter is to get under a new one.”
2017: Paws up, y’all!
2016: it’s a “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” situation.
2015: Louis was all ~FLOOF~ and ~HISS~ at Jake, who ignored him.
2014: Gilbert, lookin’ for trouble.
2013: Norbert Desmond is ready for his closeup, Mr. DeMille. (Also: the Starks!)
2012: “Seriously. Do you SEE this?”
2011: No entry.
2010: Elwood’s all “Nope! No room in the basket! No room for a little kitten! Sorry! Move along!”
2009: Gone campin’.
2008: Kaylee would like you to know it’s a rough, rough life.
2007: Now, the Snuggle Sack has some of that crinkly stuff in it so that when a cat climbs in, it crinkles.
2006: No entry.
2005: No entry.