Guest Blogger: Katie Tontala
I was so thrilled when I heard that Animal Friends’ medical staff had gotten Myrtle’s health issues controlled and felt it was safe for her to continue on the next step of her journey – going to a foster home. I couldn’t wait to bring her home and felt it was befitting to do so on the day before Thanksgiving.
Myrtle was not very happy with me the first few hours after I brought her home. I knew she was very frightened – who wouldn’t after a long car ride, getting settled into a new crate with new smells and new faces. There is a beautiful little poem that that talks about the deep peace that fills an animal the first night they are taken into a foster home and how they sleep deeper than they have ever known. After a few hours, I peeked in on her and found her curled up in her little bed, her little head tucked into the crook of her arm and I knew we were going to work this out.
I spent a lot of time the first few days just sitting by her crate and letting her know that I wasn’t a threat and ignoring any hisses or growling that she sent my way. Knowing we had to get a trust established, I made no attempt to touch her.
Since we don’t know for sure what she can actually see, I applied a scented hand cream every time I was near to help her recognize that it was the same person nearby…and to associate that scent with good things.
From the work done by her team at AF, I knew Myrtle was a tuna junkie so I knew I had a way to bring her out of her shell. It didn’t take long. By the third day, she was approaching me when I opened the door of her crate and sticking her little nose into the spoon with the smelly tuna. A little cat who loved food – a girl after my own heart!
At the time of writing this post, it has been about 10 days since she has been in foster and we are making great progress. We have a routine established and she waddles to the edge of the cage whenever she knows I am in the room (whether it is feeding time or not). I open the crate door and give her little scratches behind the ear and along her cheek. Then she smells the can in my hand and waits (impatiently) for me to put the food in her bowl.
This is the joy of fostering – being able to give that consistency, that one-on-one time and sense of security a quiet home can bring. Making differences on small step at a time. Myrtle and I still have a ways to go, but, as a foster mentor once told me, “You have to love fostering. Where else can you volunteer in your pajamas?”