I met Henry in July this year. He came to me with his brother and sister, Silas and Buffy, each one of them so small and spunky and trusting. They were part of the summer’s wave of kittens flooding the Burlington Humane Society’s open doors.
I’ve been volunteering with BHS for about 5 years now. Mainly my responsibilities are reception duty and cat care, feeding and litter scooping. Last summer and this summer, I was able to foster some of the incoming kittens. Let me tell you — this is the best volunteer job I have ever had! It’s such a pleasure to introduce people to their new true loves and to have the opportunity to be that person providing kindness to the vulnerable animals in our care.
So, back to Henry — I picked up the kittens on a hot July afternoon and brought them back to my home where I had a room set up and kitten-proofed (I’m no rookie at kitten care!). There were two black boys and a tabby female. They were silent as little mice for the first few hours and then they found their confidence and their voices! Three sets of huge eyes stared up at me from 2 pounds of fluff each and they let me know it was dinner time! Each one of these little darlings was happy to be picked up and cuddled and their purrs belied their size. Due to some mild tummy troubles they stayed with me for a bit longer than expected. They dutifully took their medications and worked hard on growing strong.
While they grew, I found myself getting more and more attached to them. I knew that was a danger going in—I’ve heard of many “foster fails”—that’s when the foster parent adopts permanently. However, I was an experienced cat owner—I didn’t expect to be taken in by those tiny feet and big eyes. They all clamoured for attention when anyone entered their space.
Finally, the day came when the 3 of them had been vaccinated, micro-chipped and cleared for adoption. It was time to take them to the shelter. I knew they would be adopted quickly—they were in foster care early in their lives and for long enough to be very well socialized. The female tabby, Buffy would be snapped up by the next available appointment. Both of the boys were beautiful with their sleek black fur; they were only distinguishable by the colour of their eyes and one little patch of white fur on a tummy. Like a parent of twins, I could tell them apart instantly after a couple of weeks together. Both were needy and cuddly. Silas had a touch more confidence. Henry was happy to be cradled with his belly up; not a common preference in the feline kingdom. He would look me in the eye as if trying to convey a message that I should understand. But adopting a kitten means taking on a responsibility to care for him or her for up to 20 years, through sickness and health. After saying goodbye to my old cat the fall before, I thought that maybe I would adopt another older one that needed my experience and compassion. Henry, Buffy and Silas bought me so much happiness this summer—their purrs calmed stress from my demanding job and filled a bit of the chasm left by my grown children.
So, I decided. With trepidation, I completed the online adoption application and held my breath—I knew the screening process at the shelter. It’s designed to ensure each pet has the best possible chance at finding a committed and loving home. Well, I passed! Henry stayed home while I delivered Buffy and Silas to the shelter to find their forever homes. It wasn’t a decision that I arrived at lightly, but it’s one that I will always be glad that I made.
As I write this, he walks up beside me—I feel a gentle tap on my leg. Then I scoop him up and he settles, purring on my lap. I know we will be happy together for a long time.