Saturday, November 24, 2012

Follow-up on Foster the Cat

One question I get asked pretty often by people who've read my family's story is this: What ever happened to Foster the cat?  

As I've mentioned, my mom is not a big fan of felines.  We had various pet cats while I was growing up and my parents had a cat named Sport who had passed away a year or so before my dad got sick, but Dad was always more the cat person between the two of them.  

I think I can speak for my mom when I say that there were no regrets about having gotten a cat for my dad after he got out of rehab; his Bucket List had been revised in such a drastic way when he got sick, and there weren't a lot of things on his list during that time that he could do because of the impairments that came from the tumor and because of the treatment he was undergoing.  Getting him a kitten was one of the few requests we could fulfill for him, and we were happy that his wish was able to be granted.  

Dad loved having Foster; in fact, he said that getting Foster was the "second best thing" that had happened to him since he'd gotten sick. ("The first best is having my kids and my grandkids around more," he said.)  He and Foster napped together and hung out together, and, when they weren't doing that, Dad enjoyed watching Foster play.

Unfortunately, though, Dad didn't get better with the treatments; in fact, he got worse, and he was only around for about six weeks after Foster joined the family.  

Mom didn't want a cat.  She had two greyhounds, one of whom was elderly and in poor health, and Foster tormented both of them.  He constantly tried to escape whenever an exterior door to the house was opened, and Mom didn't want to have to worry about him getting lost or hurt outside.  With Dad not around to take pleasure in Foster anymore, we agreed we needed to find a new home for the cat.

But this wasn't just any cat - it was Dad's cat - and, other than Dad's car, it was the first time we had to make a decision of what to do something of his - something he had loved, even if just for a short time.  Something he should still be around to love.  Ouch.

So we didn't want to let just anybody have him; ideally, we wanted him to go to a home with children to play with and to a family that would report back to us periodically about how he was doing.  I felt like it would be like losing a part of Dad if we lost track of Foster, and all of us were already battling against such sadness that I didn't want one more loss to add to the mix.

A couple of my parents' friends offered to take Foster when they heard about our situation, but neither had children and we thought Foster would be happier if he had some kids to play with.  Both of my sisters and I considered taking him, but all three of us already had two cats each and we weren't sure the younger, more energetic Foster would fit in.  

Taking a cat nap in a gift basket
Six weeks after my dad went on ahead, my siblings and I and our spouses and children all gathered again at my parents' house; because my dad had expressed his desire to be cremated and the cremation couldn't be completed before some of the family needed to leave town the month before, we had planned the memorial celebration for a few days after his death and the burial several weeks later so we could all make it back for the service.

That weekend, we talked about what would be best for Foster, and, to our delight, my brother and his wife offered to take him back with them and their two children when they returned a few days later to Philadelphia.  It seemed like the perfect solution; they already had one cat but thought she and Foster would work out any differences in time as needed.  

We were apprehensive about how Foster would behave on the plane ride, but they reported that he did fine. (Don't tell the airline, but he even got to get out of the carrier and sit in my niece's lap for awhile on the flight!)  

Since then, he has adjusted to living with them, and he and their first cat Greta have called a truce.  I know my dad would be glad that his cat has such a great life, playing with my niece and my nephew and going inside and outside as often as he wants, and we are grateful that he ended up in such a good place and that we get to hear funny Foster stories so often.  

At home with my niece, who is showing
him a photo of my parents

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