I know this because my den door is open and the room is empty.
I know this because Fatboy is strutting out of the bedroom quite pleased with himself in true bully fashion.
I know this because I have not yet sat on the bed to release the Kraken. And when I do, she’ll find me.
And when she finds me…
There will be love.
How it started
During a particularly brutal storm a day or two before Christmas Eve a few years ago, my neighbour texted a photo of a kitten that had triggered the Ring camera in his yard. We had just secured another kitten, whom we named Chibi Toofless (like so many feral cats, she was suffering badly; she had a severe tooth infection that would have likely killed her), and so we had a trap handy. It took about two or three hours for my friend to report that we had secured the second kitten. We nicknamed her Chibi Tailless. She had been attacked by a predator and had suffered a spinal injury. Her tail was broken in a right angle at the base, and half of her tail had fallen off or been severed by the predator. Again, the reality for so many feral cats is a life of suffering and pain.
Chibi Tailless soon became Ripley, for having survived a predator’s attack. She needed her own room because she was somewhat incontinent. She would leak pee. We put puppy pads everywhere to catch the leaks, and gradually her leaking stopped for the most part. But here’s the thing. Ripley didn’t have the usual trepidation and skittishness of most feral cats. She was, from the very beginning, deeply affectionate. She loved to be held, sought to be held, wanted her face and ears scratched. She was, in a word, adorable. And of course, we fell in love.
Lisa and I are not particularly successful foster parents.
In the rescue business, we are what’s known as “foster fails”. We already had six such “failures” in our menagerie. Maybe it was five back then, I don’t know for sure. Once failure becomes habitual, you stop keeping track. But we felt that we had reached our capacity. Having six cats seemed like all we could manage both financially and in terms of time/ care commitments.
Without question, the Ripster had issues.
She needed her own dedicated room, because of her incontinence, but also because she was terrified of other cats. We suspect it was another cat that had attacked her. There are always costs to consider when fostering. But there is also this: The love. The Ripinator’s room now stays mostly open when we’re home, and she has brazenly claimed our bed as her domain. There is enough conflict to keep her frequently hiding. As I said, there is something hiding under the bed. It’s her. Ripley. Ripalicious The Ripster. The Ripator. The Ripinator. The Ripatollah of Rock and Rollah. The Ripmeister. The Kraken. The monster lurking under the bed, just waiting to release the savagery of her love upon me. And now, here I am, a total mess. A complete and utter failure. When I’m away, I can’t wait to get home. I laugh, perhaps as indication of my submission to the slavery of her love, when her claws dig into my skin when she climbs on my chest. I breathe a bit easier when she pushes the phone out of hands, demanding affection. I tune in to her purr, the music that helps me fall asleep. And she too falls asleep, her face beside mine, her body rising and falling with the rhythm of my breath.
Yes, there are costs. But love wins out every time.
I’m including a few pictures, not of Ripley, but of our two current fosters. We’ve had them for a week now, and they go back to their real foster parents, who are on vacation, on Monday. Monday. Gonna be a hard day.