In a contest of dogs and cats, I have always picked dogs. I think it is because I grew up with miniature schnauzers, and my mom, who lives nearby, still has two of these little gray canines. Leo and Benny have quirks—one incessantly barks at all people, even family members, who enter the house, and the other is obsessed with the roving pool cleaner and any squirrel he spots running outdoors; he also runs away from the leash when it is time for a walk, a little game he plays that drives my mom nutty. Despite their drawbacks, pups are all I have known; therefore, I have always voted for them. Never cats.
Until 12 days ago.
I do not know exactly how it happened, how I agreed to taking home from the Alachua County Humane Society three foster kittens—Owen (OMG, he is so small and cuddly and orange); Olive (she is the spunky, spirited one marked with black and white); and Ofelia (she is the shy, reserved one with a black and brown coat and beige paws). I had no idea how to care for kittens, but my boys, who have long begged for a pet, were so happy that I agreed to foster three sweet babies after learning about fostering opportunities at our Humane Society orientation that it seemed OK that I was clueless. The day after orientation, we headed home with three furry 6-week-old bundles in a travel crate with a litter box, litter, and dry and wet food.
And now, I know how to care for kittens. I also now how to love kittens. When my boys ask me, “Do you like puppies or kittens better?” I do not have an easy answer. The vote is close.
Because one of us has allergies to adult cats (not to kittens, just cats), we say that we will become a foster family; we will continue taking in kittens who need a place to stay and love in their hearts, and we will return them when they are ready for a forever home.
Today, I returned Owen, Olive, and Ofelia to the Humane Society. Twelve days, they lived with us. We fed them, hugged them, played with them, comforted them, introduced them to our friends, and now, we love them. We think they love us, too.
I am heartbroken. I am sad that our houseguests will live in a cage until they are adopted. I am crushed that they will likely be adopted one by one until only one of them remains. I fear that they will miss us like we will miss them. I worry that I will not be able to foster again and again, as planned, because it is too emotionally hard.
In a contest of dogs and cats, I am torn.
Because itty-bitty kittens have touched my heart.