Lucy Jensen
Lucy Jensen

As I may have mentioned before, social media is really good for animal stuff — not so great with some of the other. Just over a year ago, I see a posting that has been shared and shared. This family is in the Bay area and leaving to South America for a year. They have two cats that they are trying to find a safe haven for until they get back home. They asked friends and relatives — that was a no. They looked at boarding kennels. Wow. They even looked into what it would take to have the cats go with them on their travels. Not an easy task.

So, they were looking for help from the animal peeps community, which is rather large, and a royally sharing bunch. My heart was touched that a family would love their pets so much that they would seek to find a foster home for a whole year — that is quite an ask. I contacted Kevin and told him we would take them in if none of their people could. He seemed surprised and then confirmed that none of his people were willing to take them. I couldn’t help but feel a bit snarly that no one close to them would take in their beloved pets, but that’s people for you.

Kevin, his wife and two boys arrived with Shadow and Soleil and their possessions. We signed a contract and he agreed to furnish food and supplies for the year. How hard could it be? Soleil spent most of the first week under the bed, quietly getting used to her surroundings. Shadow immediately jumped up onto the counter and began creating havoc. “Ah, newsflash!” I thought to just myself. I’m seeing a little bit why no one wanted to take in this naughty cat for a whole year; but I was fairly used to counter jumpers in my time as a cat lady and shoved him off. Eventually he would tire of it.

We had family over and pizza for dinner. Shadow went flying through the air and extricated an entire piece of pizza out of my daughter-in-law’s hands and proceeded to run off with it. I had never seen the like! From then on, regardless of how much cat food was available for him to eat, that naughty black cat would pounce on any human food in his viewshed and swiftly demolish. Husband’s morning bagel and cream cheese — easy-peasy. Some one trying to foolishly have a peaceful lunch up at the bar … gone!

I got Kevin’s permission to take him into the vet. Something must be seriously wrong with him if he’s always so starving hungry! Several tests later and, no, nothing seriously wrong. They dewormed him, gave him some probiotics. Same behavior. He was just a very, very naughty cat.

Birds would scream and dive at him when he went outside (there was absolutely no way I could tolerate having him indoors all the time like his sister!). He’d ignore them and promptly devour one of their crew in a New York second, enjoying his feast on the lawn right by their nest. Such boldness! “I like him!” My friend observed when she was staying with us. “He’s a survivor!”

Oh yes, that he is. A pain in the tush survivor. “You wouldn’t like him that much if he was staying with you for a year.” I respond, not kidding at all. Open a door and he’s through the middle of your legs and flying up to a table or countertop where there might be food lurking. Then you can’t catch him because he’s as swift as a black tornado. “Ooooooh!” I would get so exasperated trying to keep him out of the house when he wanted in. Somehow, he knew when our mealtimes were and that was the funnest part of his day.

He also trained the non-cat loving dogs to respect him, or his claws would come out and he would mercilessly slash them around the muzzle. He could be seen waiting around the corner for an innocent and unsuspecting canine to pass by and be under attack from the feline militia in the household. They won’t miss him either.

So, Shadow and Soleil will be leaving us and returning to the arms of their devoted family at the end of the month. I imagine that Soleil will be right back under a bed for a while, civilized creature that she is. And the black monster will be headed for any dinner plate or surface where he reckons he can steal whatever he wants like the Artful Dodger. “I’m going to miss Grey Cat,” said husband a little mournfully. Well, it’s a package deal and a contract and the pair of them need to return home, I say. Just as well there is a feral cat that is swiftly becoming non-feral at my office, and he looks like a beautiful lynx. He might well be a sweet bed companion for husband once Soleil goes home.

Will I foster for a whole year, will I ever foster some one’s critters when I know that everyone else has turned them down? That’s a very good question. I think the long-term foster thing is way too hard and taking in cats for a year is borderline insane. But we did it, we kept them alive for a year-plus and their family has pledged to come and rescue them back from us.

I will never forget my year with Shadow, the black devil — and I say that completely without affection — nor his antics that reminded me how little cats care about your feelings or, apparently delusional, entitlements. They have no manners and no conscience. As for the birds in my neighborhood, I’m sure they will all be cawing with joy when the car finally drives off with their nemesis nicely tucked away in his pink crate making his strange hawk noise and sniffing in the air for any snacks that might be hiding in the car, so he can break out of his locked box and get them.

I will not forget Shadow, but I won’t miss him either. It will be nice to have pizza with the family without wondering where he’s lurking and waiting to attack. What a year it has been!

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Soledad columnist Lucy Jensen may be reached at [email protected].


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