Start of a new month

Tomorrow is March 1st.

I am glad that the harshest months of winter – January and February – are behind us. Yet, I feel like time flies and I have some sort of grief coming with this.

Nevertheless, I think we must celebrate reaching to the middle of winter. Spring is always joyful, and makes us feel much better. Nature awakens; yards, tress, and birds become alive and joyful. Having a window open and getting fresh air in are certainly priceless and delightful.

This weekend was fine. I worked in the morning and am ready for the week. I must say the weekdays continue to stress me and weekends continue to relax me. They say so much about the life-work balance. I wonder if this balance is ever achievable?

What is that balance, anyhow?

I was reading an essay about it the other day, and the author claims that there is no such thing as a balance, as there is no true border between work and life. Also, the term itself implies that either our work or life – or both – are miserable and unbearable.

Truth.

Cat Balance GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

In my profession, having this balance is almost impossible. We work anytime and any day, as we always chase for new things and have serious obligations. The expectations increase day by day, especially happened during the COVID-19 pandemic for some unsensible reasons – as we have a highly competitive job. So either we will perform normally and risk being called and feeling unsuccessful and a failure (duh! even with a little bit of or work, we do amazing and incredible things), or hurt ourselves with countless of hours of work, stress, thinking, writing, reading, discussing, training, and presenting. All to feel competent and successful. Whoever has implemented this self-inflicted, unhealthy, and counter-intuitive system must be very proud of themselves. There seems to be no way out of it, unless the vast majority think the same way and stop slowing.

Slowing down is a term I have been associating with the pandemic. I heard it from many of my friends and colleagues, and it kind of makes sense. I believe that I could be not only healthier, but also more creative if we could slow down a little bit.

On the positive side, I feel like I have slowed down somehow and tipped to scale towards the life part of the work-life balance, especially now that I have a lovely foster cat with me. Spending time with Mona, even feeding her or cleaning her litter box are giving me much needed mental brake. I am determined to continue with fostering even when she is adopted. My beautiful girl. May she always have the best, kindest, and most compassionate people around her, the best meals and cleanest litter box, and the best vets.

Cats GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Sunday morning musings

Happy Sunday everyone – wherever you are, I hope you all are safe, healthy, and comfortable.

I really appreciate today. Yesterday had elements of work (two remote meetings), one in the morning and one in the afternoon, which made me feel like unready to relax… So today is my good day to relax, do whatever I want, and get ready for yet another productive and intense work week tomorrow. I also made a mental note to not schedule work meetings at a weekend day anymore – except that I must go through a couple of them till April. Since it will end at a near future, I feel okay with this. But, not after that.

It is a bright day. While we have lots of snow banks on the side of the roads, at least we are still mobile and able to walk on the road. Our city needs to do better and clean the sidewalks. This has been an ongoing issue, mostly prevented by budget issues, but pedestrian as well as riders safety is at high stakes when we keep walking on the road, rather than on the side walk. I am sure we are not the only one who is experiencing this. Please watch yourself and the traffic.

Cat Snow GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Mona, my foster cat, is good, but she is having some sort of health issues. She will be visiting a vet hopefully this week. A new vet. The rescue organization thought that getting a second opinion will be beneficial. I really loved this attitude. She has been given medications, possible diagnoses, and went through a couple of vet visits, but her main problem remains unsolved. I feel for this magical creature. Is she in pain? Is she comfortable? What does she need? How can I make her feel better and more comfortable? She means a lot to me.

Cats Hugging GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I recognize that each vet visit costs a lot of money to the rescue organization. I have been thinking about increasing my contributions and support to this organization, but I am not sure whether I should do it right now, or later. One thing I am scared of is that then each time there is a need for help, I may find myself, consciously, forcing myself to make a donation. I do not like the feeling of being forced, even by myself, so this is my dilemma right now. Wait, or do it now?

Perhaps I should do it now to help make sure that Mona will get adequate and complete care right now. I can handle my consciousness later. It would be great if I could create some sort of budget to help support this organization. Perhaps and annual cash donation amount. I can cut out some of my unnecessary expenses. Believe me, I can find expenses to cut. So what should it be?

Right after writing the paragraph above, I made a donation to the rescue organization. I know it will help and I know I could make this donation, It felt right. The great thing is that until I wrote my words and thoughts in this blog, I was not sure at all…

Thank you for listening.

Playing Work From Home GIF by Carolynn - Find & Share on GIPHY

having a foster cat – VI

Cats certainly train you.

Scratching the head: They signal when they want a head scratch. They certainly make it clear when it is too much or not done appropriately 🙂

Cat Kitty GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Attention: They let you know when they want attention. They just sit there with their paws next to each other and look at your eyes. Or, they will walk around your legs, touch your hands, or head-butt. You cannot miss these signs.

Attention Pulls GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Food: They will let you know which food they like and which they do not. There is nothing to miss here. Mona just sniffs once and decides whether it is good for her royal stomach. The way that they turn their head and start walking the other way makes me feel like a failure, but that is okay 🙂 Sometimes, she is simply not hungry, although she likes her food. I believe these are the times she does that covering act with her paws. I know that she will come back and enjoy her food later. No need to dump the food yet 🙂

Mona is on wet food. I found that there is no one type of food she likes or dislikes for ever. Sometimes she likes shred meal, but mostly patee is her favorite. If your cats does not like a type of food, do not give away the food. I did that at the beginning, now I learnt after a while that she is ready to eat again most food she once rejected.

Bored Cat GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Litter and litter box: I have had no litter problem with Mona, so I cannot comment on what they like or not, or why litter box problems occur. I clean the litter 3-4 times a day and dump the entire litter every 2 weeks. I take that she is happy with our litter situation. Whether you would use a closed or open litter box is mostly dependent on you. At first I considered it to contain the smell, but then ruled it out. I prefer to replace the litter box and closed boxes are quite pricey. And there is no way that I am washing those litter boxes.

These being said, I found that the level of litter is somehow important. Initially, I think the litter was shallow. Mona, although she intended to, could not cover her excretions. Sight of a pooh is not pleasant, but after a while I get used to it. Just recently I started to fill the box a little bit higher. This cause litter scattered around the box, but at least Mona seems happier as now she can cover her poops. I also noticed that the bottom of the box stays cleaner longer, and so does the scoop. So I after 3 months appear to have improved our litter situation quite a bit.

Does your cat use the litter box when you are around? A couple of times Mona decided to use the litter box while I was washing my hand in her bathroom. I found it strange – aren’t they supposed to be private animals? Not in our case, it seems.

Cat Box GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Water: Mona is not a fan of water. I think I have seen her drink from the bowl once or twice in the last 3 months. One of my friends suggested adding water to her wet food, which has been working out well, She does not like it if it turns into a soup, but you can try if your cat’s water intake does not seem adequate.

Catnip: We use catnip in toys and sometimes just to let her relax a little bit. Seeing Mona enjoying her time is really fun. Stress gets to the best of them as well, I think every living thing deserves a break.

Cat Time GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Cat grass: Cat grass is something she enjoys as well. Mona is a short hair girl, I regularly groom her, and she never vomited a hairball (I heard that it is not for the faint heart to watch a cat vomit a hairball).. So I try to grow cat grass using kits. She likes eating them. In moderation. I was fascinated to learn that cat grass was not a specific type of plant, but rather the sprouts of oats, barley, wheat, and so on. Easy to sprout and grow at home, especially if using a cat grass kit (all required things come in them, including the soil, seeds, containers, and directions).

Tuxedo Cat Fitness Goals GIF by A Magical Mess - Find & Share on GIPHY

Exercise and play time: Somedays are better for exercise, and some other days are not. I try at least twice to work her body a little bit. Since she is currently over-weight, that seems to be especially important. She likes laser pointer but I need to be careful with it – you may also know that laser if applied directly to eyes can hurt the retina. Please watch it out, for yourself, for your cat, and everyone else around you. I just bought new toys yesterday, so hidden the other toys. I hope that she will get interested in them again once her excitement around the new ones passes.

Cat Kitty GIF by Kraken Images - Find & Share on GIPHY

It may be true that most cats like boxes, except Mona 🙂 But she enjoys her closed bed (a make-shift carrier turned into a private bed) on top of a chair.

Scratch post and cat towers: A scratch post is essential, but Mona rather uses it as something to sleep on. Her favorite is my stairs’ carpet. I heard that this is common for cats. I have no problem. She sheds tinny nail clips 🙂 She also has a cat tower, but Mona has never been a fan of it – interesting fact. Not all cats like the heights, it seems.

Groomer: I accidentally bought a groomer from a dollar store, and she loved it! We use it abundantly, as Mona asks for it by lying in front of me and rolling on the floor. It massages her and collects the shed hair. Win-win 🙂

Conversations: Mona loves it when I speak to her. She listens to me and I feel like the tone and volume of the words attracts her attention. It is a great bonding activity and a lot of fun for me 🙂

Purring: The best way one cat can indicate their pleasure is those magnetic purrs. Mona is a great purrer 🙂

Ecstasy Happy Kitty GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Cat behavior fascinates me!!

Happy fostering 🙂

Foster Adopt GIF by Best Friends Animal Society - Find & Share on GIPHY

having a foster cat – IV

The fact that I started taking antidepressants right around the same time as I started fostering Mona makes me question whether I feel better compared to before because of the medication or Mona?

I have no answer to that…..

I am continuing the medication because I am feeling better and it seems to make me take things lighter and have more time for myself. I can handle emotions easier and get stressed less.

Today I am convinced that she is an enormous support to my emotional health. She has been my support pet for the day and possibly many other days.

I am very grateful for Mona and the shelter organization that allows me to foster her.

May she always be safe, loved, cared for, free of accidents and fear, and have the cleanest litter box and finest meals.

Cat Sniffing GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Mona has minor health issues, like constipation or some other small stuff. We are following vet’s recommendations but time to time she gets it again and it worries me. The fact that I love her so much means that her wellness related matters are painful for me. I am scared that I do not understand if she has a serious issue and cannot take the appropriate steps (like contacting the organization for a vet visit), or they will quit on her.

How painful are these thoughts?

Love is meant to be joyful. But pain is also a part of it. I find serenity in making sure that I follow all recommendations and report all issues, even if they seem small. They are experienced and can decide whether it is a serious issue or not. I also find serenity in praying and asking for protection, support, and love for her and improved understanding for myself to help Mona.

I sometimes feel guilty because I am a hard-working professional and especially during the day I cannot pay the attention Mona deserves or asks for. But evenings are ours and so are the nights. We spent quite some time, play, and interact. I love her when she listens to me and falls into sleep. I love her when she wakes me up in the morning when she gets hungry by walking on my pillow.

Cat Spock GIF by MOODMAN - Find & Share on GIPHY

Just today, I seriously considered adopting her. Emotions are high 🙂 The hard reality is that I am capable of doing this, but I have to choose between her and my family – the only reason that I am fostering is that when I start traveling for extended period of times, I cannot take her with me. What will happen to her? Where will I leave her to? Fostering helps with this.

These being said, sometimes I think that life is too short to think about such things and we really do not know what the future will bring. Just today Canada announced that they plan to quarantine all Canadians returning from out of country. The moment I thought things were getting better (with the vaccines being administered now), now we have more restrictions for travel. I feel strained because I was hoping to visit my family next year. But who knows what will happen then?

Sometimes, there is no perfect solution that we can come up. Sometimes, life turns in unexpected ways. I will leave it to life to decide…

Cats Hugs GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

having a foster cat – III

My sister just joked that “once Mona finds a forever home and leaves you, you may fill your home with new cats, but none will be like her. So be ready“.

International Cat Day Cats GIF by MOODMAN - Find & Share on GIPHY

There is truth to this.

I am emotionally attached to Mona and I believe she and I have a great bond. She trusts me and I trust her in turn. She has never been an issue for me. She did not scare me, bite me, or hiss at me. She did not break anything at home. More importantly, she is not interested in counter tops and stove, so I keep my sanity (stove is the one that I am most scared off. Cannot imagine her or another cat jumping on and hurting their wonderful paws….)

My sleep is much better since she joined my household. I love talking to her at night and being woken up by her in the morning. She is not an early bird, so 7-8 am is our time. I spend around 5-10 minutes petting her and scratching her head, which she loves. Then comes cleaning her water and food bowls, and adding fresh food and water. We have a comfortable routine in the morning that works.

While she asks for attention sometimes during the day, she lets me work. Not even once she interrupted or asked for attention while I was having online meetings. She is not a fan of the computer or the keyboard either. Absolute, golden luck for a busy professional like me.

The love I feel for her is very strong and makes me happy. I always have known that she would leave one day…. But when she leaves, it will hurt. Until then.

It is impossible to have a magical creature like a cat at home and not bonding or being emotionally attached. I am sure I am not the only one who fosters a lovely cat and one day will let her go.

My fear has always been not knowing whether she is sick/uncomfortable or healthy and well. It is hard to know what they feel. What if I miss an otherwise important, silent clue and she gets hurt? Not one thing that I can risk. That is why it is really awesome that the shelter organization is very attentive to my questions and provides me with info and support whenever I need it. Nevertheless, I continue to fear (not in a way that it creates an anxiety., but in away that I keep watching).

Anyways, considering her wonderful character and our bond, my sister indeed made a great point. Since I was so lucky to start fostering by a cat like Mona, do I really think that other foster cats will be as mild, joyful, and non-problematic as Mona?

What about those stories we hear here and there about cats chewing cables; breaking TVs; ruining furniture; being hostile or aggressive; being clingy or too active; and so on?

These are potential experiences as well, with the future cats. Thanks sis, for making me realize things a little bit better.

I also keep in my perspective that it is also possible to foster other cats like Mona in the future, and each cat has many wonderful characteristics that will continue to awe me.

Cats GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

having a foster cat – II

Some of you may not know the difference between adopting and fostering an animal. I did not know the difference for a very long time.

Simply put, fostering is a temporary care of an animal, in this case, until my foster cat Mona finds a home.

Fostering does not have to cost you anything. The organization that rescued Mona is supplying or covering all vet, medication, food, and litter and other expenses. Supplies are delivered to my home – imagine!.. All other things, including the litter box, scoop, and scratch post as well as blankets or a toy were also provided. Since I am free to donate to the cause, I buy litter sometimes and wet food. I buy toys, catnip, and cat grass kits myself. Since it is my decision to replace the litter box and scoop every two weeks, I supply these myself as well. And, believe me, it is just joyful.

So, if you are interested in, think about this cost-free and highly meaningful experience.

As a foster mom (dad, person, and so on), you have moral and legal obligations. For example, I signed an agreement that I cannot arrange for adoption myself – this needs to go through the organization. If there is any emergency or any unusual health situation, I must give a call to the organization immediately, day or night. Morally, I must take good care of the fostered animal and provide a safe space. I should give the organization a couple of days to bring me supplies and so on. Nothing too much or too demanding. Just making sure that the animal will be cared for.

My relationships with the director of the organization/shelter and the volunteers who take her to vet and bring in supplies are very good. I increasingly become grateful and inspired by their volunteer activities and serving for such a great cause. We also made friends – this is an extra bonus 🙂 Whenever I have a question, I contact them. Together we make sure that Mona is well. It is a great team.

For someone who is meticulous, have a high sense of responsibility, and is kind of naive and un-knowledgeable about cats, their care, or health issues, I had to do a lot of google searches (only reliable resources – I have no time for vegan diet for cats who are natural carnivores and need high levels of protein, or herbal treatments for FIP kind of serious diseases). Many of my virtual friends here and in social media are also great help. My family also provided many useful tips. It is doable, friends – do not be afraid to foster and help an animal.

Animal Rescue Cat GIF by Rewire.org - Find & Share on GIPHY

Many people are appreciative of fosters, and shower you with gifts and supplies. Do not be surprised by these lovely gestures. I was surprised myself – it is so good to know that there are many individuals out there who share the same interests with you.

It took me maybe 2 months to establish the most practical and easy approach to litter situation. Eventually, I learnt the difference between a litter mat and a regular mat; importance of having a separate litter garbage box in the room (to temporarily store the poop and pees in poop bags); having yet another garbage can (to dispose unconsumed food and food cans); dumping soiled litter every day to keep the room fresh; importance of small, poop bags that are life-savers; the different types of bowls (porcelain is the best in my opinion); not letting Mona eat a wet food after 3 hours of serving (it is cold here but nevertheless the food not only may get spoiled, but also chemically react); mixing water with wet food to increase liquid intake (Mona is not a fan of water); watching the litter box usage to get a sense of her regular bowel movements (constipation is a real issue and can be quite serious after 24 hours), and so on. Now I feel like we have a good system that works for both of us.

Cat Box GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Giving a medication to a cat is a real art. I learnt that some medication can be crushed and mixed with the wet food, but not all of them. Some medications seem to have a protective coat, which, if disrupted, release the medication too fast. Keep this in your mind. Always consult a vet. Some liquid medication can be mixed with the meal, but in my experience if it smells or tastes differently, cat may not be well receptive. If you can, orally administer the medication using a syringe (which I could not, but you should try). Some pills also need to be orally administered. We had difficulty with one pill. I could not do it myself, so I had to find a way to trick Mona. So you can use pill pockets, or if they do not work, you can hide the pill in something soft that your cat likes. For Mona, that was cheese. Some other cats, it may be something else. Get ready for the experimentation 🙂

Mad Grumpy Cat GIF by MOODMAN - Find & Share on GIPHY

Many house plants and human food are toxic or poisonous for cats. Do your search and comply with the recommendations. Mona ate a plant at home, and got sick. It turns out I mis-labelled the plant even though I had checked its toxicity status. It is good to be on the safe side. Interestingly, Mona is okay with drinking milk and eating yogurt – so I take this as she is not lactose intolerant. Moral of the story – you never know what cats can eat or not, and whey eat, what might be the consequences 🙂

Cat Kitten GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Our shelter/organization does not recommend treats. The way I see there is a lot of information out there for their potential mis-use/over-use, and health effects. Treats, as their name implies, is supposed to be given only every once a while, and they are not necessary. I used it to suppress the smell of a pill. Otherwise we are good with no treat.

The wet food is more expensive than the kibbles (hard or dry food), yet for cats they seem great – their water contents is high and they have generally less carbs than kibbles. Carbs are not so good for cats and can lead to obesity. Too many health problems are associated with obesity/over-weight in cats. Mona has become overweight under my watch, so now she is served less food than before. For her health.

Lil Bub Eating GIF by Omaze - Find & Share on GIPHY

To be continued

having a foster cat – I

You may remember that since late October I am fostering a cat, Mona.

She has been my first foster cat and I could not be happier.

You may ask why I decided to foster.

I wanted to foster for a very long time, especially after I gave back my cat (whom I adopted a few years back and sadly had to return to shelter after 5 days… I know.. I know.. I am heartless. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. But I was not good enough and could not bear the idea of putting him in a kernel while I have extended trips. Luckily in a couple of weeks, he was adopted. Or, so I was told….).

How did I finally start fostering?

Anyways, my next door neighbour is a big fan of pets and adopting animals as much as she can. So, she encouraged me for years… So did my family… Eventually this Fall, right before I asked my doctor to prescribe me an anti-depressant, I took the step and contacted a shelter. They said they had frozen the program and would open again in a week. My neighbour said – do NOT wait. So I contacted another one. Long story short, I was interviewed in a couple of days, signed agreements, and in a week I had Mona transported to my home 🙂

Cat Lady Cats GIF by Jeannie Phan - Find & Share on GIPHY

Then, she arrived.

It was too soon, but in the meantime, luckily I had prepared my home and removed the sticky bands, secured the cables somehow, and prepared a room for the cat. I was planning to keep her in the room a couple of days until she felt secure. But it did not work that way. The vicious cat needed to be let go off the carrier right away, otherwise she would be hurting herself. That was a good thing indeed – she immediately checked the place and found herself a comfy place (the top of the couch). The fact that she did not display any fear or did not hide tells me that she was okay.

She also was friendly with me and did not hiss or otherwise show any aggressive behavior. I showed her her litter box, gave food and water, and let her be.

The fact that I am not interested in showing big attention to anyone helped.

I remember the next night she placed herself on my bed and groomed herself. I remember petting her (I was afraid!!) lightly and learning right away that there was a limit to how many times you can pet a cat 🙂 (answer is that, you gotta stop after 5-6 times and if she wants, she will signal you to do it. Otherwise, be prepared to face an unhappy and determined cat).

How do I take having someone at home and arrange my life around them?

I never felt disgusted or tired of cleaning her litter box, washing her bowls, and giving her food (all wet food) or water. I continue to dump the litter everyday to keep air fresh at home, and dump the entire litter, litter box, and the scoop every two weeks. I vacuum the carpets and floors, especially the litter room, frequently and wipe with wet wipes (sometimes, but not always, with antibacterial wipes. Too much chemicals..). I play with her at least twice a day, generously scratch her head and groom her body. She often sleeps on the foot area of my bed during the nights, and during the day.

The smell of the litter / pooh made me annoyed once or twice, I had to learn to use a small amount of baking soda with litter and better aerate the house.

I was scared to give liquid medication orally by a syringe, which I could never managed to do.

I was scared when Mona got sick and needed to go to the vet.

Other than these, I am simply grateful that she is in my life. She wakes me up in the morning for meal (thank goodness, and let me pet her. I love my mornings now 🙂 I talk to her, always wishing positive things and telling her the difference she has made in my life. She listens.

Happy I Love You GIF by Rebecca Hendin - Find & Share on GIPHY

She has a great community of people caring for her. My friends gave her many gifts and often send their love in messages. My family fell in love with her. She is loved, cared, and admired.

Why fostering gave me a huge satisfaction and has a deep meaning?

I started fostering by the idea of having a cat – I admire them – in my life.

But I had never thought how meaningful and satisfactory is to actually help an animal. Mona was a stray cat and had a rough start in life. She is now in a safe place, loved, fed well, and cared for. Fostering her till she is adopted is most certainly helping another cat to be rescued from the streets, or from abusive owners. To be able to contribute to such a great aim is incredible.

  • To be continued

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