- Jul 3, 2018
- Reaction score
My wife and I agreed to foster Ziggy, a medium-haired gray and white male cat about nine-years-old, through the Ferndale Cat Shelter in Ferndale, Michigan, back in January. We have three cats of our own but we don't have any children and we're pushing forty so I wanted to do whatever I could to help other cats in need. The Ferndale Cat Shelter does amazing work locally so I reached out to them to foster. They run a Catfé where you can come visit and hang out with the cats up for adoption.
Two previous foster opportunities had fallen through when I was asked if we could take in Ziggy. He had been adopted a year prior but his adopters were returning him because of litter box issues. I couldn't say no because I was worried Ziggy wouldn't have many other options. We were, at least, his third home, meaning he had been given up on more than once. That broke my heart.
Ziggy has changed my life because he made me realize that a large percentage of our society views pets, especially cats, as disposable if they don't live up to their human's standards, despite every single one of us being flawed in our own ways. Sure, Ziggy has his flaws. But so do I. And, unlike me, Ziggy can't hide his flaws. And that's why I can relate to him and will never let him down like he has been in the past.
I wrote this piece through Ziggy's point-of-view starting at when he was dropped off at our house by his previous adopters on a cold and rainy Michigan winter night. His previous adopters brought him in and immediately took him upstairs into one of our spare bedrooms. They stayed in the room with me and Ziggy for about an hour before saying their final goodbyes to him. I left Ziggy alone for about a half hour so he could get used to his new home.
Where am I? Where did my Mom and Dad go? Why was Mom crying when she walked out of this strange room and closed the door? I thought we were just going for a car ride but they brought all my stuff and left it in here in this room I've never been in before. I'm scared. I don't like it here. I can smell other cats that I've never met before. I don't know if I even want to be friends with them. I just want my Mom and Dad to come back and we can go on another car ride and go home. I felt safe there. I got to sleep on the big, comfy bed with Mom and Dad. Mom smelled nice and would cuddle with me and Dad would make me forts out of quilts where I could hide when I was afraid.
"Hi, Ziggy! Are you doing OK in here, little buddy?"
Why is this strange, bearded man trying to pet me? How does he know my name? I'm not your little buddy and I don't like it here! What did you do with my Mom and Dad? Do not try to pet me!
"HISSSSSSSSS!" *swipe* *swipe* *swipe*
"Ouch, Ziggy! You slashed me up pretty good! I'm bleeding!"
You deserved it! I don't know you! Where are my Mom and Dad? I don't want to be here in this strange room! When are my Mom and Dad coming back?
Are they EVER coming back for me?
Why does this always happen to me? What did I do to deserve this again? Mom and Dad told me they loved me. They told me I was their handsome boy. Did they leave me here because I talked too much? Did they leave me here because I ate too much and weigh more than other cats? Did they leave me here because I get scared of loud noises and run and hide? Did they leave me here because I poop on the floor instead of in my litter box? It's not my fault! I don't do it on purpose! I don't know why I'm different than other cats! I can't help it, I swear! That's what it is, isn't it? If Mom and Dad would just come back and take me home, I promise I'll try my hardest to not poop on the floor anymore! I won't talk as much either! Or eat too much or run and hide when I get scared! I just want to go home where I feel safe and loved!
Winter turns into spring and the weathers starts to break a bit.
I've been in this strange place for several weeks now. I still think of Mom and Dad often but I don't think they are coming back for me, just like my previous family, who left me at that weird place with all the other cats and different people who come and go all the time. I don't know what I did wrong that time but the other cat that lives in the same house as me who I wanted to be friends with would pick on me all the time. I didn't like that very much and it made me sad and afraid all the time.
There is a lady with curly hair that lives here with man with the beard. They bring me food and water and treats every day. They even bought me my own personal water fountain that I love! The lady with curly hair is my favorite. She smells nice like my Mom. They both sit with me and try to play with me. I'm a little older than some cats so I don't like to play that much but I do like it when they make that red dot appear on the carpet and I can chase it.
The man with the beard comes in my room every day to clean my poop up. He doesn't get mad at me for not pooping in the litter box. Occasionally, he has to bring a special spray bottle with him and scrub it really hard so it goes away. I can sometimes poop in the litter box but most days it's on the carpet. I can't help it! He tells me every day that he doesn't mind cleaning it up and everything is OK now. He says he doesn't care if I do this for the rest of my life and that he understands. Then he gives me scratches on my forehead. I don't know if I believe him though because I've heard those words before. I'm not sure if I trust these two new humans just yet but I'm thinking of Mom and Dad less and less and have accepted that they aren't coming back for me.
A short spring turns into a scorching hot summer and the days gets longer.
It's finally summer and I've been here for almost half a year now. I'm starting to warm up to the man with the beard and the lady with curly hair. They are so nice to me! They have given me a bunch of nicknames like the other cats that live here, and call me Ziggy Man, Ziggy Stardust, Ziggy Ziggy, Zig and Little Buddy. They give me pets a lot and let me sit on their laps and watch TV with them. The lady with curly hair talks softly to me and does little dances for me that I think are funny. I like when she rubs my belly. She tells me her favorite musician is David Bowie so this must have been destiny but I don't understand what she is talking about. The man with the beard watches a lot of concerts on TV and I've learned about all kinds of rock 'n roll music from The Rolling Stones to Iggy Pop to Aerosmith to Tom Petty to Jack White. I think I like it! He loves watching sports too and keeps telling me I will be his football buddy in the fall. I'm excited to watch games with him and I hope his favorite team, the Detroit Lions, have a good season because I don't like it when he gets upset and yells at the TV! Why doesn't he understand that him yelling at the TV isn't going to change anything and causes me to just run away and hide? Humans seem to have problems just like cats do.
Summer is starting to wind down and the man with the beard and the lady with curly hair have been missing for about a week now! I don't know where they went! I've had two other nice ladies looking after me but I miss the man with the beard and the lady with curly hair. They were saying things similar to what my previous humans said but it felt different this time. I really hope my heart doesn't get broken again! I don't think they'd do that to me but I've been wrong before!
A few days later...
They've come back for me! They smell a bit different and look a little worse for wear but it's the same man with the beard and lady with curly hair from before! I'm so happy! They tell me that they really missed me! No one has ever told me that before! They keep talking about this place I've never heard of before called New Orleans that they have traveled to a bunch of times. They tell me that they think they'd like to move there someday and that I can come with them even though it's a long car ride! I'm scared of being in the car and new things but I'm starting to trust these two humans and think things will be OK as long as I'm with them. They keep telling me how much they love me and that they can't imagine life without me. I've heard these things before but I starting to believe them. The man with the beard and the lady with curly hair don't seem like they'd lie to me after all we've been through.
I made a pretty big mess in the guest bedroom a few days after the two humans came back from New Orleans. I had diarrhea and it was very difficult to clean up. I thought they were going to be very upset with me but, like I said before, I can't help it! The man with the beard came in and told me, "Ziggy, I don't know why you continue to have accidents outside the litter box but I'm not mad at you for it. In fact, I'm thankful and grateful to have you in my life. You are special. Mom and I will always love you unconditionally. We all have issues, little buddy. Everything is OK now."
Thank you, Dad. Finally, I'm home.