Annabelle left last night.
I got home this past Thursday to find a message on my voicemail from the rescue group. "We just got a really good application for Annabelle, they loved her picture and description on the web site, their references all check out, they've passed the adoption counselor's screening, here are their phone numbers, please give them a call."
And so then I had to make my decision. Call these potential adopters up, or call the rescue group back and tell them I'd decided to keep her myself?
It's been six months now since she came to live with me and the boys. She's such a sweetie (of course). I have gotten extremely fond of her (of course). But as well as she gets along with my guys, she's never really bonded with them. She would play with Alfie and especially Clyde, but if either of them tried to groom her, she'd get up and walk away. I never saw her groom them, not even one little lick. She never cuddled or slept with them. If it had looked like she was bonding with them the way they've bonded with each other, of course I would just have adopted her myself. I wouldn't have wanted to split the three of them up.
But she remained very much her own cat, and never really joined their brotherly circle. And while I thought Clyde would probably miss her playful energy, I was pretty sure that Alfie would be very happy to go back to a two-cat household. And Annabelle herself has always very much deferred to my guys - letting them go in front of her at dinnertime, letting Clyde get to the feather toy first, letting Alfie butt his head in when I'm about to pet her. I always thought she'd probably be happier in a two-cat household where she would get more people attention, which she really enjoys.
She has gotten very affectionate with me, though, and I did worry about that. Has she bonded too much with me? Is it going to upset her to leave me and go off with strangers? But she's been a friendly, affectionate cat to all the people she's met, from the minute I pulled her out from underneath that parked car, so I hoped that she would like her new people as much as she's seemed to like everyone else so far - including me.
And then of course there's the never ending need for foster homes, which is how I got into this in the first place. Three cats is my absolute limit. If I adopted Annabelle, I wouldn't be able to foster the next nice cat who comes along in the middle of kitten season when every last shelter, rescue group, and foster home is overfull and bursting at the seams, as they were last June when Annabelle got dumped in that hot parking lot.
I think I thought about all this for just two or three minutes. Well, maybe four. But it surprised me how quickly I knew that letting her go was the right thing to do.
Two nice young ladies came over last night to meet her. I liked them right off the bat, and they adored Annabelle. She showed them most of her pricklier points, and not all of her endearing ones, and they still adored her.
She's not a cuddler. She won't sit in your lap. She'll allow herself to be picked up, but after a minute she squirms to be put down. I warned them that clipping her nails is absolutely a two-person job. She doesn't fight, but she squirms fiercely. (I had M. come over and help me clip her nails Saturday, so she is freshly trimmed for her new home.) If she has something better to do elsewhere, she'll go off and do it, and totally ignore you. "She's her own cat" one of the ladies observed. "I really like that."
But they were struck by her beauty, her fearlessness, her complete lack of shyness, her open and friendly inquisitiveness regarding all things new. I gave them a wand feather toy, and she rolled around on her back and batted at it excitedly. The ladies and I had a lot of questions for each other, and while we sat chatting, Annabelle wandered off and then incited Alfie to a friendly wrestling match. This impressed the ladies very much, as Alfie is twice her size. They have no other cats at home, so Annabelle will be an only cat for now. But there are two of them to shower her with attention, and they do intend to get a second cat after she settles in. Everything seems very good. I told them I'll give them a call in about a week, to see how she's settling in. But I think I won't wait a week. I think I'll call them tonight.
Of course I was sad to say goodbye, terribly sad. And I was worried that she wouldn't understand, that she'd be confused and distressed to leave her home of the last six months.
I tried to explain it to her. I've been trying since Thursday, when I got the call and made my decision. "You'll be going to your forever home, Annabelle", I told her, and tried to picture the idea in my mind so that she could see it. It's hard to picture "forever home" though. How would you do it?
I tried to explain it to my boys as well. "Annabelle will be leaving us, guys. She'll be going to her own home now." But I don't know if any of them understand. I doubt it.
Alfie and Clyde are acting a little freaked out now. It's not like they're going around looking for her, but they've both been really clingy, especially Clyde. I don't know if they miss her, or if they're just confused. My friend D. came over last night after Annabelle and her new people had left, and she kept telling them "Nobody else is going to be leaving now, guys. Nobody is going to be taking anybody else away." And I keep telling them that this is their forever home, that I am their forever person, and that they don't have to worry about things changing. But I don't know if they understand. I doubt it.
The rescue group has three or four other cats, currently being boarded at animal hospitals or in pet stores, who need foster homes right now. But I don't think taking in another foster cat immediately would be fair to Alfie and Clyde. I think they need a little time to adjust.
I think maybe I do, too.