Almost everyone who has met our cats ask us where we got them. They’re friendly to absolutely everyone, affectionate, head-butty and you can pick them up any which way you want. I’m always pleased to tell them that they’re rescues.
And then they ask what their names are and I cringe a little and tell them that the cats are called Minion and Grumpy. I usually have to quickly add that I’m not a bad pet owner, just bad with names.
I’m not one of those people who can say I’ve always loved animals. Growing up, my pets were kept outdoors and I tended to stay indoors, so I never really understood why people talked to their pets either.
Then one day, about five years ago, my mother went to buy groceries and came home with a one-eyed, flea and worm infested little grey bundle of fluff that just about fit in her palm. My sister and I fell in love with the kitten as soon as we set eyes on her. We weren’t particularly good with names so we called her Moo Moo, short for meow meow. Mum didn’t quite dare tell my dad that she had picked up a stray kitten from outside the supermarket so she blamed my younger sister instead. Tania just took it – she was too excited about having a pet. We were under strict orders to ‘get rid of it’ once she was big enough. We waited for the day my dad would make us give her away, but Moo Moo never left.
I headed back to Melbourne for uni, but the house was just too quiet. I wanted a kitten of my own, but with me going home twice a year and for up to three months – it just wouldn’t be fair to put a cat in boarding for that long.
That’s when I discovered fostering. Did you know that you could look after kittens for short periods of time? That combined with the fact that kittens pretty much come toilet-trained – I couldn’t sign up quickly enough.
My first foster was called Hope – she was beautiful yet when the time came to give her up, I was not as upset as I thought I would be. More fosters came and went -Ghostie, Spotto, Enzo, Bella. I loved them all, and it was sad to see them go but they went on to new lives with loving families.
And then the next litter came. To be completely honest, Nick may have been out to drinks with the boys, and Tania and I thought we’d just drive up to a shelter to help out. The phone call (I should point out the kittens were already in our car and were driving back at that point) went something like this.
“Hey darlin’ I got some kittens to foster. Ok? Ok, thanks bye.”
We came back with six kittens to foster. They were the smallest I had ever seen and dirty, scruffy looking things to boot. But, nothing a bath wouldn’t fix.
We named the prettiest two Maya and Inez and waited for other good names to follow. No such luck. Remember how I said we weren’t good with names? The fluffy one picked up the name Fatso, the one with giant whiskers became Confucius (even though she was a girl), the talky one we called Grumpy and Nick declared the brown one that followed him around to be his Minion.
When it came time to give them back, the shelter was under investigation by the council and I was told that if I handed them over they were as good as dead. I was secretly happy (not about the dead part) because I had bottle fed Grumpy, the runt of the litter, and was not looking forward to giving her up. And Fatso was turning out to be the most gorgeous kitten I had ever seen with a coat like a Persian and the markings of a Bengal. I’d just have to find homes for them myself. Couldn’t be that hard – they were the cutest kittens I’d ever seen.
I have a sneaky suspicion that you know how this ends. Surely I could just keep one, right? The first potential adopter came and quite liked Minion. Nick promptly declared that he didn’t like her, “because”. Because what? “Cos he’s my Minion.” Right, that’s two cats we were keeping then. But what about Fatso, only the most gorgeous, easygoing kitten I had ever met? Surely if were on an adopting spree, one more would be ok – right? Fortunately, a good friend and cat person stepped in to adopt Fatso. I might have told him that his name was Leo so that he didn’t think I was a bad carer. I knew he was the right owner for Leo when he told me the story of when his friend met his cat, Token. His friend went to pick up Token to say hi, Token decided she was not having any of it and gave the friend a friendly swipe on the face. Instead of checking on the friend, he asked “What did you do to my cat?” Yup, he was good enough to adopt Leo.
The other cats all went on to great homes – Confucius (now Ziggy) to a vet nurse’s sister, Inez to a lovely couple who thought she was so kick-ass awesome that they name her Trinity after the Matrix character. And Maya – well Maya was the cleverest of them all so she hid when adopters came over and when time came for her to be adopted, Tania couldn’t give her up.
So there we were, three of us in the one house – all foster failures at once. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. We fully intended to change their names, but Minion remained Minion and Grumpy is still called Grumpy. Though now when I take them to the vet, I tell them their names are Min Yen and Tess – just so they don’t think I’m a bad owner.
Update: my gorgeous girl and love of my life, Grumpy died in January 2013.
Here’s all our gorgeous foster kittens, including two mumma cats, up til now. I can honestly say it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.
For more information on foster caring, visit
To adopt a rescue pet, visit