“I began fostering with the NYCACC in the beginning of 2014. It was my junior year in college, and I felt simultaneously compelled to begin volunteering again and severe separation anxiety from having a pet. It was a fairly quick progression into fostering kittens for me. I started fostering 1-2 kittens every few months, and quickly escalated to 2-3 on rotation — as soon as one set would leave, I’d ask to foster another.
Fast-forward two years and about 30 kittens later, I found myself living with my boyfriend in our first apartment. It took a little persuading to get him fully onboard with my obsession. Almost a year into our lease, I accepted a request to foster two “singletons,” (the name they used for any young kittens that were without a litter). One, Reed, was an adorable little fluffball only about 5 weeks old. The other, Alipha, was a bit older, at maybe 9 weeks, and reportedly needed a little more socialization to get over her shyness. I looked at Alipha as my personal challenge, because I took pride in taking foster kittens in and sending them back to the shelter as extremely people-friendly and of healthy weight.
In the first couple weeks of our time with Reed and Alipha, we saw little improvement in Alipha’s temperament (this would become a trend in our time with her). Reed, however, was just as bubbly and inquisitive as could be. I also began to notice that he really enjoyed being in my presence. If I was cooking or doing the dishes in the kitchen, I would find him directly next to me sprawled out and leisurely flipping his tail around. When I’d use the bathroom, he’d mosey on in and plop himself right on the floor in front of me — waiting patiently. There was something special about our connection that stood out from all of my past fosters. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it was there.
I eventually found myself giving the shelter excuses as to why it was too soon to send them back to the shelter to be taken to adoption events. “I don’t think Alipha has had enough time to fully get past her shyness,” I’d tell the foster coordinators. Meanwhile, Alipha turned out to be a cat that would not soon grow out of her habits. But I simply couldn’t part with Reed — who we had begun calling Mushu. I don’t remember the exact moment it was decided, but I woke up one day knowing I wasn’t sending Mushu to any adoption events.
It was July 31, 2016 when the adoption was finalized. Mushu is still the greatest companion and friend I have ever known. As I type this, he’s sleeping on his little scratch pad directly in front of me, because even though he’s not the biggest cuddler he always wants to be within eyesight. He’s extremely verbal and even talks back when you ask him questions! He’s water-obsessed and will sit perched on the kitchen sink waiting for water to come out of the faucet. He welcomes people at the door, and has such a distinct personality that friends have often said he’s “not like other cats” they’ve met. He’s unbelievably inquisitive, and doesn’t shy away from getting in your face for a sniff. Though it’s been only a year with Mushu, it feels like I’ve known him a lifetime.”
Chelsea Trout is a New Yorker born and raised, and has been living in Brooklyn for the last four years. She founded a women’s discussion group called Nasty Women’s Retreat that motivates and inspires her endlessly.