What I learned from fostering a pet

My foster cat and rabbit taught me how to adapt 

Monica fostered a pet from the Kingston Humane Society.
Credit: 
Supplied by Monica Aida Lopez
I’ve always loved animals. They have a sort of comforting innocence and sweetness about them—if you look into their eyes, you know everything will be alright.  So, when I moved to Queen’s from Calgary, the hardest goodbye was to my little rabbit, Marbles. 
 
He was super old, almost ancient, and putting him on an airplane to take with me would’ve been too selfish, no matter how much I loved him. It didn’t matter how many stuffed animals I got; Marbles was pretty hard to replace. 
 
My roommate, another huge animal lover, understood my perspective. So, the idea of fostering an animal was intriguing to us. After talking for a week, we decided to go for it. Over the summer, we applied to foster pets through the Kingston Humane Society. 
 
The process was a lot simpler than we originally thought. We were asked to describe the type of house we lived in and our previous experiences with animals. Lastly, we had to give some character and vet references. 
 
After submitting the application, we waited a couple weeks to see who our new furry friend was going to be. 
 
Our first foster pet was a small white bunny named Binky. He had floppy pink ears and a pink nose, which made him look more like a stuffed rabbit than a real one.Binky was a little bundle of joy. He ran about the house and loved cuddling with any visitors. In the end, however, Binky needed to be spayed and was deaf, so there were some challenges with keeping him. 
 
Although we gave Binky as much attention and care as we could, having a free-range rabbit was more difficult to manage with his disabilities. He could hop very high and wasn’t afraid of loud noises, so we were unable to keep him safe in a small apartment. 
 
After a couple of months, we talked to the Humane Society and they were completely understanding. Foster pets, although lovely, are not always the best fit for your lifestyle. Just like you’re not going to be best friends with everyone, sometimes that pet just isn’t the right match for you. 
 
It was hard to come to terms with once you have that personal connection, but when fostering an animal, it’s important to consider their needs and their happiness. Unfortunately, sometimes another home is the better option.
 
My experience with Binky made me more selfless and compassionate, since it was no longer just about me and my needs. I had an animal who relied on me for their safety, love, and care. 
 
He was also a large lesson in patience and understanding. Understanding Binky’s limitations made me reflect more on other aspects of my life where I could also have the same level of patience. 
 
After Binky, we thought more about what type of petwould be better suited to our living conditions and lifestyle. 
 
Our second pet was Lucy. On Halloween night, we got an email asking if we would like to foster this adorable black cat. I was a little hesitant, since I’ve never had a cat before and wasn’t sure I was a cat person. But Lucy was no stereotypical cat; she was super affectionate right away and loved following everyone around the house. 
 
Just with any pet, there was an adjustment period, but unlike with Binky, we set boundaries and schedules right away with Lucy to not enforce bad habits. 
 
This made it easier for Lucy to understand when we are free to play, where she should not go for her own safety, and the roles of the household.  
 
Although fostering both Binky and Lucy had their challenges, I learned to become adaptable and less rigid due to the personal connection I built with them. For example, I’m not a fan of my furry friends sleeping in the same bed at night—they can be restless sleepers. Instead, I got a chair by my window so Lucy could sleep there and peer out the window safely, so she didn’t feel the need to jump onto the windowsill.
 
Life and schoolwork can become overwhelming, so it’s nice to come home to a friendly face who just wants to play. Pets reduce stress and sometimes when you don’t feel like getting up, you get a built-in alarm clock which meows at you for food at 8 a.m.
 
Overall, fostering is an incredible way to provide care for an animal in need and have a little companion. I’d personally recommend it to any student who has the time and wants a pet but can’t commit to the full adoption process. 
 
The only thing I would warn any student about with fostering is firstly, you may actually adopt the pet since you love it so much, just like my roommate, who officially adopted Lucy and made her a permanent member of our house. 
 
Secondly, you should be able to commit some time and understand that you are responsible for the animal’s needs.
 
Lastly, friends may begin to worry about the number of times your cat is in your Instagram story—you may start to look like a cat lady.
 

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.