cats, Uncategorized

Another Good Cat (or Three)?

“Sure, and when we find a good one, we’ll keep it.”

This was Nick’s response to my question, “How about if we foster a cat?”

I didn’t point out to Nick that his response was the very same one he’d had about the possibility of fostering dogs seven years ago, and then we subsequently fostered almost 200.

We have been cat-less since we lost our last house cat, Hermione two years ago. Why is my cat-allergic husband suddenly so keen to get a cat? It all started with a rat….

We had a few foster cats and a steady stream of foster dogs roaming our kitchen, so even without a housecat, we hadn’t had a rodent problem despite living on a small farm.

Following the adoption of our last foster dog Mia who had lived in our kitchen for over a year waiting for her forever family to find her (and, we discovered, fending off a rodent invasion), our rat oddyssey began.

And, yes, it was a rat.

I saw it. (twice)

He was easily the size of a kitten, maybe a small cat. He left droppings on the floor and in the dog’s bowl, but he did not breach the cabinets. I’m an animal lover and my son’s roommate at the time had five pet rats who were near and dear to his heart, so we decided to trap the rat.

We set up a have-a-heart trap baited with suet (and at least five other subsequent suggested baits), but he evaded all our efforts (and kept coming back for the fine dining offerings we set out each time).

It was a somewhat friendly battle as the rat seemed to be camped out in our crawlspace and only made occasional appearances upstairs. But those humane tactics changed after the rat killed our dishwasher on the day before our home inspection (we were in the throes of selling our house in PA). He’d eaten through all the wires going to the computer system inside the dishwasher. Nick looked at the maze of tangled, chewed up orange wires and said there was nothing he could do. Somehow the home inspector didn’t cite the malfunctioning dishwasher (but did find all sorts of nonexistent problems).

No matter, we plunked down over $800 to replace the dishwasher with a similar model since the home sale was imminent.

After the destruction of the dishwasher, we decided we had played nice long enough, so we set out rat snap traps (which are giant mouse traps). I didn’t want to poison him or get him stuck (who uses those kinds of traps? And how do you deal with a live but stuck rat?). Quickly snapping his neck seemed like the most humane way to deal with him.

Still, the rat evaded us.

After a while, though, we saw fewer signs of him. Other than the disappearance of one whole bag of doggie dental treats, there were very few signs that he was still around. Nick had plugged the hole in the wall behind the dishwasher and the one beneath the stove going to the crawlspace, eliminating his access so we figured we’d gotten rid of him.

We were relieved, but agreed that we needed to get another cat as soon as we got settled in Woodstock.

The day before the walk-through and two days before closing, we discovered the refrigerator was not working. When we pulled it out, we found the rat’s new home. There was a freshly eaten hole in the wall and it was clear the rat had been living inside the back of the fridge. It was a perfect rat-hideout what with the drip pan of water and a stockpile of doggie dental treats. In his effort to get comfortable, he’d pushed the electrical cord against a heating element and it had melted.

Time was now of the essence, so Nick ran to the Home Depot to buy a new cord to install and I went to Tractor Supply and bought rat poison. No more Mr./Mrs. Niceguy. We dumped three loads of poison down the hole in the wall behind the fridge, and then Nick patched up the hole and replaced the cord (and fixed the fridge – my hero!).

And then we moved. I’m going to assume that our rat ate some of that plethora of poison and crawled out somewhere to find water and die (that’s what the packages said would happen).

Anyway, long story not short, we are settled in Woodstock now, so I brought up the idea of getting a foster cat.

Bonnie, Clyde, and Cleo are now installed inside my office in a double-wide dog crate. We are fostering them for Furry Friends Rescue in Woodstock. They were originally found dumped at the I-81 park n ride near Strasburg.

Bonnie and Clyde are 9-week-old siblings and Cleo is five months old. They’ve since recovered from serious upper respiratory infections, been vaccinated, dewormed, and Cleo was spayed. Now they just need adopters.

Meanwhile, the dogs are holding vigil outside my office. Ever since Otis barked at Cleo and she made herself as big as a five-month-old cat can make herself and hissed, none of the dogs will come back in the office. They sit at the door and whine.

It’s only day two. We’ll see how this goes.

Until Each One Has a Home,


For information on me, my writing, and books, visit

If you’d like regular updates of all our foster dogs past and present, plus occasional dog care/training tips, and now foster cat updates (!) be sure to join the Facebook group, Another Good Dog.

And if you’d like to know where all these dogs come from and how you can help solve the crisis of too many unwanted dogs in our shelters, visit and subscribe to our blog where we share stories of our travels to shelters, rescues, and dog pounds. You can also keep up with all that is happening with Amber’s Halfway Home, our short documentary film about rescue in the dog pounds of Tennessee.

If you can’t get enough foster dog stories, check out my book: Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs. It’s available anywhere books are sold.

I love to hear from readers and dog-hearted people! Email me at

8 thoughts on “Another Good Cat (or Three)?”

  1. My house in the mountains of CA was infested with field mice and wood rats. I used glue traps and Siberian huskies and gopher snakes (voluntary subcontractors). They attracted cats but cats and Siberian huskies can’t live together (usually) as one is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and the other is food. Cats are the BEST solution to vermin unless you have a Siberian husky. 🙂


    1. I’m sure Ian (and Nick) would prefer we got a Siberian husky to a deluge of cats, but while I loved the one we fostered, I can’t deal with that much hair! When we had Siobhan (our husky foster), between her and our Gracie I thought we could bail the dog hair layering our floors.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We went from fostering dogs to fostering cats as of last summer. Very different creatures. I still feel like a rookie, yet enjoy the love and gratitude immensely! Hang in there. Looks like you’ve got good systems in motion!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If your dogs don’t have a high prey drive, they are probably fine around cats. Most dogs will chase a cat if it runs, but if it stands its ground, they generally respect that (Mr. B enthusiastically chases, but if a cat stands its ground he gets confused, and if it approaches, he hides behind me). I think dogs also learn to differentiate between home cats and away cats. I was more of a cat person growing up, now am more a dog person, but both species are wonderful. Jackson Galaxy has great advice about cat behavior, and reading cat language. Patricia McConnell also had some good advice about introducing dogs and cats. Most important is that the cat has a safe place to go (probably somewhere high).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! That does so far seem to be the case – when the cats hiss, they back away. Fanny avoids them altogether, but Otis is intrigued and would definitely chase if given the opportunity. For now, I’m keeping them in the crates unless the dogs are shut out of the room. They’re just babies, so I think the dogs would have an advantage.


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