It’s been a long time since I’ve fallen so hard as I did for the ginger ninjas. Anxious fosters aren’t my happy place at the best of times as I feel guilty for making them feel safe and loved before sending them on their way again.
But I should have known I was in trouble when Dandelion and Ninja turned up with five days worth of anxiety tablets, our first nervous fosters ever to be prescribed calming medication. Luckily I could open the tablets and sprinkle the contents on their food to avoid medicating stress.
I don’t know when they became a pair but eight months old Dandy and four months old Ninja had both been in foster care before. Under normal circumstances they should have been available for adoption but they found the shelter a stressful environment making it difficult to meet potential adopters.
When we got Ninja home he was clearly nervous but he was also curious about us and his new space so I knew it wouldn’t take much to settle him in. But poor Dandy was too terrified to come out of hiding and was obviously going to need some persuading.
So for the first couple of days I let Dandy eat in her hiding place and gradually moved her plate further into the room as she settled in. Like most gingers she’s an affectionate little cat and she would purr loudly whenever I gave her some attention.
It wasn’t long before gentle giant Ninja, the biggest four month old kitten we’ve ever had, became a cuddly cat keen to get involved in any activity going on and any mischief he could find. I’ve never known such an enthusiastic or curious cat.
After watching Ninja settle in Dandy let her ginger nature win out and turned into a lap cat that enjoyed having her belly rubbed. She also enjoyed exploring new spaces, despite her nerves, and both kittens loved spending time outside in the enclosed cat cave.
At first Dandy would hide anytime she heard a noise but she soon got used to the neighbourhood sounds and loved to watch the birds or chase flies. It’s always nice seeing a nervous kitten build enough confidence to ignore extremely loud nearby noises.
A few weeks into their stay with us we took the kittens back to the Animal Welfare League for a vet check. Poor Dandy was scared as soon as there was any hint of a carrier but Ninja took good care of her by lying on top of her to help her feel safe.
The last time the vet saw Dandy he hadn’t been able to examine her the because of how hissy and stressed she was. So he was pleased that even though she wasn’t on any meds Dandy let him check her while Ninja watched on to make sure she was okay.
After their check up we were sent away for another couple of weeks of fostering. The vet also gave us some more anxiety medication which I gave to the kittens the night and hour before we returned them to the shelter.
Saying goodbye was never going to be easy, anxious cats are my foster fail weakness and these two are truly the perfect little odd couple. But I knew that the shelter had a private quiet space set up for them and they’d be well looked after.
It’s a shame so many people overlook shy and anxious animals in rehoming centres as it only took Dandy and Ninja a couple of weeks to turn into loving and affectionate kittens confident in their new space.
Slán abhaile little ones, you stole my heart. I’m so glad you’ve found your families and I hope you have the long and loving lives you deserve.