In February of 2015, I got a call from the shelter. A cat that had come in the night before had just given birth to five kittens. Would I be willing to foster the whole family? Of course, I said yes. I named one of the girls “Lulu.” Lulu was the first kitten in the litter to learn how to do everything. She also was sweet, affectionate and playful — the whole kitten package. I was very tempted to keep her, but my cat, Liza, who was very generous about sharing her home with adult cats, did not want to have a kitten underfoot. I tried very hard to find someone that I knew to adopt her, so that that person would get a great cat and I would be sure that Lulu had gone to a good home, but, sadly, I was not successful. When she was old enough to be adopted, I returned Lulu to the shelter with her brothers and sisters, and wrote an adoption profile that stressed how friendly she was, and that she should go to a home where someone would spend a lot of time with her. I later heard that she was adopted by someone locally. That was that.
Of the more than thirty cats and kittens that I have fostered through the years, Lulu was the one that I never forgot. I often found myself thinking of her, and hoping that she was having a good life.
Six years later, in September of 2021. I was reading the Pasadena Star News, and came across the “Pets of the Week” feature, where one of the animals listed was a tabby cat named Lulu. I thought that it probably was just a coincidence, because whoever had adopted my Lulu as a kitten most likely had given her a new name, but just to be on the safe side, I checked my records. By comparing their shelter ID numbers, I realized that the cat in the paper was my former foster kitten. I immediately went online to see about adopting her, but it already was too late. She no longer was listed, which meant that she had been adopted. It was a done deal.
I was devastated. I wrote to the foster coordinator, and let her know what had happened. I also asked her to put a note in Lulu’s file, so that if she ever came back to the shelter, they would let me know. I told myself that it wasn’t meant to be.
Two days later I got an email: Lulu had been returned to the shelter. Did I still want her? My immediate reply was, “Absolutely!” I also got some background on her: The person who originally had adopted her had not socialized her. For six years, Lulu had been confined to a single room; it broke my heart After all that time, Lulu had been returned to the shelter because she “wasn’t friendly.” She came back to the shelter in July, and then went into foster care, where she started out very stressed but eventually did quite well.
When Lulu was adopted in September, the new adopters were advised that she would be under a lot of stress coming into a new home, and to let her warm up to them gradually. Instead of doing that, they immediately blocked off any place where she could feel safe and protected in a new environment. The second night that she was there, she went under a bed. Their reaction was to try to pull her out of there. Of course, she scratched and bit them. They returned Lulu to the shelter, calling her a “Tasmanian devil.” Because of the bite, Lulu then had to be quarantined for ten days before I could take her home.
We finally were reunited on October 6, 2021. At first she was very stressed, but I was committed to making the adoption work. I let Lulu do things at her own pace, and she did better than I ever could have imagined. In less than two weeks she went from hiding under the bed, where she growled and pulled her fur out, to sitting in my lap and wanting to be kissed and petted. With a little more time, I got her to go into a carrier. We still have some things to work on. She is afraid of people’s hands, so I have yet to pick her up, but that will come with time. She and my other cat, Dorothy, are working on their relationship and are making progress every day.
I consider this whole series of events to be a miracle. If Lulu’s first owner had given her a new name, I never would have known who she was when I saw her in the paper. If her story had not been in the newspaper, I never would have known that she was available for adoption. And if I had not kept my own records, I never would have known that the cat in the paper was the foster kitten that I never forgot. She truly is my Lulu come home.