Courtney: Mrs Norris cast a spell on Courtney and Paul Carstens' hearts. At first, she was supposed to be a regular foster cat, but the three quickly established a strong bond.
How long have you been with Mrs Norris?
Courtney: Mrs Norris arrived on February 12, 2021, so it’s been just over two months!
Do you know about her life before she joined you?
Courtney: We know a little bit. She was abandoned by her former family when they moved out of their house. The new tenants noticed a cat that kept trying to get inside the house every time they opened the door. After a little while, they decided to contact animal services, and someone came to rescue her. Originally, her name was “Hope” as she was found on Hope Street.
Once she arrived at animal services, Home at Last Rescue jumped in and offered to foster her.
She was covered in fleas, and had to be shaved on her side and the tip of her tail due to matting of her fur. She also had a skin condition/slight infection due to the matting.
If Mrs Norris is your first cat, what have you learned from the experience?
Courtney: She is the first cat we have owned together as a married couple (although we fostered three cats before receiving Mrs Norris)! I have grown up with pets of all shapes and sizes, including my 8-year-old St Bernard/Labrador who lives with my parents in South Africa (where I am from). Animals can be so rewarding to have in your life. Sometimes I like to think of them as little therapists because I feel like you can tell them anything. Who are they going to tell?
Paul: I also grew up with a myriad of pets, but cats are definitely a favourite of mine. I think it’s easy to fall in love with an animal just by looking at them, but you really have to take into consideration that every animal, just like people, have their own personalities. Not everyone is going to get along all the time, and that’s okay. Just make sure you are bringing a pet into your home for the right reasons, and you are ready for that lifelong commitment. They won’t be around for your whole life, but you are around for theirs and that means something.
What's your role at Home at Last Rescue?
Courtney: We are volunteer foster parents, and we also help collect donations of items.
Did you join Home at Last Rescue because of Mrs Norris?
Courtney: We were already part of Home at Last Rescue before adopting Mrs Norris - she was our fourth foster cat (and first foster fail!).
What was the adjustment period like for Mrs Norris?
Courtney: EASY! She is such an easy going cat. She walked in, ate some food, and cuddled with us!
Paul: I laid on the ground to try to get down to her level, and she decided to climb onto my chest. I’ve only had one other cat do this to me, which was my cat Max from South Africa who sadly passed a number of years ago from old age. It was really special.
What was the adjustment period like for you?
Paul: The first few days/nights are always interesting - more so for Courtney because she gets nervous that the cat can’t find everything or might get into a cupboard or another tight space they shouldn’t. So I tend to try to reassure her that everything will be fine.
Courtney: Yes, the first few days always make me a little anxious, but it’s usually for nothing because the cats adjust so quickly!
How did you prepare your home for Mrs Norris before she joined you?
Courtney: She joined us as a foster cat, so we prepared the same way we do for all our foster cats: We disinfect our apartment, wash cat beds, get a new scratch pad and new toys of course! We like to get a variety of toys because you just never know which one will be the favourite! For Mrs Norris, it’s her catnip beaver!
What’s been the most surprising thing about your relationship with Mrs Norris?
Courtney: Well, we expected her to adjust well like all our other foster cats and find her favourite spots in the apartment.
We didn’t expect to fall absolutely head over heels in love with her and adopt her!
When did you realize she was already in her forever home?
Courtney: She was supposed to be a foster cat that we would help to find her forever home, but she captured our hearts. I don’t think it was a specific point in time or day where we were like “Yup, we are keeping her!” It was more that we felt like she had always been part of our family. She didn’t feel like another foster cat to us, she felt like she belonged.
How does she enrich your lives?
Paul: She has the cutest belly which she lets us rub! She also does this thing when she’s falling asleep, where she almost sucks her tongue against her teeth which makes a very cute noise!
Courtney: I love the noises she makes. She’s a very chatty cat but she doesn’t meow (unless it’s food time). Instead, she makes little chirps and a series of purrs. We also found that because she is so easy going, she was pretty relaxed about wearing a harness and lead, so we have been taking her to the local park which she absolutely adores!
How much care does she need on a daily basis?
Courtney: Personally, I don’t think it’s a lot of care. She needs to be fed (of course), fresh water given morning and night. She gets brushed daily because she is a medium haired cat, and there is playtime of course. So, while having a cat is a lifelong commitment, you do not have to spend every waking moment entertaining or taking care of them. Mrs. Norris does a lot of sleeping (as do most cats!) which is also great for us, especially because she sleeps through the night from 11 p.m. to around 7 a.m. (give or take). We make sure to have a structured routine for her which also works well! We follow the rules of hunt/play, eat, groom and sleep.
How often does she need to visit the vet?
Courtney: She was at the vet before we got her, so she will probably go again in a year's time for a general check up! Barring nothing going wrong, an annual visit to the vet is standard for your cat.
What advice would give to someone thinking about fostering a cat?
Courtney: Go for it! It is such a rewarding experience! If you love pets but aren’t in a position to commit to one for a long period of time, then fostering is a great way to scratch that itch – not to mention you are helping a lovely creature to find its forever home.
Paul: It really is a great way to get to know different cats and their personalities! We don’t have the set up for any kittens or pregnant cats, so we focus on only taking adult cats in to foster, so it’s lovely we can specify what age cats we want.