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sharing cats between divorced owners

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
my wive and I are recently dirvorced and living about 2 miles from each other. We couldn't have kids, so our cats were our kids. Obviously this creates a problem in a divorce. I'd like to have the cats one or two nights a month at my house. My ex thinks it will be too rough on the cats to try to move them to another house for a visit (they're primarily indoor). I say the probably won't care. I just don't want them to forget me.
post #2 of 15
Cats are not like dogs and do not do well being shuffled from place to place which causes lots of stress for them.

The best thing to do if you want to spend time with them is stay friends with your ex wife and go there for periodic visits with the cats.
post #3 of 15
Depends on the cats, some can do well coping with change others cannot.
post #4 of 15
My husband got the house, so my husband got the cats. Just like with children, the question is, what's best for them? I really, really missed Mad Madeleine and Shelley, but they were better off in the house they'd grown up in. And, happy as they were to see me, they loved my former husband, too, so I didn't feel completely awful about it. However, I know how you feel.

It's a good point by missymotus - might your ex-wife agree to bring them over to visit and see how they do with a strange place but familiar people? Then at least you'd know for sure if they liked the getting-shifted-about bit.
post #5 of 15
For one thing, smells in your house will change continuously (as they will in her house), but to the cats, they'll be strange each time, and that alone will upset them, never mind the travel, or just not being 'home' where they feel secure. It's really not a good idea at all and I wonder if you've considered getting yourself a pet anyway, so you won't feel so alone (and with nothing to clean up after :-). Visiting them is good, dragging them around is not.
post #6 of 15
Very few cats will adjust to being taken to another place 1-2 nites a month. They prefer to stay in one place. I've only had 2 cats in my life that didn't care where they hung out (they were show cats) and you could take them anywhere as long as they were with you. Charlie is probably the 3rd one - he's pretty good at not caring where he's taken

I know you don't want to hear it, but unless you both agree on who gets which cat permanently, then don't be switching cat's houses back and forth. If you can't agree, then adopt a cat for yourself and let her keep the ones you have (or vice versa). Cats need more of a stable environment.
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Yeah, certainly not what I want to hear. I'd thought about just trying one night to see if they freaked out or not, but I don't want to cause them any undue stress. Unfortunately, it's too hard on us to see each other often (my ex and I) so it sounds like I'm going to have to learn to live without my cats.

I'd had both cats for almost 10 years. How long will it will take before they forget me?
post #8 of 15
I went to visit mine after not seeing them for four years and they remembered me, sort of - normally they are cautious when a stranger comes in the house, but they didn't run away when I came in. They were more like, "Hey, don't we know you from somewhere?" So given their memory for smells and voices and all, they might never actually forget you...but if you are asking, will they pine away for you forever? Answer is no, they won't take long to get over your absence. Cats are pretty resilient that way, and I for one am glad - hate to think of them mooning around the house looking for me for any length of time.
post #9 of 15
It really depends on the cats. They probably *won't* adjust to being moved back and forth. You could try to do it the way that was suggested above and go to visit the cats, but I know that wouldn't do it for me. I also wouldn't be satisfied with one or two nights every so often.

How close are the cats? If they're not particularly close, you might consider splitting them up, or you may consider doing a more semi-permanent solution like two months or three months with each of you. I think this will still be frustrating to the cats, as they'll just be bonding with the person they're with and then will be moved to the other person and start to form a bond, only to be moved again. It will be less upsetting to them, though, than being in one place to go visit for a few days, in my opinion. Overall, though, I think that moving them back and forth is going to be very traumatic to the two of them.

If you do decide to share custody of them, make sure you do things like take a blanket that smells like them and move it with the cats. This will at least give them something that has a consistent smell to it. It will help them adjust a little. You might consider using more than one thing in that manner.. a blanket or bed or two that move with them, and maybe use a cat tree or something that never gets "washed" that will retain their scent. That being said, you might want to rub a sock on their faces (on the sides, mouth and cheek where the scent glands are) when they come back and put it on the cat tree, because their scents fade over time, and fairly quickly.

If they are more bonded with one person than the other, then they should stay with the person that they are most bonded to. If they are most bonded with each other, they shouldn't be split up. You might also work out a situation where you're either going to visit them regularly, or in such cases as your ex will need a "cat babysitter" you could go and take care of them, or watch them at your house while she's away, so that you get time with them. If you guys are friendly, then make time to go play with them, particularly if you can do it while she's at work if you guys are on a different schedule (and if she's okay with that and doesn't have a problem with you being in the house, or if they're living with you, vice versa)..

It's really a tough situation all around. I'm sorry to hear about your split, and most especially to know what kind of situation you're in with not getting quality time with your kitties. I hope it all works out for you, and please keep us posted.
post #10 of 15
I'd say that most cats don't adjust well to be moved between homes, but some might adapt well to it. A good friend of mine has a cat that absolutely loves to travel in a car and she brings him with her when she goes to visit her parents. He moves around her mother's house with absolutely no stress.

I think it depends on the cats and their tolerance for both car rides and change. If they absolute creatures of routine, then it might not be a good idea.
post #11 of 15
I do agree about the who do the cats bond better with as determining who the cats stay with. Even if you've had them for 10 yrs, if they seem to bond better with her, then let her have them. You go adopt a kitten or two from the shelter if you want some companionship (of the 4-legged kind)
post #12 of 15
Originally Posted by domswin;
I'd had both cats for almost 10 years. How long will it will take before they forget me?
I go to visit my sister in another state about once a year and her cat (who died this year) always remembered me.

The thing is, cats may show it more when you hang out for a while. My sis's cat would come say "hello" when I arrived, then would come sit on my lap at night when we were watching TV and then would sleep in the same bed as me for part of each night. So, depending how comfortable/uncomfortable you and your ex are hanging out at all post-divorce, your cats might remember you but you might not realize it. Either way, I think as long as there's one person who's a constant in their lives, they'll be okay.
post #13 of 15
I've been through something similar, and it's rough, but the important thing is what is best for the cats. I know you'll miss them, but with cats so wedded to their territory, most cats won't do well.

I agree with the posters who tried to look on the bright side: this is an opportunity to give another couple of cats a great home.

Loss is like that.

Sometimes, love is too.
post #14 of 15
Aw, that's tough. Loving your cats means doing what is in their best interest even if it's more difficult for you. I would keep them in one place and whoever doesn't have "custody" of them can visit them when it's not too burdensome on the other person.

I know you don't want to replace them, but you could take this opportunity to give another cat (or two) a much-needed home.
post #15 of 15
I think it depends on the cat.

I take my cat back and forth to my boyfriend's apt a few times a month and she's fine with it and totally comfortable in both places.
She's always been a fairly mellow and confident cat when it comes to traveling and new places.

So you could try it and see.

But if I were you, I'd get my own cat too, to see on a daily basis...
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