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What's best for my father and my cats?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Alright, I had no idea where to post this. Since it has to do with both my kitties and my family, I thought I'd ask for some opinions here. Bear with me, it's going to be a bit long and complicated. (and probably confusing!)

I have been seriously dreading the start of school because I have no idea what I am supposed to do. I'm starting my last year of college (which is 40 minutes away from my house) and I have an apartment there with my best friend. I come home every weekend because I work on Sundays in my home town and to spend time with my family. My mother died when I was 9 and my father never re-married. He's a very lonely person without me around since I'm the only person he really talks to. My 16 year old sister moved in with my grandmother about 5 years ago after my grandfather died because she couldn't take being alone and only lives down the street. My father and sister don't really know how to relate to each other. She almost never comes back home, but my dad goes to my grandmother's about every other day. However, my grandmother (his mother-in-law) and father don't always get along since my grandmother is the type of person who complains about everything and my father takes it very personal. So basically, all my father has is really me so I must come home on Fridays to spend time with him. (Plus, I miss being home too!)

(I swear, everything ties in.... lol)

Complication 1: My older cat Jazz came away to school with me. He was 14 so I never dared to even dream of taking him back and fourth every weekend. He was okay to stay on his own from Friday to Sunday afternoon. However, after he died, I rescued Teddy who was only 2/3 weeks old at the time. I had no choice but to bring him everywhere with me. (As a result, he actually loves to travel) Teddy is almost 7 months now. I adopted Milo because Teddy hated being alone. Milo is currently 4 months old.

Possible Solution 1: Leave Teddy and Milo at the apartment while I go home on the weekends. However, I feel like they are way too young, especially Milo, to be left alone for that long....

Possible Solution 2: Take them with me! (They both make weekly trips to my grandmother's with me and don't seem stressed by new environments. I watch this very closely!)

Complication 2: My "ultra macho, I don't like cats" father has fallen in love with the kittens, especially Teddy. My dad was home recovery from surgery for a month back in June and really, like REALLY, bonded with them. In my 21 years, I have never seen this level of affection from him. He actually carries around pictures of them to show them off. (Doesn't have any pictures of his daughters mind you! lol) He even cooked a giant Turkey because he thought that "his boys" would like it. He talks about them to EVERYONE! I feel like the worst person on Earth by not only leaving him by himself, but by taking Teddy and Milo away from him.
... However, they are MY kittens and love them too! I pay for all their vet bills, food, and everything and anything related to them.... that was actually my father's condition of me getting another cat after Jazz died.

Possible Solution: Leave Teddy home and take Milo.
Problem with Solution: Teddy and Milo love each other! They play all the time together. I got Milo FOR Teddy. Oh, also the fact that I hand raised Teddy from 2/3 weeks old, woke up in the middle of the night every few hours to bottle feed him as a baby, and since grown (obviously) VERY attached to him.

Possible Solution 2: Get my dad his own cat!
Problem with Solution: This was a long shot. He would NEVER go for it. It took me months to be able to get Milo and he has made it clear that 2 cats is the limit. Also, I would again have to take financial responsibility, and I know I'm at my limit. I never want my cats care to be in jeopardy because I took on more than I can handle. I also only have 2 semesters left. By May, I'll be back home to stay with both cats. (Plus I'll be home during all my vacations) I would love 3 kitties, but it wouldn't be practical for me at this time.

So to sum up my long and confusing question...

Do I commute with my cats, or leave them home?
Do I leave one at home for my father, or do I take them both?
post #2 of 13
Honestly as much as you love them I would leave them at home with your Dad. My dad died when I was 12. My mom has me my brother and her new DH(they dont get along very well and therefore he is never) I got a Shih-Tzu when I turned 17. Lexi(shih-tzu) and I lived at home for about 14 months. Shortly after I turned 18 I bought a house and moved out on my on..During the 14 months after I got Lexi that I lived at home My mom fell in love with her...she kept mom company was always there wagging her tail and waiting to be picked up by mom when she got home from a long day at the hospital(shes an RN)and there to comfort mom when she cried...of course Lexi done all these things for me as well but the more I thought about it I made a decision to leave Lexi with mom..It was the best thing I could have done for my mom...I took my cat and moved out. I still get to see the two of them quite a bit and of course I still miss Lexi but mom needed the company when I moved out and it helped her move on with dads death and me leaving home.
post #3 of 13
They sound like they would get a lot of love and attention with your dad, since you'll be really busy with school.

If you leave them both with him, he'll have company, they'll be well taken care of, and you'll still see them regularly. I know you love them and want to stay with them, but trekking back and forth between cities doesn't sound like much fun for a cat - they sound like they handle it ok, but do you think they'd prefer to stay in a house with your dad full time, or in your apartment going between cities?
post #4 of 13
Take them with you and commute with them. About once a month, suggest to your dad that he might like to adopt a cat. Don't leave them with him since they are your financial responsibility and your choice, so you should get the benefit of living with them! Don't leave the cats with him as a way to give him what he needs instead of what he says he wants. He's an adult. If he needs a cat, he can rescue one. You can help, and promise to take the cat if he ends up not wanting to keep it, but let him make his own decisions (and pay for the cat himself)!
post #5 of 13
Honestly, you're probably not going to want to hear this, but I agree with Brandi. I know you love Teddy and Milo, but it sounds like your dad is very lonely and they will keep him company while you are gone. It sounds like he is crazy about them, calling them "his boys", that is so cute! And obviously they love your dad too, especially the turkey dinners! You would be able to see them every weekend when you come home, so you won't be giving them up and you know they will get spoiled rotten.

Another option you have is sit your dad down and explain that you know he is attached to them, and see if he would be willing to get a cat of his own. Now that he has been exposed to cats and sees how loving they can be, he may be more willing (and more willing to foot the bill for his own cat). You can go and help him pick one out.

I would hate to see you break up your kitties because they would both miss each other, but I would hate to see your dad left alone in the house when he's now used to feline company. Who know, he may fall in love with a shelter cat and be completely happy to let his grandchildren go with you (with visits occassionally, of course! )

Good luck hon. This IS a hard decision!
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
The only problem with leaving them with my father is that, while they would definitely be loved, I'm not sure about the level of care they would have. I'm sure they would probably have to go without their litter changed from Sunday to Friday. My dad also loves feeding them table scraps and I'm worried he'd give them something that was bad for them. (I went a way for a weekend and I heard they had Tuna everyday... and he always cooks with onions and gives them some, even though I told him onions are bad for cats) He's the kind of dad that told you NOT to eat your vegetables, so I doubt he's going to follow the diet I have for Milo and Teddy. My dad also leaves the door open sometimes and forgets they can get out. If they ever got sick, he wouldn't take them to the vet. Also, Teddy loves my dad like he loves me... but Milo is my baby. He's only close to me... and my dad clearly favors Teddy over Milo.

My father does need some sort of companionship though. He has no friends really, hates his job, and keeps to himself. I've been trying to make up for this ever since my mother died. I know it's selfish to take Milo and Teddy because I love them when I'm sure they would take some of the void out of an empty house for my dad.... but it's kinda unfair to me as well since I'm crazy about my cats. As it is, I am 21 years old and usually spend my Friday and Saturday nights with my dad.

I'm just so torn.
post #7 of 13
If you don't think they will get the best care, then you probably do need to take them with you.

You know what I would do? I would take him out one day to go shopping, and just stop by the animal shelter. If you talk to him about this before hand he may get stubborn. Just say you like to look at the cats and spend time with them. See if any jump out at him and he falls in love. If he does, there's his companion. If he hears from someone at the animal shelter about table scraps or onions it may take more than if it comes from you. (honestly, we feed our cats table scraps as in steak, chicken or fish, but we put it on their plates...onions, I try not to but found a raw onion that I left on the counter with quite a few teeth marks on it...they are all still alive!).

If he had his OWN baby that he fell in love with, he would probably be more attentive to them. Because right now you are their to take care of your cats so he doesn't have to worry about it. He just needs to be shown what to do for his own kitty and I'm sure he will take good care of it.

This may be too personal, but I have to comment on it. You are 21 years old and you come home every weekend to keep your dad company. That is wonderful....but eventually you HAVE to start having a life of your own. It's hard when family obligations keep you from moving forward. Been there, done that. It's not fun, and eventually it can cause hostility and conflict. You can't make up for him losing your mom. You can be there for him, but you do have a right to live your life too. If this is working for both of you, then that is great, but if you are starting to feel this is a responsibility instead of something you want to may want to start thinking about what you are going to do after you graduate.
post #8 of 13
I admit that I did not read every post because I have an opinion based on being the mother of a 21 year-old daughter who is about to leave to go back east - not a commutable distance to the Bay Area. This will be her senior year but she has to live on campus, which is fine because there is always space and in her senior year she gets a cottage with her friends.

The college has a no pets allowed policy. When she left, her special budgie, Sandy Koufax, had to stay home. All my birds love me, but the minute Jenny comes home, it is to Sandy like she had never left. They have a bond.

But Sandy has a bond with us, too, and especially with his friend, Whitey Ford. They fly free in the house and we love them.

So, the cats have bonded with your dad and he adores them. You are going to be a senior in college and your last year can be difficult but also a great time to be with your friends.

You have your whole life ahead of you but your dad does not. Let him have the kitties. You can come and visit them and know that they are being loved by your softie dad.

It is a good idea if they are both together with your dad, so please don't separate them. You can discuss things with the cats and your dad after you graduate and get settled.

But that is just IMO but remember, I have a daughter your age - but I look younger than I am.

Have a great senior year, knowing that your dad is doting on his kitties.
post #9 of 13
i'd bring up the possibility of him adopting his own cat [or maybe a dog?]. worth a shot, anyway - he may be more open to the idea, now.
post #10 of 13
I know I already said your dad is an adult, but here I am saying it again.

If he hates his lack of a social life, he needs to get his own social life. If living with cats works for him as a substitute for having friends, he can decide that and get cats. But just because he's proud of YOUR cats (he might be proud of them because they are yours) doesn't mean they are good human substite for him.

What you've said about the way he (doesn't) care for them makes me think that he wouldn't make a good care-giver for them, and even makes me a little concerned about how he'd take care of his own cat.
post #11 of 13
My Sister had to leave her Cat behind at my Dads when she went to school out here. The Dorms do not allow pets. One day we got a phone call saying Midnight might be blocked again so we rushed to the Bay Area. I hid him in my Apartment until my Sister got her own place. I would try to get your Dad to adopt another cat. I would not go back and fourth with the cats.
post #12 of 13
I appreciate that this is a difficult decision to make. However, it seems from what you've said that your dad doesn't really have the cats' well-being and health at heart.

It is so easy to give them something bad for them since they love it so much (like tuna everyday), however, your dad needs to know that this will cause health problems in the long-run.

Sit down and have a serious talk with your dad. Draw up their feeding needs for each day (if they are fed different things each day) and how often would you permit him to give them snacks and what kinds of snacks are good for them and what are simply not allowed, and when their kitty litter needs to be changed. Ask him if he's willing to follow your timetable and instructions for the sake of the kitties.

If he's willing, leave the kitties with him. As you are coming back to visit every weekend, you can monitor the situation regularly. If it seems that your dad is not following up on his promises, take the kittens back.

If your dad flat-out says the kittens are too much work or something like that, then take both away to school with you. I would not recommend travelling long distances with both of them every weekend, though how well your kitties take it depends on their own personalities and your mode of travel.

Good luck with your sticky situation!
post #13 of 13
I suggest you keep your cats.
If you could depend on your father to take proper care of them , that might be different. But you are responsible for the care of your cats and putting them in the care of someone who may not take that responsibility seriously is not doing a good job by them.

It is not your fault nor your responsibility to correct your father's loneliness. Some people are hermits and will not change no matter what you do. He says he doesn't want a cat, take him at his word.
I raised my children. It is not their job to raise me.
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