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should we take him with us or leave him with loving neighbour?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
hello fellow cat lovers,

we have a heartbreaking dilemma. very recently we have had the opportunity to start living our dream and move from the city to the countryside. we are going to be moving soon- in the next couple of months. so that's the happy bit!!

the sad bit is that we don't know whether we should take our beloved cat, willow with us. first, some details of willow:

he is a lovely friendly rescue cat we think about 4 years old. we got him when he was still in kittenhood. although he is pretty independent, he has his quirks and is very much a 'scaredy cat'- he often runs outside or upstairs when the doorbell goes and has an annoying habit of waking us up at 5 am to accompany him downstairs so he can eat the biscuits that are already in his bowl!!! he is very scared of all but the smallest breeds of dog- even if they are softies who like cats- willow doesn't give them a chance. he really doesn't like it if we move furniture around or change anything in the house. he is just starting to get used to our daughter who is 7 months old but he was quite jealous/ scared of her to begin with. he sleeps on our bed every night. he was our original furry baby. we know that he thinks of us as his family.

so the first option- which is the one which would be best for us- is to keep him and take him with us to wales. but this involves a car journey of 200 miles, to a house and area he doesn't know. but the main problem is that we are moving in as lodgers and the guy who owns the house already has a big male cat who is lovely to people but very much a bully to other cats (the owner, olly, recently had to give his female cat away as they were fighting so much) and he has a medium sized dog who apparently is a softy and doesn't mind being lower on the pecking order to cats! but would willow give him a chance? the house is big and there is LOADS of outside space with neighbours living about a mile or so away so there should be enough territory for all of them. i'm just worried that even if we do everything we can to help willow settle in, he'll just get lost or run away or be stressed out (we already are having to order feliway for him cos he gets stressed easily and scratches and sprays in the house).

option two is to have him move in with our next door neighbour. she absolutely adores willow and always feeds him when we go away. he spends time in her house so presumably gets on well enough with her other 3 cats (well, maybe not so well with the 2 females but they are semi outdoors cats anyway. her male cat is about 15 and is confident enough in himself not to give willow any bother!) she used to have a tiny old dog who i assume willow was fine with if he chose to hang out in her house. she has a new tiny dog now and i think willow tolerates it too. maybe he doesn't see them as dogs! she hardly EVER goes away herself. so he would be loved and looked after, in a place that he is used to. but i think he would miss us. and we would miss him greatly.

so i'd like your opinions on what would be the best thing for him, because at the end of the day, that is the most important consideration.

thank you in advance for your time and thoughts


katy x
post #2 of 7
First of all I'll say that people successful move with their pets every day. I've relocated from a city to the country in the past with no issues. I've moved feral cats from one home to another with no issues. It can be done with some planning on your part and time spent to adjust a cat to its new location.

It seems to me that you may be putting too much emphasis on the dogs. Neighborhood dogs come and go, and Willow will have to adjust to them regardless of where you live.

The real question to you is whether Willow is bonded to his people (you), or to your current location. If you leave him, will he become more anguished by the fact that his people left him behind? Or does he love you and you can work with him to adjust him to his new home?

If you take him with you, keep him inside at the new location for about a month. This will allow him time to adjust to his new home and understand where his source of love and food are. When I moved my feral cats, I kept them inside my house for about a month, then when I allowed them back outside, they stayed close to the house.

In the end, we can't give you advice, only raise questions you may not have considered. You know Willow and have to consider all options that are best for his welfare.
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hello again,

Thanks for your reply, Momofmany. You are indeed right that only we know Willow best and I am aware that it is us who has to make the decision at the end of the day. But I would appreciate other cat lovers views and experiences.

From your reply I think I need to make a few things in my original post clearer.

1. Willow is TERRIFIED of medium sized to large dogs, no matter how sweet they are. When he was rescued, he had a bite at the base of his tail, it was assumed by a dog. The issue about moving isn't just random neighbourhood dogs, there is a dog living in the house with the owner of the house. We will be lodgers there. The way Willow deals with dogs at the moment who come to visit is just run outside and not come back for hours, even long after the dog has gone. We have got to the point of asking our friend to not bring her dog round any more if possible.

2. He is bonded to us, but also to our neighbour. I think he would miss us, but he loves her too, and spends time in her house already.

I am aware of the basic ways of helping a cat adjust to a new home. What I'm asking is should we put him through all this change and stress because we love him and he loves us best, or is it kinder to leave him in a situation he is already comfortable in, with a person he knows and likes who loves him? Bearing in mind he is a cat who dislikes change in his environment on top of the dog and the bully cat.

We are in two minds, and really need some help. Maybe someone could give us advice on helping a cat overcome major fear of dogs? (That sounds a bit silly :s) Has anyone else faced this dilemma and what did you do? How did it turn out?

Thanks again,

Katy x
post #4 of 7
Hi Katy,

this is a really difficult question and I can see why it is so difficult for you to know what's best.

Personaly I think cats will bond stronger to their people then to their territory. Willow seems to get on fine with your neighbour so he wouldn't loose her when you move away.

Have you spoken to your neighbour about the possibility of leaving him with her? Is she willing to take over the responsibility for him (also financially?). How likely is it that she herself will stay on to live there for the next 10 + years? How well does he really get on with her pets?

Same question goes for you: how long do you think you'll be staying in this new house and when and where are you most likely to move to next? If you take him with you now but have to move again in ... lets say 4-5 years you might not find someone who'd be so happy to take him as your neighbour now is.

How keen an outdoor cat is he? Maybe Willow would be better off as an indoor only cat? If you were to keep him as an indoor only cat (maybe taking him out on a leash on sunny days? or securing a balkony for him with a safety net?)- would you be able to seperate him from the tom and dog already living there?

The tom in the new house, you said he was a bully and that his owner had to give away his second cat because of this. This doesn't bode well, a dominant cat will stay a dominat cat- and a timid cat like willow will stay timid. The chances are that the same thing might happen again.

Make a list of the pros and cons and talk to your neighbour about this- she kows him equally well and might have an insight for you regarding this decision.


post #5 of 7
You said that he gets stressed and scratches and sprays? Do you think your neighbor, knowing that he has these behavior issues (hopefully she knows), would willingly take him on and not choose to rehome or turn him over to a shelter later when it proves difficult to deal with? Spraying is a big deal in a home with other cats, this could certainly be more than she's willing to take on. Honestly, I wouldn't even want to deal with that.

Also, that bite that was at the base of his tail when you first got him. That type of wound tends to be inflicted by other cats, usually a dominate tom trying to drive another male cat out of it's territory or wound the other cat in such a way it can't breed. I've seen it too often in young rescued male cats - and almost always these are not dominate males that get this sort of wound (dominate males tend to get face, neck, and legs bitten). A little O/T but it removes your theory about why he would be afraid and possibly unable to adjust to a larger dog.
That's simply due to him being a small animal around a larger unfamiliar one that he instinctively knows could seriously hurt him - most cats have this initial fear.
post #6 of 7
Definitely take the cat with you. I don't see anything in what you've described that isn't part of normal moving and adjustment. All cats are territorial and dislike change. That just means it might take a few months or a year before your cat is 100 percent settled-in; expect some adjustments and rough spots in the first little while, and just give the pets time to adjust and work it out.
post #7 of 7
I know you've said you will be lodging, but will you literally be sharing the whole house with him, or will you have your own outside access to your own part of the house? Are you moving any of your stuff or is the place totally furnished? With some familiar stuff around him he will be fine.

It does sound like a difficult situation...I couldn't imagine leaving Jasper behind but I can see how the circumstances would be difficult. I agree with the others, cats can adapt to most things. You can get a sedative for the journey if he's not a good traveller.
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