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i've moved and i miss my neighbor's cat

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I recently moved to an apartment in a new city, leaving behind my neighbor's cat, who over the past year-and-a-half adopted me. I bonded with him and now miss him terribly, and am wondering whether I did the right thing by leaving him behind. He has lived for 5 years in the beautiful, protected garden of a small, lovely apartment complex with my neighbor, who is rarely home because of business travel. The cat first began to visit me after work in the evenings, and was soon eating at my place, then snuggling with me on the sofa, and ultimately sleeping on the foot of my bed most nights. I discussed all but the snuggling and sleeping part (too embarrassing!) with my neighbor, who was pleased that someone could care for her cat while she was away (though she lamented that her frequent travel precluded her from being better at it).

When I discovered that my own work demanded that I move to an urban city without outdoor apartments, I knew that I would have to leave the kitty behind. It seemed wrong to take my neighbor's cat, firstly, and also dreadful to move him from his own little eden to a nice but still indoor environment. Did I do the right thing? I miss the little guy SO much and am so afraid that I hurt him by getting close and then abandoning him. Is he there - 3 weeks later - wondering what happened to me? Are cats more attached to places than people? Should I email my neighbor about courriering her cat to me? Was it terrible for ever having let him into my life? This was my first cat relationship and I'm just not sure what to do, and was hoping more seasoned cat folk like yourselves might have some insight on the matter. Thanks kindly for your thoughts and help!
post #2 of 16
Aw, this is a really, really difficult question to answer. I agonized about this myself when we'd rescue a stray we couldn't bring inside for a lot of reasons. She was an independent outdoor girl, and I thought we were moving soon, and when I say I agonized about what to do, I mean I agonized for months.

The problem is that territory is more often important to a cat than people. Now - that's not to say that they don't bond with people. If she was snuggling and sleeping with you regularly, then I'd say it sure sounds like she'd really bonded to you.

When your neighbor was home, would kitty still come sleep with you?

I think I'd use that as the deciding "vote" - unless kitty returned home at night and wasn't let out, so didn't have the option to be with you.

Personally, I think it's irresponsible of your neighbor to just leave kitty behind to fend for herself while traveling. Someone who travels that much really shouldn't have a pet, in my opinion.

We live in a rural area, and there are many people who allow their cats to roam. The kitties we rescue (and the kitties we adopted) are all inside-only cats. There are so many dangers out there. There's been a lot of debate on this site about whether cats should be indoor-only or not, and there are some big cultural differences on the subject, too. I'm not opposed to indoor-outdoor kitties, but in urban areas, I really have to say the risks are just too high for a kitty to be allowed outdoors.

If kitty came to visit you even while your neighbor was home, if she'd come to think of your home as hers, then she may be feeling abandoned. Though her territory is very important to her, if you two are close, then she (or he, sorry) would probably be able to make the transition to indoor-only kitty.

If you're willing to invest in some toys, scratching posts, even some cat furniture (feel free to peruse the many kinds available - you can easily search for stuff through www.meowhoo.com ), make sure you play with kitty interactively for at least 10 - 15 minutes every day, there's no reason she won't be happy inside. I'd consider contacting your old neighbor.

Here's several articles you might find helpful: Bringing Home a New Cat
Tips for Keeping Your Indoor Cat Happy

Make sure kitty is spayed or neutered - that will definitely affect his/her behavior, promote his/her health and longevity, and make him/her happier being inside and not allowed to roam.

You'd also have to learn to clip his or her claws. It won't be easy or fun at first, but for you to be happy and unhurt and for kitty to not harm your furniture, carpet and floors, it's essential.

There is LOTS of advice about scratching in many threads here, and if you decide to bring kitty home (and your neighbor is OK with that), I suggest you read them. It isn't simply stick out a sisal board and the cat will know what to do. With a little effort on your part, however, the transition should be easy for both of you.
post #3 of 16
Oh - BTW. We ended up adopting her to someone. Apparently she was ready to become an indoor-only cat.

One last thought - if your neighbor doesn't want you to adopt the kitty, why not consider visiting a shelter? There are so many kitties that need homes.....
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your care and advice, Laurie. To answer the critical question - kitty did come to my place and snuggle and sleep, even when his owner was home. I feel terrible thinking that he's back there feeling abandoned, now!

I totally agree with you - I think that someone leaving their kitty alone for days at a time is questionable as a pet owner. I just didn't want to be overly judgemental, as I know she does care for him and can't help the demands of her job. I'll read up on the links and think about what to do. Will keep you posted!
post #5 of 16
I think that you should call the old neighbor, and ask her if she would allow you to have "custody" of the kitty. Kitty probably misses you, and would get used to living inside.
post #6 of 16
Thanks for replying, bigkittylove! Please let us know what you decide to do!

(And after your reply, I'm totally leaning toward calling your neighbor and "rescuing" your kitty!)
post #7 of 16
I would call your old neighbor, too. The worst that can happen is that she says, "no," and you and the cat continue living apart as you already are. The point is, you don't lose anything by asking.

If she says no, I'd go to the nearest shelter and bring home two kitties (two are always better than one!!) of your own to love.
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks to everyone for your thoughts on this matter! I am going to contact my former neighbor to see how the kitty is and whether she's willing to give him up to me - you're right DiMa, the worst thing is that she'll say no. I'll keep you posted! (My second option is definitely to adopt - which will raise a whole other series of questions for you!)
post #9 of 16
Call your old neighbor right away. I made this mistake many, many, MANY years ago with a neighborhood dog--in Bremerton, WA. Fritzy spent everyday and night at our house, and we even offered the owner $500 to buy him. They said no. But honestly. He spent 6 days a week 24 hours a day with us without the owner ever even NOTICING.

I found out that Fritzy was hit by a car a year after I moved. I always regretted not being more aggressive about taking him...

Sounds like you would too.

Although, if the neighbor does say no, it is their cat. So a shelter kitty would be a great companion as well.
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone. Thanks for your thoughts. I thought you'd like to know that with your encouragement, I emailed my former neighbor inquiring about the cat's well being (not yet asking if she would give him up to me) and just heard back from her.

It sounds like kitty is actually doing OK. She said that he now hangs out with her alot more, when she's home. She mentioned that she thought it strange that now he is now sleeping in bed with her, something he had never before done (I had a giggle, when I realized that he must've learned that from me - but was glad that he wants to and she lets him).

It sounds as if they have resumed the relationship thye had before I came around and that he's getting love from her, when she is there to give it. That fact - combined with the fact that he has this protected outdoor space where he can watch the apartment complex visitors come and go all day - makes me think that it would be best to let him stay with his current owner. My greatest concern is that he's happy and well, and while it would be nice if his owner was there more than 1/2 or 2/3's of the time, she does care for him and loves him. It seems pulling him from his owner and home of 5+ years might not be ideal for him.

Anyway - this is my rationalization for not asking her to send him to me. I would, of course, proceed with plan B and find a kitten at the shelter, since I'm now fully converted into yet another crazy cat lover. Do you think this sounds reasonable?
post #11 of 16
Hi bigkittylove

Oh I just read this now , what a heart warming story . I agree with you bigkittylove to let her owner keep her cat . It sounds to me that this cat also love the owner . I think it would be great if you would adopt from a local shelter and give a new cat hope and life and of course a new mom . Please let us know how things will go , thanks
post #12 of 16
I'm happy for owner & kitty - though still a little concerned just because the owner leaves kitty outside when she travels. BUT, there are so many cats that need and deserve homes, I think it sounds completely reasonable to adopt other cats in need!

I too, think you should adopt two. They keep each other company when you're at work, and unlike with dogs, two cats don't require much more work than just one.

Male cats tend to be more social, though this is NOT a rule! Female cats can bond with one person. Our males have been more accepting of new cats - our females, not so, though they always do in the end, it just takes them longer. But if you adopt them at the same time, this shouldn't be an issue.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with adopting just one kitty. If kitty has a window to look out, you rotate the toys and spend time alone playing with kitty every day for at least 10 - 15 minutes, many, many kitties are perfectly happy being single, indoor cats.

We have five - and I can still tell that Lazlo, our first, would have been just as happy being alone. He doesn't mind the other four, but I think he would be just fine being the only one to receive all the attention.

Feel free to ask away! The Cat Lounge or Behavior will be helpful. And, of course, once you have kitty, this Health Forum is an INVALUABLE resource!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Though you should NEVER hesitate to call the vet, EVER. )
post #13 of 16
Originally Posted by bigkittylove
Anyway - this is my rationalization for not asking her to send him to me. I would, of course, proceed with plan B and find a kitten at the shelter, since I'm now fully converted into yet another crazy cat lover. Do you think this sounds reasonable?
Go to the shelter and get TWO - not one - kitty There are a million reasons why you should always adopt in pairs and only one reason not to...and I don't know what that reason is

Seriously, read this article for more info:

post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
I am feeling alot better about the kitty I left behind, and am looking forward to giving a home to others. I totally understand your concern, Laurie, about his being outside part of the time. However, I think he has a very safe habitat in a protected courtyard, that is free from traffic, predatory animals and the other big dangers to cats. The ideal of course would be that he'd be indoors and have a guardian to love him all the time - but the constant stimulus of being able to watch familiar neighbors come and go in a relatively protected area seems to make a happy life for him.

Though, for the record, I will definitely keep mine indoors, when I get them!

I went to a mobile adoption event yesterday and looked at kitties. It was a bit intimidating, and I ended up not coming home with any. Part of this was the setup - there were only a few kittens stacked in cages along a narrow sidewalk, with lots of people handling them and volunteers who seemed more interested in their conversations with oneanother than in getting the pets adopted. Also, I was too overwhelmed by the moment and I also realized that perhaps I need to let the dust settle from my recent move. I think I'll go to the main shelter in a couple of weeks - where I can meet more cats and really get to know the ones I bring home.
post #15 of 16
That's a really wise decision. Those mobile events are terrifying - for people as well as the cats. I can totally see being overwhelmed by it. I think it really is best to first wait until you're ready. You're not actually in mouring, which is good, but the emotional attachment and not "having" kitty is much the same (though knowing he's happy should help!)

I think it'd be a LOT nicer for you (and ultimately kitties) to be able to talk to shelter staff. You may find yourself walking out with older kitties and knowing more about their personalities as opposed to coming home with kittens - and no one knows what their personalities will be like! But at least you and kitties will get the attention you/they deserve before you decide to become housemates. Sorry if I've already told you this, but the snuggliest kitten in the world when we rescued her, Flowerbelle, is now a ball of energy in fur. She'll come sleep on me, resting on my legs, but god forbid I should ever want to love on her. Sometimes she's in the mood for being brushed, but she is just NOT a love-bug lap cat!
post #16 of 16
Well I'm glad that you're thinking of being a full time kitty mommy, and want to get some of those homeless babies into a home.
Tell us when you get them, and send us pictures!! we'll be with you whenever we can, and would love to see a kitty lover have a fur baby (or 2) all her own
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