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 Post subject: To cat or not to cat...?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:08 am 
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My husband (Nick) has a work colleague / friend person with a cat, we'll call her S. S got mr cat when he was a baby (I assume from a breeder) 10 months ago and now she's decided to go away for 10 months and needs someone to look after mr kitty. She wants us to look after him because we're vegan and she knows we'll be nice to him...last time she left him with friends they cut of his whiskers. The other option is that he goes to live with her mum who has three, apparently dominant, cats.

Nick's always wanted a cat (he had kitties growing up) and I've been open to the idea in the future but at the moment we travel for at least 7 - 8 weeks a year and we don't know anyone who could come and look after a cat at our house for at least two three week periods per year. I feel like it would be irresponsible to have a cat when we're travelling so much. I also like that we can just drop everything and disappear somewhere for the weekend and selfishly I don't really want to give that up.

Nick's been talking to S to work out what we'd do with the kitty whilst we're away and the plan would be for him to stay with S's mum. I kinda feel like if it's okay for mr kitty to be there for seven-ish weeks out of the 10 months she's away then wouldn't it be better for him to be there for the whole time rather than being taken backwards and forwards all the time?

The other issues are...

One, that she's expecting us to pay for all of the care of mr kitty whilst she's away. Apparently she's offered to cover the vet bills if any problems arise but there's been no mention of her paying for his food etc. Nick's totally okay with this as he thinks it's worth it to get to have a cute cat around for 10 months, I think she's just taking advantage or that she hasn't even really thought about it which I find super weird.

Two (which really worries me) is that yesterday she said to Nick that she'd understand if we wanted to keep him after the 10 months is up. This makes me think she might not come back (she's getting a 10 month NZ working visa which I know can be extended to two years, and she has family out there) and then we have mr kitty forever. We have plans to go away for at least three months in early 2015 and whilst my husband seems to think putting mr kitty in a cattery for however long we go away for is okay it makes me pretty uncomfortable - I mean 3 months would be horrible right? Ideally I want to travel for 6 months to a year so if she doesn't come back we'll probably have to find the kitty a new home which just seems unfair on everyone. He came to stay for the weekend and I already got super attached and cried when he had to leave. I don't think I could just give a kitty away to someone other than S after 10 months.

Does anyone with cat experience have any idea what we should do? I've been thinking about it for a week now (we need to give her an answer tomorrow) and my gut instinct is to say no. Obviously Nick wants to say yes!

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 Post subject: Re: To cat or not to cat...?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:36 am 
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Sounds like it's really not going to work well for you. Ten months is a long time, I think that's a bit too much of an ask when your lifestyle has led you not to have your own cat at the moment. If she's happy to potentially give the cat to you at the end of this period she's obviously not that attached to him. I expect she'd prefer to rehome him but a) can't be bothered or b) doesn't want to appear a heartless bisque.

The conflict saying no will cause between you and your other half at the point is nothing compared to the consistent conflict it will cause later on when faced with him thinking a cattery is an acceptable option for a long trip away and you feeling like you can't go away because of that - you'll be thinking he's heartless and he'll be thinking you're making a fuss over nothing and it could damage your opinions of each other - to me that's a recipe for relationship disharmony that's best avoided.


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 Post subject: Re: To cat or not to cat...?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:11 am 
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Yup, sounds like Not To Cat is the right answer here - it seems as if S is keeping a foot in both camps, not too attached to Mr Cat so not bothered if he is rehomed somewhere nice, but kind of wanting to keep options open to get him back if and when she returns from NZ. Not fair on Mr Cat, and not fair on you.

It sounds as if you are nearly ready to be full time kitty parents, but have to do your travelling first. Mr Cat is not for you. Another kitty will be waiting in the wings for you (or more likely in the Brighton rescue) once you've travelled and you are back.

Also, decent catteries round here cost a tenner a day at least - so three months of that would be pretty pricey.

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 Post subject: Re: To cat or not to cat...?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:36 am 
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I would worry about her just leaving the cat permanently with you as well.

I once took a friend's cat for 6 weeks, because he was going on vacation. He left us with food and promised he'd be back. He dodged my calls for months and then eventually I needed to move to Europe for an internship and he still kept blowing me off. So then I found a new home for his cat and told him that they would happily give the cat to him if he talked to them and gave them contact details. He never took the cat back, but proceeded to wage a campaign of rumors against me. He called the law school that I had been admitted to and pretended to be a professor of mine at Rutgers and accused me of cheating and there was an investigation and even though clearly I hadn't ever cheated, I still had some unfortunate stress and unnecessary fallout from the whole thing. Not that that will happen to you, but that was my experience.

I don't think it would be a problem to put the cat in a cattery, or leaving him with S's mum while you travel. So if you are willing to accept the risk that you may be stuck with Mr Cat, then I say do it! But if you don't want a cat permanently and you don't feel like you can trust S to come back, then it sounds like Mr C is not for you.

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 Post subject: Re: To cat or not to cat...?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:28 pm 
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Cats can easily live 18 years or longer, so until you're both ready for a long term commitment, don't adopt one! Taking a cat to a "cattery" for the extended stays you see in your future would be cruel, but you might be able to pay someone to live in your home, to house and cat sit, if you decide to go ahead with it?

We never leave for more than 10 days, but it does cost us $40/US per day for our catsitter to stop by twice a day to feed and check on things. When we've had a housesitter in the past, it was a little cheaper.

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 Post subject: Re: To cat or not to cat...?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:44 pm 
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I'd say, if your biggest concern is the cat being at yet another house if you go away here and there, then don't worry too much. Going away over night (or even two) shouldn't be a problem as long as someone can stop in and make sure there's fresh food and water.

As for paying for stuff, that depends on you guys. If I wanted to rent a cat I probably wouldn't mind paying food and litter, and I'd be helping a friend.

The concern about the friend not returning or understanding if you want to keep the cat? That's what worries me. If there's actually a chance this person might not return, and would actually dump their cat on you, I absolutely wouldn't do it.

If I was his friend, I would contact the breeder about long term boarding.

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 Post subject: Re: To cat or not to cat...?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:06 pm 
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Thanks for everyone's responses!

I got Nick to talk to her more after work today and it seems like she is either definitely coming back or if she doesn't come back she will either a) Be working in NZ in a job that's good enough that she'll be able to afford to get Mr Kitty out there too or b) Mr Kitty will at that point be able to be re-homed with her dad (he's currently in the process of moving to our city) until she comes back to the UK.

I think we've decided that this will work for the 10 months if we set an actual fixed end date of before we go away in March 2014. We definitely can't have a cat forever and there is no way we're considering adopting him as a forever cat. We're totally on the same page about this. S knows this too and from Nick talking to her today it definitely seems like she's really attached to Mr Kitty and absolutely doesn't want to re-home him forever.

Moon, I like what you said about doing a friend a favour as this is essentially what this is. She's been having a really, really shitty time recently and I can definitely see why with all of the crazy life shiitake going on that she wants to get away for a bit.

Tofulish & RR it's interesting to hear that you guys are would be okay with putting a cat in a cattery for a short period of time if necessary. The reaction I got from other vegans was that's it's not okay at all. Maybe it depends on the cat?

I talked more to Nick about the cattery thing too and he said that he never meant that he thought it would be okay for three months. He meant a weekend or a week at the absolute most and with the agreement we have in place with her mum for our trip in Sept / Oct it's very unlikely to be necessary at all. Our vegan neighbour has a cat too and I'm sure she'd be down with feeding Mr Kitty if we wanted to go away for a weekend.

Also T'lish, that dude sounds like a totally crazy crasshole! I think the chances of that happening here are very slim!

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 Post subject: Re: To cat or not to cat...?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:00 pm 
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Cats don't typically do as well being boarded as dog do, but really it's not the end of the world. If you're doing a couple nights away the neighbour checking in should be more than enough. You can always fall back on boarding if you're in a real bind. I worked at a vet clinic where people would board their cats for 3-4 months while they went to Florida and I was flabbergasted. A weekend or week is totally survivable.

Set a firm end date and put it in writing what will be done if she doesn't physically come for the at by that date. Whether it will be her dad or another friend or that she will have to arrange to board the cat elsewhere or whatever - put it on paper. Sounds weird to do to a friend but 'fulish gave an excellent example as to why. Sometimes I see dog/cat care issues come up on Judge Judy or the like and it drives me nuts.

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 Post subject: Re: To cat or not to cat...?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:42 pm 
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Oh YAY! Yes, as long as there is a clear exit strategy and you trust S, that sounds great! Its great to clarify expectations by writing them down, especially where it comes to money. And definitely have her get pet insurance for Mr Kitty if she doesn't already have it, so you're not on the hook for vet bills (its a minor sum every month, but it means that you don't have to go after her in NZ for payment if you take Mr Kitty to the vet and she then refuses to reimburse you). Its in everyone's best interest, and I'd explain that to her as such.

As for boarding, I think there is a difference between what is ideal and what is workable. Being in a cattery isn't ideal, unlike having a neighbor come by and give him some snuggles, scoop the box and give him some food, but it isn't the worst thing, in my view.

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 Post subject: Re: To cat or not to cat...?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:58 pm 
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Glad you've come to a decision you agree on and you already know how much you will enjoy having him as you've had him before.
Will he be going outside? I think most cats who can come and go via a catflap do very well with someone popping in to feed them but an indoor cat may miss company more.


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 Post subject: Re: To cat or not to cat...?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 10:54 am 
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Getting everything in writing is such a great idea, I wouldn't have thought of that. Judge Judy would not be impressed!

Pet insurance is another thing I hadn't thought of but again I'm going to ask Nick to make sure S sorts it out before she leaves if she doesn't already have it.

rentaghost Mr Kitty is a house cat and I live right by a busy road so he definitely wont be going outside except perhaps in our totally covered (by a net!) backyard with us there.

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