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Cat Drama. The cat's the sane one.
October 16, 2009 10:22 AM   Subscribe

What is the best way to get my mom a kitten? Obviously, it's not quite that simple. Warning, overly long description of a ridiculous problem ahead.

My mom has a cat. A spayed female 7 year old calico cat that's scared of everything thats not my mom or dad (and even then, its sorta of hit and miss). She's not affectionate, won't cuddle, runs away from spiders and other neighborhood cats, and is generally a little neurotic. This cat used to be mine, but my parents took her in when I moved, and then, oddly enough, didn't want to give her back. My mom adores this cat, and all her quirks. Thats not the problem.

However, my mom is getting older, is a total cat person, and is worried this will be her "last cat". Given our family history with cats longevity, this one's probably got at least another decade in her. Trouble is, my mom really, really wants a cat that is affectionate and cuddly and all that good stuff some cats have to offer. But she refuses to do anything at all that might upset her current cat. Her exact words are "I would rather put her down than upset her safe haven that is my house". I think this is completely ridiculous, complete insanity, and that if my mom got a little cuddly kitten, there is no way this older cat could have any problems with it is they were introduced properly. Worst case they might never be best cat friends, but it certainly wouldn't be a quality of life issue. Certainly nothing worth putting a cat down! Jeezus! When I think of all the homeless cats out there and how many are put down, this gets me *so* angry.

If you go through my posting history, you'll notice I recently fostered a resuced momma cat and her litter. I wanted my mom to have one of these kittens, and she probably would have taken one -- if the entire litter hadn't been black cats. My mom has an irrational superstitious fear of black cats. However, 8 months later, she's actually asked me to bring one of my "kittens" over. Unfortunately, they're not kittens anymore, and are definitely the kind of cat that would harrass my mom's current cat. So that's not an option. My cats would be okay with it (new playmate!) -- my mom's cat, not so much.

So -- how to I solve this? This is partially due to guilt on my part; I feel bad that my parents got my old neurotic cat (who I would've taken back, quite willingly!), and now I have three lovable affectionate cats that are exactly the kind of cat my mom wants (with the exception of their color!)

I've thought of getting her to foster a kitten, but my mom is afraid that she'll fall in love with the new kitten and the older cat won't get enough attention. I've thought of just getting her a male kitten myself and bringing it over and just making sure everybody deals. (There really is no risk she'll put the other cat down -- my dad wouldn't let her). Or getting my dad to not listen to my mom and just bring home a kitten anyway.

Sorry this is so long. I know it seems trivial, but this is actually causing major strife and arguments in my family. And here's the question -- given all this, how can I get my mom a new cat!?! How can I convince her it won't cause the current cat to have a mental breakdown? Added difficulty: it also has to be a cat with the desired personality traits of cuddliness and friendliness, otherwise we're just compounding the problem.
posted by cgg to Pets & Animals (22 answers total)
 
Never force someone to take an animal for any reason whatsoever, no matter what you think of the reason.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:24 AM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


It is not your place to force another pet on your mom.
posted by amro at 10:27 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, I don't know what "problem" you're worried about compounding, as you say that your mom adores her current cat.
posted by amro at 10:28 AM on October 16, 2009


Sounds like your mom is happy with the cat she has and sees no need for another. You mom is an adult, and one would assume if she wanted another cat she'd get one.

This said, kittens generally defer to larger older cats, so doubt this would even be an issue.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:30 AM on October 16, 2009


It very well could cause serious problems for the old cat. I tried to introduce a new cat into my household and after six weeks of steadily worsening hell, finally admitted it was not meant to be. Fortunately I had a friend who wanted to adopt a cat and was able to take in the newer one.

Anyway, it's not guaranteed to be sunshine and roses between your mom's cat and a new kitten, even if you introduce them the "correct" way. Sometimes cats don't do well with other cats, and given the neuroses you are describing, it sounds like a good bet that could be the case here.
posted by something something at 10:33 AM on October 16, 2009


I guess I should clarify, in simpler worlds -- my mom wants a kitten. She just doesn't want to upset the older cat. And is unnecessarily sacrificing her desire to have a cute and friendly cat because the older cat might get upset.
posted by cgg at 10:33 AM on October 16, 2009


It sounds like while she might want a kitten, she also feels it's not worth the hassle of introducing them and possibly upsetting the older cat. That's a valid decision. I'm not sure I understand how this could cause so many ongoing arguments. If it's because you're trying to convince her to get another cat when she doesn't want to deal with the downsides, the solution would be to just quit trying to persuade her.
posted by lemuria at 10:48 AM on October 16, 2009


The older cat will get upset--that's all but guaranteed. I think your mom knows her pet better than you do. There's nothing to "solve" here, so drop it.
posted by balls at 10:49 AM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I guess I should clarify, in simpler worlds -- my mom wants a kitten. She just doesn't want to upset the older cat. And is unnecessarily sacrificing her desire to have a cute and friendly cat because the older cat might get upset.

It sounds like there's two things that she wants, and she's decided which one she wants more. Let it go.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:51 AM on October 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Is Feliway an option? Even without the addition of another kitten, the Feliway might help the existing cat chill out a bit, which will probably do it some good. And if another kitten does later get introduced, it'll probably be better able to handle it.
posted by Solomon at 10:57 AM on October 16, 2009


You might try the approach that the older cat will be upset, because cats upset other cats when they're introduced, but ultimately it might be healthy for the older cat to have a younger cat around to keep him moving, and maybe even socialize him a bit more. Stasis isn't great for anybody.

If your question is, how can I help my mom give herself permission to get a second cat, finding scenarios where this has worked out might help her also.

But really - you might also consider why this is such a big deal for your mom. She sounds like a worrier. She sounds like she doesn't really embrace change. She sounds like she doesn't like to take risks. In short, she sounds a lot like her cat. I'm not sure what to say about that, but it's something to keep in mind -- that this might be more personal for her, and less of a logic-based argument, then is apparent on the surface.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:02 AM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


How old is your mom? A friend of mine is 89, and he didn't want to replace his dog when it died in 1993. He also thought that taking in a cat would mean "it'll be gnawing on my carcass before the neighbors find me" (almost an exact quote).

He house-sat my roommate's hamster when we were both out of town, and enjoyed that so much that he ended up taking in a senior kitty who was just as withdrawn and grumpy as your cat seems to be. She had two glorious years of getting spoiled before passing away. He now has had another cat for about 9 years and is having a grand old time with her.

I just wanted to say that, so you could maybe tell your mom that she probably has a good few years of cat-owning ahead of her!
posted by vickyverky at 11:17 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


She just doesn't want to upset the older cat. And is unnecessarily sacrificing her desire to have a cute and friendly cat because the older cat might get upset.

"Unnecessarily" is your value judgement, your mom can figure this out. If anything, you can tell her that if she ever decides she REALLY wants a kitten rather than talking about it, you can help her, then drop it. Maybe she's only talking about wanting a kitten because you keep talking about it, though, so consider that she's maybe just being diplomatic here.
posted by rhizome at 12:00 PM on October 16, 2009


Seconding let it go
posted by bunny hugger at 12:03 PM on October 16, 2009


Thanks for all the advice. There are a lot of good points made, but I think in the end, just letting it go is what I need to do. The cats are forefront here, and there's definitely to the story (including resentment of the original cat I forgot to mention), but yeah... as much as I want my mom to have as good a cat experience as I've got right now, there's not much I can do unless she comes to her own conclusion that that is what she wants, and is willing to actually do something about it.
posted by cgg at 12:10 PM on October 16, 2009


You didn't forget to mention it, you said it wasn't the problem.
posted by rhizome at 12:23 PM on October 16, 2009


A kitten might not be the answer; what about an older cat (say one year or older)? Perhaps you can find a rescue of that age who needs a home (and is of appealing colors to your mom) that might ping your mom's nuturing side. A kitten by virtue of his youth and cuteness might attract excess attention in the home and make existing cat very jealous - he will view the baby as a rival, not as an equal. My lengthy anecdote.... Many years ago, when I still lived at home, I brought home an eight week old kitten that someone from my office had attempted to adopt but could not keep. My Mom was solidly anti-cat, and our family had never had a pet, but someone this little ball of fur we named Sparky wormed his way into Mom's heart. Soon he was her "baby." Sparky was very spoiled and disdainful of other animals. But about seven years later this raggedy, skin-and-bones cat appeared out of nowhere and started hanging around our back yard. He'd meow on our porch and my soft-hearted Dad would bring food out for him. Mom repeatedly said "No more pets, besides, Sparky wouldn't like him." But one day a severe storm was looming, and Mom was at the kitchen sink doing dishes when she saw Stray Cat in the tree outside the kitchen window lookiing at her, clinging desperately to a branch as the gale force winds whipped at him. She relented and said "Well, I can't refuse him when he looks me in the eye like that...we'll let him in until the storm is over." Sparky was hesitant and distrustful for maybe an hour, but to all of our surprise, before the storm had ended both cats had curled up together on my parents' bed with my Dad while he napped. Of course, Frisky (we let Dad name him) became part of the family after that, and he and Sparky did become pals, although Sparky was always clearly the Boss. Two years after we adopted Frisky, Sparky became very ill and passed away, and while his death hit Mom very hard, it turned out to be a good thing that Frisky was there. I'd overhear her talking to him and spoiling him like she used to do with Sparky. Because Frisky had been in the household for a few years already, he wasn't viewed as a "replacement" cat, he was more of a cat who'd lost his older brother.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:31 PM on October 16, 2009


I'm not 100% sure why you gave up on having your Mom foster a kitten or two, or even a cuddly but quiet older cat; it's temporary if it really doesn't work out with the other cat, and the new cat could go to a permanent home with no guilt on yours or your Mom's part. On the other hand, if it works out, that could be wonderful.

Seems like it might be a way to find out for sure if the current kitty really has to be an only kitty.
posted by amtho at 12:35 PM on October 16, 2009


Thought I would weigh in since I was actually given a cat once, as a surprise, by loving family members who thought they were going to thrill me. Big mistake. I love cats but it was the wrong time, the wrong place, the wrong everything--just impossible. Created a huge drama when I had to say no, although I tried my hardest to explain. All involved ended up feeling terrible--they thought I was hard and ungrateful; I thought they were thoughtless to put me (and the cat!) in this position. Ultimately, one of the gifters kept the cat. So, I'd say, I do think you are right to let your mother control this very personal decision. You say the cat does connect with your parents, even if sorta hit or miss--and your description seems to show your mother's heart has gone out to her oddball. If another cat comes into her home, it's best for her to make the choices--which and when and how. By all means, give her your support if you want... research ways to help the older cat adjust, and talk with her about it; maybe even promise to help if they need it. Good wishes, to your family's humans and felines both.
posted by Bet Glenn at 6:02 PM on October 16, 2009


Go to the Pet shelter, select a nice, mellow, kitten. Bring Mom photos of adorable fluffy goodness, not as an idea, but as an actual kitten who needs a home.
posted by theora55 at 8:35 PM on October 16, 2009


Have you got room to take in another cat? Maybe you could suggest to your Mom that she foster a kitten, with a backup plan that if it doesn't work out/old cat gets too grumpy/whatever, the kitten could go and live with you. I'm guessing you probably wouldn't need to use the backup plan though..
posted by procrastinator_general at 3:37 AM on October 17, 2009


Firstly - never never NEVER!! get somebody a cat (or any animal other animal should you need that clarification). It's nice to be the kind of person that would think of doing such a thing and it sounds good in theory. But in reality it's a completely fucked thing to do to someone. Animals are just not gifts... in any sense of the word.

Secondly - SHE SAID NO!! Back off. this is actually causing major strife and arguments in my family... They don't want the fucking cat ok??

Thirdly - Your mom seems a savvy caring cat person and you are being breathtakingly naive. Her cat is giving every indication that this would be a less than ideal transition. This worst case scenario you allude to? I have to wonder what you think might never be best cat friends would entail...? Bitter unhappy cats are not fun to live with all and it CERTAINLY CAN descend into quality of life issues for ALL INVOLVED.

Being aware of that, taking calculated risks and being prepared for any consequences is all part of responsible pet ownership. And as the pet owner your mom has deemed this an unacceptable risk. So just stop it already.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 7:43 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


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