Here a cat, there a cat.
June 5, 2009 3:52 PM   Subscribe

What happens when two cats spend weekends together and weekdays apart? Our cat, Rupert, filled the position of Office Cat ever since we picked him up from the shelter. He commuted between our home and our office for fifteen months, spending Monday through Friday at our office; he was happy. When my husband retired a few months ago, Rupert retired too. He's about 2 now and lives at home full time. I miss having an office cat but I'm not sure getting another one is a good idea given my circumstances. How does it work when one cat regularly visits another's home but isn't a permanent resident?

My company is an easy-going place and we all miss having Rupert around; our work allowed plenty of opportunity to interact with him. There are people at the office from about 8:00 am to about 6:30 pm every day.

I've identified a new candidate for Rupert's job, a ten month old female named Meeko, who everyone has met and liked. However, I'm don't want to adopt Meeko if it would be unfair to either her or Rupert and I could use your perspective.

Meeko would also be an office cat. On weekends, she would either come home with me or, I suppose, she could stay at the office and I would check in on her (the office is only ten minutes from home). For what it's worth, Meeko has a cagemate at the shelter but Rupert did not. She was feral but is now friendly, playful and affectionate.

For a variety of reasons, none of the other employees can be the office cat's "owner of record," although I know they'll help out with Meeko as they did with Rupert. Honesty compels me to mention that I'm somewhat jealous; Rupert and my husband have become inseparable and I also miss being a cat's primary person.

Do you have any experience with regularly bringing the same cat to visit another cat? Does the usual advice about adding a second cat to a household apply? Are there other tactics that might work better? Do you think this is a bad idea and I should just get over not having an office cat anymore?
posted by carmicha to Pets & Animals (9 answers total)
It's been my experience with dealing with and reading about cats that they're not big on change, they like to know where their territory is and to know that it's secure. I think you lucked out that Rupert was OK with going back and forth, but I think if Meeko isn't OK with it, she could freak out and you might find your office ransacked one morning. I don't think it's worth potentially putting her through that, since she's probably been through a lot already as a feral cat. Plus, the thought of a playful, affectionate little kitty sitting alone in an office at night seems kinda sad to me.

I would go ahead and adopt Meeko if you miss having your own cat, but leave her at home. Or, try taking her with you in the morning and bringing her back home at night.
posted by amethysts at 4:28 PM on June 5, 2009

When I was in college, I'd bring my cat home to my parents' with me at least once a month. My experience was that the other cat (and later cats) just tolerated him and gave him a wide berth. There was an initial kerfluffle with the requisite hissing and what have you, but after the second, third, etc. time, both the first cat and later the second just came to accept that he was there when I was there, and treated the two of us with garden variety feline disdain.

Based on that experience, I would surmise that Rupert would have a similar reaction and might even be more easygoing about it all since he's used to being flexible. As far as helping Cat #2 with the situation, I think what helped my cat out the most was starting him out early. He made his first trek to my parents' when he was 5-6 mos old. I seem to recall something about cats' brains being very experience-dependent and if they didn't learn things in those early months, then they never would.
posted by messylissa at 6:15 PM on June 5, 2009

Why did Rupert retire? 2 is kinda young in cat years.:-) If your husband retired (from where you work?) Why did the cat have too? Couldn't you bring Rupert in to work & adopt the feral for home? Or maybe I am confused....
posted by patnok at 6:19 PM on June 5, 2009

I think it's very rare to find a cat that travels well. Out of the thirty or so cats I've had in my life, I can only think of one that liked being in the car, and maybe two more that tolerated it even moderately well. Maybe they'd get used to the back and forth, but maybe not.

I don't think you can count on selecting a cat at random and have it adapt to either the changing locations, or the car trips.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:26 PM on June 5, 2009

Response by poster: @ patnok: My husband and I each own small companies (in related fields) that share space in a former private house that we converted to offices: his firm's downstairs and mine's upstairs but the spaces connect. I decided to get an office cat for our floor. My husband opposed the idea, but promptly fell head-over-heels for Rupert. When Mr. Carmicha retired and turned his company over to a partner, he decided life at home would be much better with Rupert around 24-7-365, and thus both companies were left to manage without an Office Cat. Mr. Carmicha has met and likes Meeko, but Rupert is his darling boy.
posted by carmicha at 7:04 PM on June 5, 2009

OK that helps, If the new partner has no problem with a new office cat then give the overnight/weekends a try. how bad can it be? I agree most cats do not tolerate change well.
posted by patnok at 7:11 PM on June 5, 2009

I think the key to having a cat adjust to traveling is to introduce them to it early. My friend adopted a kitten when she was a few months old, and a month later had to go out of town, so she came to stay at my place for a week. She was totally fine. She has stayed here a few times since (it's been about two years) and she isn't bothered at all. As long as new kitty gets along with (or is at least tolerated by) your house kitties, I don't see a problem.
posted by radioamy at 8:56 PM on June 5, 2009

Best answer: As long as you accept that Meeko might have to live in the office on weekends, I don't think this would be that big a deal. I'd keep Meeko at home constantly until Rupert likes her (a week? two months?), then experiment with having her at the office in the day and home at night for a while, then gradually wean her into whole weeks at the office and only weekends at home. She's young enough that this will probably be fine, and getting to know and like her will probably make it less stressful on Rupert when she transitions to weekend cat- by then it'll be like, "oh, my little girlfriend is back!" instead of "who the hell is this interloper!" If after a few months they both still seem unhappy, maybe Meeko should be at the office fulltime.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:32 PM on June 5, 2009

Seconding pseudostrabismus. I think the main idea here is that each new situation (your new house, meeting Rupert, the office) will be stressful for Meeko, so you don't want to throw them all at her at once.

It's got a reasonable chance of working; just make sure to have contingency plans. There's really no way to know in advance whether Meeko and Rupert will be best friends, hate each other, or ignore each other. As long as you have full-time Office Cat as backup, you're fine.

Another tip (that maybe some will disagree with?): Cats are extremely bribeable. One time when my mom introduced a new cat to the household, the old cat was very unhappy at first, but a few shrimp did a lot to smooth things over. I've never had to resort to such lengths myself, but it could be useful.
posted by sesquipedalian at 12:42 PM on June 6, 2009

« Older Scoping experiences   |   How do I fix this unsightly tint job? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.