Charlotta the Fourth
July 17, 2010 10:24 AM   Subscribe

Is it creepy to adopt a new cat because he reminds me of my old cat?

My cat died three weeks ago. I miss him a lot.

We're thinking of maybe getting another cat, and, coincidentally, the shelter has a cat right now that looks and behaves remarkably like my old cat. It is tugging at the old heart strings. I would love to adopt him.

However, I'm struck by the feeling that it would somehow be creepy of me, or unfair to the new cat, to do this.

Is this nonsensical? Or would it be weird?
posted by Ouisch to Pets & Animals (39 answers total)
Response by poster: (Obligatory photo of my beloved former cat.)
posted by Ouisch at 10:26 AM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would pick the cat that went straight through my eyes to my heart. Sounds like you've found him.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 10:28 AM on July 17, 2010 [9 favorites]

It is not nonsensical, just sentimental. However, it may not be a good idea. This is not your old cat this is a different cat that will be different than your old cat as it is not your old cat it is a new cat that is different.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:29 AM on July 17, 2010 [4 favorites]

The whole point of having a pet like this is to have a pet you love. I think it is in no way unfair to either cat. Go rescue that kitty.
posted by komara at 10:29 AM on July 17, 2010

Best answer: I'm so sorry about your cat.

I think this would be ok, as long as you're not going to be hurt or bothered by the differences between your cat and the new cat you adopt. As for unfair to the cat, I assume the cat will get a loving home and live a happy cat life. That's not unfair at all. Remember, the cat is not human and cannot understand that you adopted it after the death of your other cat or that you first loved him for his similarity to your old cat (and be assured, you will soon come love him for him).'

Ok, am I the only one reminded of how Harriet Olson adopted Nancy (similar in appearance and spoiled rottenness to Nellie) after Nellie moved to New York? Really? Well I didn't think I'd be the only one. Anyway, that worked out ok for them, too, even though Nancy really was human
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:32 AM on July 17, 2010

I don't think it's creepy or unfair as long as you're willing to love the new cat even if they turn out to be totally different in personality. Adopt the new cat if you want a new cat, if all you want is more of your old cat, you might want to wait a bit.
posted by scrute at 10:32 AM on July 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Dude, it's a cat. It's not like the n00b cat is going to be insulted that he's just a "replacement" for your old cat.

I think that if you want another cat, and you think you're ready, and you think this cat is a good cat to adopt, you should go for it.

Are you worried about what other people will think? As long as you don't name it Fluffy II, nobody is going to much care.

Chances are, you'll get this cat home and it'll have a whole different personality from your old cat, and in 6 months you won't even make the connection anymore.
posted by Sara C. at 10:34 AM on July 17, 2010 [17 favorites]

Whenever we stop by the adopt-a-cat area of the local pet store, we always pay extra attention to the ones that look like our former cats. Unfortunately, we aren't actually looking for a cat right now. If we were, there have been a couple that would have probably gotten homes just because of the striking resemblance to our former pets.

Creepy, I don't think so. Unfair, not really. I think if you love it as much as you loved your last cat, then there's nothing unfair about it. This is especially true when you consider the possible ramifications of leaving him in the shelter just because he resembles your old cat.
posted by Kimothy at 10:34 AM on July 17, 2010

Also, is that an obscure Anne of Avonlea reference in the title? Nice.
posted by Sara C. at 10:35 AM on July 17, 2010 [5 favorites]

If he acts a little different from your old cat, will you still scritch his head, give him food and throw toys his way?

Unless you gave him the same name as the old cat and ignore the differences, it's not like it'll be all "Frankencat."
posted by Gucky at 10:37 AM on July 17, 2010

Another vote for not creepy. It's only natural and kind of sensible to want a cat that's similar in character to your previous puss. You enjoyed having a cat of that temperament before so going with one that seems similar is likely a good choice. Having said that, it's not going to be exactly the same either - it'll be different in ways that you'll come to adore. I'd say go for it.
posted by ultrabuff at 10:46 AM on July 17, 2010

Go for it. It's okay to like a particular sort of cat or pet. In my family, it's Scottie dogs. We've had three since I was born. My mom has had seven in her lifetime. When I can get a dog of my own, it will be a Scottie. It's not creepy as long as you don't get upset with the new pet when it behaves differently than the old pet, which it will inevitably do at least some of the time.
posted by colfax at 10:51 AM on July 17, 2010

You care enough to ask this question. You'll be fine. Even if you adopt the new cat because he reminds you of your lovely former kitty (which I think is a non-issue, as the previous posters have said), if you asked the new cat whether he'd rather languish in the shelter or be adopted into a caring home... I think you can guess what he'd say.
posted by snowleopard at 10:54 AM on July 17, 2010

Everyone knows we don't pick out cats, they pick us. This one seems to have found a remarkably fool-proof method! Go get him before someone else makes a big mistake.
posted by tangram1 at 10:54 AM on July 17, 2010

As long as you don't name it Fluffy II, nobody is going to much care.

And even then, no one really cares. My family had a series of Scottish terriers over the course of more than one generation, all of which were named Tay (Tay II, for example, was my first dog). If the neighbors thought we were weirdos, they kept it to themselves.
posted by scody at 11:16 AM on July 17, 2010

It's completely understandable. I'd just worry about your heart.
posted by amtho at 11:19 AM on July 17, 2010

It's fine.

I've known people who have done the roman-numeral-suffix thing (Fido I, Fido II, Fido CXII), and even then I've thought of it more as something quirky than anything. It was obvious they remembered each animal individually, as I'm sure you will as the differences between New Cat and Old Cat become obvious.

Go for it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:24 AM on July 17, 2010

Best answer: What? Creepy? No.

(This opinion from a guy seriously considering having his cat, the Best Cat Ever, cloned.)
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:40 AM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Totally not weird at all.
posted by thatone at 12:12 PM on July 17, 2010

Not strange that the grieving over your old cat made you spot the new-cat-who-looks like old cat. The new cat needs a home, and you have one. You know how to deal with long-haired felines, and you obviously love cats. The new cat moves in because he pushed the current sore spot button, but don't you worry - he will soon be loved by you for being new cat even if he entered your home on old cats shadow.

Hey, in the end, you are saving a cat. This is the very definition of uncreepy. (In my book you even get to name him Old-Cat 2.0, Old Cat II or something equally silly to make a joke on your initial reason for spotting him. It's okay. Really it is.)
posted by dabitch at 12:32 PM on July 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

My cat of 18 years passed away. I found another at the same shelter (Baltimore ASPCA) that bore an amazing physical resemblance. Big mistake. Turned out the new one was just "not right". Fortunately she's happy in her new home.

Don't go by looks alone. Yeah, it's tempting but rarely does it ever work (cats, significant others, just about anything else in life). Take your time and visit a couple of local animal shelters. Find the right one, not just one right now.
posted by wkearney99 at 12:35 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Not at all strange. If we were talking about a person that you were thinking of dating because he/she reminded you of your late spouse, THAT would be creepy and unfair to the person. But we're talking about a cat. The new cat will not know that it reminds you of your former cat, and it won't care. All that will matter to the cat is that it's cared for and loved.'

In fact, my in-laws used to have the greatest cat in the world, a mellow, fluffy, orange critter who was just the sweetest little beast ever. When he passed away, my brother-in-law went online and specifically looked for a cat who looked like the one who had died, and went and got him, though he had to drive quite a ways to get him. And he does look almost exactly the same, and has a similar (though not quite as sweet) personality. And they couldn't be happier.

Go for it. Make the cat and yourself happy. It's a win-win.
posted by cerebus19 at 12:40 PM on July 17, 2010

not at all! I recently adopted 2 brown tabby types very similar to my beloved previous kitty. I've even called one of the new ones by the old one's name several times, which only makes me feel a little senile and silly, but never creepy. enjoy your new kitty! he will fill your life with sooooo much love (and chaos!)
posted by supermedusa at 12:55 PM on July 17, 2010

I think we're always drawn to animals that resemble past pets. I think most Shih Tzus are cute, but when I saw one in my mom's building who had the same haircut, build and face of my Alex, my heart just melted.

Personally, I think it's awesome that you're even ready to adopt so soon after your loss. Go for it! Just don't give him the same name, that would be creepy!
posted by radioamy at 12:56 PM on July 17, 2010

and the simpsons always name their cat Snowball. I think they had at least 4 during the run of the show...
posted by supermedusa at 12:59 PM on July 17, 2010

I don't think it's creepy at all. When my favoritest and bestest cat ever died unexpectedly earlier this year, I thought I wanted one just like him. I looked, I really did. (My husband vetoed the cloning idea, mainly because it was expensive and the clone would have had the same disease that killed the World's Best Cat.) So I took some time until I was sure I was ready to find a new kitty. It took a few months and I thought I wanted another boy cat, but all the boy cats at the shelter weren't the right fit. It turned out the right fit was a giant-eyed moppet of a female cat who has fit into our household just fine.

I guess what I am saying is: if you have found the right cat, you have found the right cat. If your heart says yes, go for it. But remember: nothing can replace your passed-away pal. Don't do something rash in the throes of strong grief. It can make you crazy.
posted by Kitteh at 1:15 PM on July 17, 2010

As long as you've established that a cat can only think what you think the cat thinks, its a win win situation. You seem like a loving and caring cat person: just do it.
posted by ouke at 1:39 PM on July 17, 2010

"a cat can only think what you think the cat thinks"

Um, no. A cat can only think what the cat thinks. You can only interpret that according to your own understanding, and most of it will probably be projective identification.

You know this cat isn't your previous cat, it's someone else. You respect the cat's subjectivity enough to actually worry about this. Get the cat before someone less respectful snaps him up.
posted by tel3path at 2:12 PM on July 17, 2010

I've done this too. You need to realize that there's a real chance you'll be disappointed when the new cat's personality just doesn't match, or has some undesirable qualities. New Cat will do annoying things Old Cat never did. New Cat may not be as friendly as Old Cat, or be more skittish, or whatever.. And every time you notice the difference, it'll be tugging at your heart strings, yet again. On the other hand, New Cat will have many awesome personality traits Old Cat did not possess, but they might not have the same effect on your psyche. New Cat is awesome, but she's just not Old Cat.

That being all said... if you can realize that this sort of thing can and will happen, but you're okay with dealing with it... go for it. Sometimes, certain animals just speak to us, and there's no sense fighting it. New Cat would be lucky to have you, regardless of why he appeals to you.
posted by cgg at 2:29 PM on July 17, 2010

No. What is creepy is naming every consecutive dog of the same breed "Heidi," over and over, to the tune of five Heidis. Not that anybody's friend's grandparents ever did such a thing.
posted by Beardman at 2:47 PM on July 17, 2010

Adding my voice to the chorus of not creepy at all. Go rescue that kitty!
posted by SisterHavana at 3:18 PM on July 17, 2010

My grandparents had five successive identical Shih Tzus named "Rocky."

It never occurred to me that it might have been creepy.
posted by cmoj at 4:12 PM on July 17, 2010

What is creepy is naming every consecutive dog of the same breed "Heidi," over and over, to the tune of five Heidis.

Huh. I don't even think this is creepy, either (see scody's comment above), unless you're talking specifically about the name "Heidi," in which case I still don't think it's that bad a name...

To the OP: Joining the chorus of "not creepy," so long as you understand that this new kitty will be different in temperament from your old kitty. I'm sorry for your loss.
posted by misozaki at 5:35 PM on July 17, 2010

Don't overthink this. As a child all my cats were Tigers. I think as long as you feed and play with your new cat everything will work out just fine.
posted by Wood at 7:48 PM on July 17, 2010

I think it's sweet and it would make you happy to have a kitty again, and the kitty will be happy to have a new family.
posted by contessa at 10:11 PM on July 17, 2010

When I was growing up my dad would sometimes mention his family's dog Jimmy. A few years ago I learned that my dad's family actually owned a series of dogs, each called Jimmy. (I am pretty sure he and his family liked all the dogs just fine.)
posted by chunking express at 10:51 AM on July 19, 2010

Someone wiser than I once observed that it doesn't really matter what you name a cat - it's not like it's gonna come when you call it.

To speak to the topic, get the cat but don't expect it to be the old cat or behave in exactly the same ways. That might be unfair to the animal, but if you get it with a reasonably open mind, it might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
posted by Muttoneer at 11:27 PM on July 21, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you guys, all.

I was really, really distraught about the loss of my big guy. Probably hard to tell from my question, but I cannot tell you how much it hurt to lose him.

So, we went and got our cat from the shelter. I thought of it not as getting a replacement, but as getting a similarly-coloured cat in Mokie's honour. He was such a wonderful guy that I now have positive associations with large, long-haired, grey-and-white cats, the same way someone might have with a certain dog breed.

The new cat is different in many ways, of course. He is more shy, younger, not as self-assured. But he is adorably floppy and cuddly, much like Mokie, which is exactly the sort of comfort I was craving. We have two other cats who are well-loved, but there was a hole in our little family.

I also like to think that, whenever we have the capacity, we'll give a home to an animal who needs one. Now we're back up to capacity, and it just feels right.

Anyway, here he is.
posted by Ouisch at 10:07 AM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yay! Many congratulations!
posted by houseofdanie at 10:15 PM on July 26, 2010

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