am i supposed to wear black for a year?
February 26, 2011 1:37 PM   Subscribe

How soon is too soon to adopt another kitty after the death of the first one?

I put my cat to sleep last Saturday after a long battle with cancer. She was 14 and very loved. I'd had her since I was 19 and we grew up together. She was just the best damn cat ever. I've cried my eyes out all week. And now am finding it comforting to look at pictures of kittens on petfinder or craigslist. After gazing at hundreds of furry little faces, I saw a pair of sister cats that tugged at my heartstrings. I could just...go meet them today! But then again, I don't even have the ashes yet from my lost cat. I know it's conventional wisdom to wait, to 'properly mourn' the last pet. But what does that even mean? I guess I'm just looking for opinions/stories/anecdotes about adopting a new pet after the death of a previous one, stories from people who waited a long time or didn't. How do I know when I'm ready? What are the risks of moving too quickly? Aren't human hearts spacious places with room for loving lots of kittehs?
posted by apostrophe to Pets & Animals (34 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Go forth and get kittens/cats when you are comfortable getting cats! There is no right answer except for the answer that your heart tells you.

When I was in this situation I went and got a cat the next day because I could not tolerate the cat silence in my home.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:41 PM on February 26, 2011 [8 favorites]

There's no right answer to this. It's whenever you feel comfortable doing so. Some people (like myself) would be able to go out the next day and get another cat and some people wouldn't feel ready for over a year. I'm just a crazy cat lady and like fluffy battle kitten, I wouldn't be able to tolerate cat silence in my house.

I think some people feel conflicted about getting a new pet too soon. That somehow they aren't properly mourning the dead pet and doing some injustice to the memory of their old pet. It doesn't really work that way in my opinion. The pet's gone and it's not like they're in some magical place looking down nodding their heads in agreement with a proper mourning process. I look at it in a way that I have an available loving home and there are thousands upon thousands of animals without a good home living in a cage. I'm not going to waste any time giving a new pet a new home.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 1:47 PM on February 26, 2011 [4 favorites]

Aren't human hearts spacious places with room for loving lots of kittehs?

Yes! I don't have experience losing beloved pets; the three we have now will be deeply mourned when they leave us one day. But if you see some faces you could give a good home too, and you feel ready to open your home, then you are ready. You don't disgrace your beloved cat's memory. You will never replace her. You are just starting a new cat relationship. Cats are so different; you will come to love new cats for completely differently.
posted by Kronur at 1:52 PM on February 26, 2011

Adopt some new little babies. I brought home two gorgeous girls the same day I put my beloved friend Walter to sleep (my vet ran a cat shelter/adoption network out of his clinic), and I have never regretted it. (Dr. Mel kind of good naturedly strong-armed me into it. He even got me to take two when I'd only ever intended to have one.) My thinking was, I know I will want another cat soon, and just because I was mourning, didn't mean that the shelter kitties deserved to live one more day in a cage.
posted by dmvs at 1:54 PM on February 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Waiting is entirely optional.... some of us do it just because we've been conditioned to, and I wish I hadn't waited. By adopting again, you are actually honoring the cat who has left you.

Goodness, go get that bonded pair of sisters! They wil ease your heartache and make you smile -- and they will be blessed to have a home together with you.
posted by vers at 1:55 PM on February 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Go get those little girls! I wasn't really a cat person when my then-fiance's cat died, but I sure was broken up when we had to put him down. We kept saying not until after the wedding, but about two months after we put Thumper down, she sent me a pic of a little tuxedo runt they had at the pound. We picked Jack up two days later. It was just the right time.
posted by notsnot at 1:59 PM on February 26, 2011

I'm not sure what I would be able to do, but if you go meet the girls and feel like you can love them wholly and fully, then there is nothing you can do to better honor your friend.

She was beautiful, and I'm sure she would want you to be happy, and would be happy to know that two new girls were taking care of you now.
posted by Medieval Maven at 2:01 PM on February 26, 2011

When I put down a cat a few years ago (my most beloved pet ever, to be precise), I probably would have gotten another pretty quickly—like in a week or two—were it not for various practical reasons. I would not have felt "ready" in less than a week or two. But what you say about wanting to "go meet them today" tells me that, for you, it may very well be time.
posted by AugieAugustus at 2:09 PM on February 26, 2011

Best answer: I could just...go meet them today!

Then by all means go meet them today. You don't have to adopt them, just go see them, and once you see them in person you can do whatever feels right.

Maybe getting a new pet "too soon" doesn't feel right to some people because it's pretty much the only kind of relationship you get that kind of control over. You can never get new parents or siblings if you lose them, and if you lose a child or a romantic partner at best it will take some time to acquire new ones. So when it's possible to get a new pet at will, it feels wrong. But I say the very fact that it's an "at will" situation is the very reason you should take advantage of it being one. How many times in life after a loss do you get to embrace a new like experience right away?

So go ahead and go visit those two little sisters, and if they seem to belong to you, make them yours.
posted by orange swan at 2:28 PM on February 26, 2011 [4 favorites]

If you feel ready, go now. In the same situation I've gone to the animal shelter the same day. It's different for everyone. Good luck.
posted by thatone at 2:28 PM on February 26, 2011

Best answer: If you are feeling like you want another cat, go get another cat. Really. It honestly is that simple.
posted by Decani at 2:29 PM on February 26, 2011

Don't let it make you feel like your "replacing" your cat. Like your disrespecting it or something. You are ending one chapter of your life any starting another one with a new kitty.

If getting a new cat will make you feel better, get it. Don't wait :)
posted by NotSoSiniSter at 2:29 PM on February 26, 2011

Best answer: This is like asking when it's okay to drink water. "When you're thirsty", seems like a good answer. Wanting more kittehs means that you need more kittehs. So, "right now" sounds puurrfect to me.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:30 PM on February 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

There isn't a right answer regarding a timeframe, but know that you honor those who came before when you welcome new animals into your heart and home. The (beautiful, beautiful) friend you just lost helped write the history of your life and the place where you live, and new kiddies are a tribute to that, as well as tons of awesome in their own way. If you're feeling it, go for it.
posted by mintcake! at 2:34 PM on February 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

There's no right or wrong way to grieve. If you think snuggling new kitties will help you, go snuggle new kitties.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:44 PM on February 26, 2011

Also, post pictures. You clearly have impeccable taste in cats.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:45 PM on February 26, 2011

Substitute the word "dog" for "cat" and I could have written this question! I've been kind of grappling with this too. I had to put my beloved Welsh Terrier down last Saturday - he was also 14. (Would have been 15 this coming Tuesday!) There's no question that we will get another Welshie - the only question is when. Initially we were thinking about the summer, but it may be longer and it may be shorter. I'm thinking that when the right dog comes along, the one who needs us as much as we need him or her, that's when it will be.

If those girls are tugging at your heartstrings, go meet them!
posted by SisterHavana at 2:59 PM on February 26, 2011

I have waited before, and my other pets have suffered for it - been really lonely and depressed. As have I. At one point I realized that finding both my pets and myself a new friend soon after an old one's death made us all feel a lot better, and that's perfectly fine.

It's okay even if you don't have other pets you're worried about, too.
posted by Addlepated at 3:26 PM on February 26, 2011

I waited less than 2 days after putting my last cat to sleep. I wasn't sure I was ready but a friend had 2 cats in need if a home. To be honest, the first few weeks felt odd, like I had tried to "move on" too soon. I worried I wouldn't bond with them because of the grieving. But a year later, I have no regrets. They have brought so much happiness into my life! I am glad I got them when I had the chance and did not pass them up.
posted by missanissa at 3:42 PM on February 26, 2011

When our 15 year old cat we thought of waiting a couple of months. But three weeks later we had a new kitten. Our 5 year old cat was much happier to have a new friend.

I recommend getting two kittys that can grow up together.
posted by JohntheContrarian at 4:15 PM on February 26, 2011

Several years ago, my very young cat (named after a well-known philosopher) died in surgery. Ten days later I took home the goofball currently sleeping on my couch.

I decided to name her after the philosopher's sister.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 4:15 PM on February 26, 2011

If you're ready, you're ready. Go forth and snuggle with kittens.

Condolences on the loss of your feline friend, but she's not expecting you to mourn her loss. She's up in cat heaven where the tuna flows from the fountains.
posted by sonika at 6:40 PM on February 26, 2011

Best answer: Do it. You don't need our permission nor your kittens permission.
posted by I love you more when I eat paint chips at 7:40 PM on February 26, 2011

I think the "wisdom" about waiting is really more regarding other people - like, don't try to push the issue if someone isn't ready. But if you are feeling ready, do it! What better way to honor your baby than to open your home to a new friend (or two) who needs a home?

Maybe you'd feel better if you got new toys, blankets, etc. for the new guy(s).
posted by radioamy at 7:41 PM on February 26, 2011

If your heart is open, no waiting is needed. I would feel worse letting the homeless kitties who could be in a loving home have to wait. Having had single cats and duo cats, I thoroughly endorse having two kittehs. Twice as much fun.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 7:52 PM on February 26, 2011

my cat died while i was at school. when i came home from swim practice, my parents had already bought me a new one. i was really sad, but we bonded quickly, and loved her a lot. in a way it helped to do it that way because then i didn't have to feel like i had replaced the old cat--it felt more like we had the opportunity to rescue another one.

i agree with the above advice, if you want a new cat now, don't put it off. go snuggle them for a while and see how it feels. if it doesn't feel right, come back in a day or two and try again.
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:49 PM on February 26, 2011

She was a beauty! Go meet the kitties, and if you fall in love with them, take them home and snuggle them. I second pictures.
posted by freshwater at 11:30 PM on February 26, 2011

I let Zach go back in August, and people always ask me if I'm getting another cat. I know I'm not ready -- it'll be a good while before I am.

But that's me, and that's also me knowing I'm not ready. You feel like you're ready, so there's nothing weird about starting to look. (If you get to the adoption center and suddenly feel this "wait but no" feeling in your gut, then that'll be what tells you.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:11 AM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I could just...go meet them today!

If you feel like the exclamation point reads, you should go see them today.

The right time is when you're ready to open your heart and your home to new little friends. There's absolutely no reason to feel weird about it.

Aren't human hearts spacious places with room for loving lots of kittehs?


I guess I'm just looking for opinions/stories/anecdotes about adopting a new pet after the death of a previous one

Don't think of it as a disservice to her memory. Provide a warm and loving home for a pair of kittens in her honor.
posted by BillBishop at 9:45 AM on February 27, 2011

I agree that you should get them as soon as you're ready but not a moment before. When we lost our most beloved-baby to feline leukemia my mother-in-law brought home a look-alike right away. We had trouble bonding to the new one, who was nothing like our baby in personality, for many years.
posted by Mertonian at 10:41 AM on February 27, 2011

Response by poster: Update: we met the sister kitties. They were so sweet, but it wasn't a love connection. It was actually kinda weird--the lady who was fostering them brought them over to our house to meet us & let the cats explore. She's more of a dog person who ended up fostering these babies a bit randomly. I think only a dog person would think it was a good idea to put cats in a car & drive them over to someone else's house! But anyway, it was really nice to have cats running around the house again. Kind of shocking to see how sleek & strong these young ones are, their coats all thick & luxurious, after watching my old cat waste away. Their foster mom obviously loves them, and said she wanted to adopt them herself. I think those cats are loved & already have a home, even if it's not all official yet.

Thanks to everyone for your answers. They are really all 'best answers,' but I'm marking those that made me think about things in a new way. And...I'm now officially on the lookout for kittens. If you hear of any in the Bay Area that need a home, please let me know.
posted by apostrophe at 5:26 PM on February 27, 2011

Response by poster: Oh, and also: my thoughts are with those who also lost pets recently. SisterHavana & EmpressCallipygos, my condolences. It's so, so hard. But good to know we're not alone.
posted by apostrophe at 6:11 PM on February 27, 2011

If you hear of any in the Bay Area that need a home, please let me know.

If you visit your local animal shelter or SPCA, you will find hundreds in need of homes.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:11 PM on February 27, 2011

(Had to run away from the computer before I could post this, and I see you've updated, but I'll go ahead and put this out anyway.)

Our two cats died unexpectedly about a week apart from each other. The night of the second cat's death, I chose another pair of cats who'd been in the system for two years, and was allowed to pick them up the next morning.

I grieved pretty heavily over the loss of the previous cats, and having these two around was a great comfort. In turn, they were finally taken into a permanent, loving home, something they'd been waiting on for too long.

These cats were never seen as replacements, so disappointment never happened. Bonding happened on its own schedule - the one pretty much chose me, but the other took his time. Their personalities are nothing like the other cats'.

Mourning doesn't take a prescribed course. It doesn't last for a specified time, it doesn't cause uniform feelings and behavior, and it doesn't stop when you get another companion. There is no need for it to happen in a vacuum if you prefer to hug a warm, furry friend while you cry.
posted by moira at 6:25 PM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

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