My cat died. How long should I wait before adopting another one ?
December 5, 2014 10:01 AM   Subscribe

My beloved little cat (complete with a twitter account) died in the early hours on monday. I live alone and *feel* really alone without a furry, purring, mice chasing feline in my life. Is there any rule of thumb on the right delay between burying a cat and adopting a new one ?
posted by Baud to Pets & Animals (36 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Nope, pretty much as soon as the very idea doesn't make you dissolve into tears, I think you're probably good to go. I'm so sorry you lost your little kitteh!
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:06 AM on December 5, 2014 [32 favorites]

I don't think there's a rule of thumb. I've found the time I needed to grieve to be different with different cats, at different times in my life. In my experience, you know when you're ready. And I can absolutely believe that if one is living alone without any other pets or people, that time might be very short. If your life would be better with a cat in it right now, go forth and find a cat whose life would be better with a people in it right now.

I'm really sorry for your loss, and I hope you find a new purring friend soon.
posted by Stacey at 10:07 AM on December 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

We lost a kitty on a Monday and adopted a new kitty that Thursday. It made life better. If you think you're ready, then you are. (You'll always miss and love your last kitty.)
posted by Ms Vegetable at 10:07 AM on December 5, 2014 [8 favorites]

Not at all! After our family's first cat died in the late 90s, my parents adopted two more the next day. Really, do it whenever you feel comfortable.
posted by thomas j wise at 10:11 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

There is a cat in a shelter that can either be adopted or euthanized today. That cat doesn't care about your grief or loss it just wants pets and to ruin your furniture. Go adopt that cat.
posted by munchingzombie at 10:17 AM on December 5, 2014 [127 favorites]

This is so, so personal. Only you are going to know what's right for you. I adopted a cat almost immediately after losing my last one, but a friend of mine still can't go through with it months after losing her buddy. There's definitely no right or wrong.
posted by something something at 10:18 AM on December 5, 2014

I'm sorry for your loss.

I don't think anyone can tell you what's right for you now. My wife and I felt completely unready to think about another cat after our previous cat died; it was almost 6 months before we started tallking about maybe being ready. I think that was right for us then.
posted by Zed at 10:19 AM on December 5, 2014

As long as you realize that the new cat isn't the same as the old one, and can't/wont replace the old one, but will be a new, unique cat for you to love in a different way... expecting new cat to be old kitty is unfair. Loving new cat for new cat is ok :)
posted by Jacen at 10:20 AM on December 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

I don't think there is any rule. I personally was way too much of a wreck after my older dog died to be a functional person, let alone handle adopting another one. But if you are ready, go for it!

I'd say go to the shelter or adoption event or look on Petfinder or whatever. See how it goes. Know you don't have to decide, you can just look.
posted by radioamy at 10:24 AM on December 5, 2014

If you are worried that it would indicate disrespect for your recently departed kitteh, don't worry. If you are ready for a new kitteh, it means that you had such a positive relationship with your last one that s/he prepared the way for the next one. Many people process the loss of an animal by showering love on a new one. (If you are not ready for one yet (I wasn't), that also does not disrespect your kitteh's memory. It's entirely up to you.)
posted by janey47 at 10:31 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

As soon as you feel ready. Just please don't do what my MIL did when her dog died suddenly, she adopted one within weeks that looked just like the one that passed, and is now mad and annoyed at the dog all the time for acting differently. Olddog never did that, Old dog didn't need as many walks, Olddog didn't like those toys etc.

As long as you are clear in your head that it's not a replacement for the cat that passed, but a new cat that will have it's own personality, you should be fine.
posted by wwax at 10:32 AM on December 5, 2014 [21 favorites]

Susan was the best cat. She was the softest cat. She was the prettiest cat.

The evening of the day she died, I was on the webpage of the local human society, looking for a new cat. We visited the next week, and found our new kittens, though we had to wait a bit for medical reasons before bringing them home.

I have no regrets. I love the new kittens (almost cats, now) for all their personality and unique qualities, and I still miss Susan.
posted by BrashTech at 10:39 AM on December 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

Stop all this typing and go save a kitty, maybe a black one since they get the short straw a lot of the time. Who knows maybe your other kitty is watching.
posted by Freedomboy at 10:41 AM on December 5, 2014 [15 favorites]

I'm really sorry for your loss; I know what it's like to suddenly have to come home to an empty home. It ain't right. Since there aren't any rules, go forth and find the cat who is waiting to choose you to be their helper monkey.
posted by rtha at 10:43 AM on December 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

So sorry for your loss. Immediately is okay if you're not looking for the same kitty. When I split with my ex and he took the cats, I was told to wait, that it was better for me, etc. I held out for three weeks. I could have had my new kitty in three days and been happier for those 2.5 weeks.

I suspect that when my little old lady goes (may it be a long while), I will be looking for a new kitty friend before my eyes are dry. (Possibly an older cat because I may be a little settled for tiny kitten energy!)
posted by immlass at 10:44 AM on December 5, 2014

You might want to take a little time to prepare yourself for a new, different cat--seeing him/her in all your previous cat's haunts around the house might be a little jarring, as will the fact that he/she will look different, behave differently, express affection for you differently. However long that is is entirely up to you. I felt off-kilter as soon as I returned home to a house without my Finnegan and wanted to adopt another cat immediately; my husband wasn't ready for another couple of months. It was painful. When Marlowe arrived, the pain of loss lessened considerably, although I will never stop missing Finnegan.

Finnegan was all white and half-marshmallow; I proposed we adopt his antithesis to discourage comparisons, so Marlowe is a long, lean, elegant, sleek black panther, the essence of cool (except when he is kneading in Dr. TM's lap).
posted by tully_monster at 10:48 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm so sorry for your loss, Baud.

Something to consider if you aren't sure whether or not you are ready for a new kitty is fostering. If where you are is like where I am, there are probably a few "cat rescue" type organizations that are in need of temporary homes for cats as they wait to find a forever home.

You could take in a kitty for a little while, and see how well you do with a kitty who is not Previous Kitty being in the house. Then that kitty can move on to a new home and you can decide what to do next -- win win.

You might end up having a "foster failure" (a "temporary" cat ends up being permanent because he or she is just right for you), and that's not such a bad thing either.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:49 AM on December 5, 2014 [14 favorites]

I'm sorry about your kitty. You have this cat-owning internet stranger's permission and encouragement to go find another one to heap love on. All I ask is that you post pictures so we can help you name him/her.
posted by Dashy at 10:55 AM on December 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

I work at an animal shelter. I've seen people come in and adopt a new pet the same day that they lost their previous one. Given the vast number of homeless animals that are awaiting adoption, I find this behavior to be admirable.
posted by alex1965 at 10:56 AM on December 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

The best advice I've read on the subject is, "You're ready for a new pet when you will not be disappointed with the new pet for not being the old pet."
posted by jaguar at 11:05 AM on December 5, 2014 [12 favorites]

I've come to think of it like this: There's a job in my household that is "pet." The job description includes stuff like "provide conversational fodder, entertainment, and support for family members as needed."

When our cat died last year, it became immediately obvious that the job was vacant for the first time in 20 years. So we interviewed shortly thereafter, and we hired two candidates. They do their job well. The fact that they do it in different ways from Blossom allows us to miss her for who she was, and to appreciate them for who they are.
posted by gnomeloaf at 11:26 AM on December 5, 2014 [33 favorites]

Seconding sparklemotion! If I could like that post a eleventy billion times I would. Fostering allows you to save a cat *today*, without feeling like you are in any way betraying the memory of your lost sweet kitty. There are so many adult cats who are very adoptable, but get passed by for the cute little kitten. My rescue has been boarding one guy for almost a year because he has to be an only cat, and our foster homes are completely full. (It's hard to find fosters who don't already have cats, which is what this guy needs.)

If you bond with the foster and can't give him/her up, then great. You've failed Fostering 101. A lot of people fail the course the first time they take it. (I have failed four times, but I've also successfully given up four times as many.) If that kitty is not the right one, then you've still saved a life, and can wait for the right one to come along.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 11:30 AM on December 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

It's very personal. When my most favorite pet ever died, I waited 9-10 months before adopting another pet. When I was ready it felt like "hey, I want a pet in my life" rather than "I am so sad and I want to replace that pet that I miss so much". I think the life of the new pet was all the better for it.
posted by vignettist at 11:37 AM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'll just join the chorus here. I have been a pet owner for a long time and have outlived so many beloved dogs and cats, though all have had a long life span for their species. I really hope to see them all again in some wonderful pet filled afterlife. I've learned that when they stop eating or seem to be in pain, it is time to say goodbye, even if I don't feel ready. That's one major gift a loving owner can give. And I've also learned to go to the pound or look online (e.g. at Petfinder) at the animals that need a home very soon thereafter. And then adapt the animal with whom I make a real emotional connection on meeting.

Each and every pet is different from each other and the ones that has come before. It is a gift to be able to meet and live with each. You are ready to meet your next unique companion.

Also, I am so sorry about your little cat.
posted by bearwife at 11:47 AM on December 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm so sorry about the loss of your little cat!

I know people who go out the very next day and adopt new animals, and I also know people who wait years (and one person who said, "Never again" and meant it), and I have never once thought, "This person did not love their pet/was not a good pet owner," based on how long they waited. You are the only one who will know when the time is right.
posted by amarynth at 12:28 PM on December 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

This isn't, like, a breakup and rebound relationship. You're going to want a cat, and you're not going to pick the wrong one. So, if you want one and think you can have one without it making you more depressed, go for it.
posted by J. Wilson at 1:03 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Like Gnomeloaf, when our cat Lucy (after whom I picked my MeFi name) died at the end of July, we discovered there was a cat-shaped hole in our lives that needed to be filled. It affected our son the most, as he had never known a life without her around.

We adopted Penelope at the end of August. (The only reason we waited that long was we went on a week-long vacation earlier in the month.)
posted by Lucinda at 1:04 PM on December 5, 2014

We had a cat move in with us about 5 years ago. he was pretty old then and his kidneys started having problems last year. This year he got so bad we had to put him to sleep. He was an affectionate cat and we had both grown to love him and as it went pretty fast at the end we were both really upset. People started asking us pretty quickly whether we would get another cat but we both felt too upset as we missed him and his little ways and didn't feel a new cat would fit the same way. After about 6 weeks enough people said it that I looked at the cat protection pages online. There were a couple of cats that looked cute so I mentioned it to my SO and she looked and there was one we both liked the look of. He was three legged and had been with foster parents for 5 months, and in the online video looked like he was fed up of being in a cage. We contacted the cat people and went to see him. He was a cutie so we said we would adopt him. He spent the first week running up and down the house as he was so unused to being able to run around at all, apparently cats usually only spend 6 weeks in foster homes but no one would look at him. He is a good looking animal with nice fur and a generally good temperament, he loves the garden and snuggling up with us. He is sat about 18" to my right on a blanket between my SO's legs, i just tickled him under the ear and he started purring. He is not the same as our old cat but has settled in pretty well and is affectionate. it did surprise us how quickly we took to him but we have got a lot of pleasure out of him being here already, and its a lot better lifestyle for him. I am very glad we didn't hold out because we missed our old cat. We do still miss Fatty sometimes but Simon is good to have around.

In practical terms we also liked taking on an adult cat, he is house trained, knows how to be gentle with his reproaches and can ask to go out and for food.
posted by biffa at 1:46 PM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Growing up, we always adopted a new dog after the passing of another dog. We just couldn't handle being without a dog in the house. It felt too empty. As an adult, I haven't lost either of my dogs, but I can't imagine going for more than a week without a dog in my house. It's personal for everyone, but I find I grieve in chunks of time, rather than all at once. Having a new dog there fills the emptiness, so that my mind isn't only on my loss.. I still miss all of my former dogs, but never regretted it when my family adopted a new dog quickly after losing one.
posted by parakeetdog at 1:48 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sorry, that hurts.

Getting in a hurry about something when you have been moved off your foundations is not the best strategy. I hope you will not hurry, but you do have to have a cat - a house without a cat is missing something, the way a house without running water is missing something.

I waited a month to find a new cat when my long-lived HC died, and I am glad I took some time. It would not have been good to be in a comparison space between two completely different cats. Electra is not HC, their merits differ in quite a few ways, yet I love them both.
posted by jet_silver at 3:38 PM on December 5, 2014

Aw, I'm so sorry for your loss. What a hard time of year to lose someone.

Like others have said, it's time to welcome a new fuzzy buddy into your life when it won't wound you deeply to think of your old fuzzy buddy. And like others have said, there are definitely cats out there that would love to become your new friend today. If you're ready now, go now. And if fostering a rescue cat is an option in your area, that's definitely something to consider -- an old friend of mine fosters pregnant kitties because he's experienced with cat births, and he gets the joy of having squeaky kittens around for a while until they get adopted out. That's pretty fun, always having a supply of fresh kittens around to squee at and such.

If you decide you need to wait for a bit, that's okay. And if you decide that you're ready now, that's okay too, and there's no need for you to feel guilty about it. Your old fuzzy buddy would understand and would want you to be happy.
posted by palomar at 4:09 PM on December 5, 2014

I'm so sorry about your cat. Our two elderly cats died this fall, within a month of each other, and it was terribly sad for us--I grieved hard. However, we still have our dog, which eases the "our pets are gone" feeling. If we did not still have our dog, I would not have waited very long before getting another pet. If it had happened when I lived alone, I would have gotten another cat right away.

I think if you feel like you want another cat in your life (and you feel OK that the new cat won't be exactly the same as your old one), then it's the right time to go out and get another feline. Best of luck with your search, and I hope your new kitty brings you as much joy as your beloved old friend did.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:49 PM on December 5, 2014

If you want one, you've waited long enough.

Some people try to dictate a time, but it really varies from person to person... and sometimes, from pet to pet.
posted by stormyteal at 8:31 PM on December 5, 2014

Our two old ladies died within 6 months of each other. 5 months after the 2nd one passed, we adopted 2 newer, much younger ones. It took a while for us to stop comparing them to the old cats, which we felt guilty about. We were also a bit exhausted by how much energy younger cats have, and had to newly cat-proof the house for things that the old ones didn't have the energy to pursue.
I don't know when the switch happened, and I feel it didn't take that long, relatively speaking, but the 2 current ones are now definitely the lord and lady of the manor.
posted by Neeuq Nus at 7:09 AM on December 6, 2014

My mom had the same issue. She wanted to wait at least a month, but after a week of crying nonstop and feeling depressed and alone I talked her into getting 2 new cats. I had to constantly remind her that no cat would ever replace the one she lost, because she felt so guilty for considering adopting so soon. But it was the best thing for her. So when you feel ready, that is the time to get another fur-friend. I am sorry for your loss, I know how difficult it is to lose a pet
posted by Fullofcrazy at 11:27 AM on December 6, 2014

As soon as you feel ready and find the right kitty, go for it. I thought it would take me a while to be ready to adopt another cat when my much-loved Smoke died a couple of years ago, but the house was so empty without her, and then I found a listing for a pair of kitty-siblings in need of a home, and the rest is very happy fur-covered history.
posted by sarcasticah at 11:56 AM on December 6, 2014

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