Adopting an elderly cat
February 14, 2015 1:08 PM   Subscribe

We are considering adopting an elderly cat who has stage 3 kidney failure. We have two cats. Are we crazy? Is this just asking for trouble?

We are considering adopting an elderly cat who has stage 3 kidney failure. We have two cats. Are we crazy? Is this just asking for trouble? The vet estimates he has up to a year of quality life left. We are fine with the vet expenses, the special food and what not. The shelter will let us foster to adopt, so that if they cats really don't get along we can bring the new cat back. Obviously we don't want to do this but it seems like a good idea to have the option.

We want to do what is best for this elderly cat. Our worries are that we are asking for trouble. For example, endless litter box issues. A big worry we have is spraying. One of our cats does the "shaky tail" thing pretty regularly, which we read as happiness (we're getting food ready, for example). It's the same action as spraying but our cat has never sprayed. We're concerned that the introduction of the new cat might trigger actual spraying. We don't see bullying or territoriality between our two, but they've been together since they were kittens--the introduction took a week and went well, and we're planning the same procedure at a time when one of us will be home from work for two weeks.

I have talked to the shelter, the cat is not BFF's with any of the 7 other cats there but does not instigate any trouble. He's quiet and basically keeps to himself.

My previous cat had the same end of life with kidney failure at 18, so we're familiar with the general issues.

Again, we want what is best for this senior cat... if that means we are not his end of lie home, we are good with that. Anything we're not considering? We appreciate any advice and/or anecdotes.

Obligatory cat photos. Bergamot and Maggie. New Cat.
posted by sadtomato to Pets & Animals (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think it's a very noble thing to do, and since you have a vet you trust and are already cat people, you should do it.
posted by zadcat at 1:18 PM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think it's a lovely thing to do. So nice that new cat will have a loving home to live out his last year. Since you've already had experience with kidney failure you know how to handle things. I think you should give that beauty a home.

Make sure you add another litter box to the home, and introduce the new cat the way the shelter recommends.

One thing: in the posting you linked to, it said he had a mate that they wanted to keep him together with. Was she already adopted?
posted by clone boulevard at 1:19 PM on February 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

I say give it a try. Your two may like a senior cat hanging around. Senior cat may enjoy watching the young ones at play. You have options if it doesn't work out.

Our kitties shake their tails in happiness as well. Nobody sprays, and we've had guest dogs and cats here.

All the kitties are quite beautiful.

What a nice valentine's day gift to the world.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:20 PM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Look into calcitriol with your vet, or with a vet who is familiar with its use on cats (as far as I know, it is still considered experimental in cats, not all vets are familiar with the feline usage, but my CRF cat is coming up on three years post-diagnosis and does not even know he's sick). Try Dr. Elsey's Scent Attract if there are any litterbox issues. Hi-Tor Neo is a kidney-disease friendly food that is non-prescription and has a better profile than many of the kidney disease prescription foods.

And thank you from my heart for your consideration and kindness. I hope this works out and that it brings you joy and peace in return.
posted by vers at 1:48 PM on February 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: The mate is not adopted but we can not take her. She's not a good fit for us and four cats is not on the table for us.
posted by sadtomato at 1:58 PM on February 14, 2015

Go for it. If you can give the cat another year in a loving home, it would mean so much to the cat and you will also feel good about it. You are also familiar with CRF and are prepared, not many people are. Do a slow slow introduction, that usually works out and New Cat has lived with other cats and this helps a lot. I don't think you should worry about spraying, you cat is just doing the happy happy thing with his tail. Not sure why you are worried about LB issues if there is no history about LB issues. A senior cat with kidney problems will not attract many adopters and absolutely go for the foster to adopt. I also thank you for even considering this.
posted by Ferrari328 at 2:22 PM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

The world needs more people like you. What a lovely family of kitties. I can't suggest much other than to repeat the advice to add another litterbox. I hope everything works out well and your new family member has a happy, contented life at your home.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 3:26 PM on February 14, 2015

Best answer: First off, you guys are wonderful. It's awesome that you're thinking of doing this.

However, the kitty you're considering has a mate. He's bonded. That may mean that if you bring him home without her, he's going to be in distress for a long time which will aggravate his health conditions. I don't think you're the right fit if you can't adopt them both (which is okay! I totally understand). The adoption center might disagree, obviously.
posted by Hermione Granger at 3:31 PM on February 14, 2015 [10 favorites]

Response by poster: It's a good point, about the mate. I did not ask specifically about the other cat when I called the shelter. Mostly because the website says this: "Yukon came in with his mate, Clarice, and we'd love to keep them together if possible, but it's not required!" Also, the woman I talked to never brought up keeping the two together.

I think we will go do a visit and meet Yukon and we will ask about the situation with the other cat then.
posted by sadtomato at 4:00 PM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

Maybe you could volunteer to help with expenses and advice if another person adopted Yukon?

Also -- thank you for considering this. It makes the world seem a bit nicer.
posted by amtho at 6:24 PM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

My main concern would have been with potential expense, but it sounds like you and the vet are realistic and onboard with the coming costs, so that's not so much an issue. It's lovely what you're doing.

The mate seems important. Since this cat doesn't have a lot of years ahead, maybe you could consider it? It would be a shame to break a late-in-life bond and these relationships are not meaningless. It's likely the shelter calculus is "it's hard to get one senior cat adopted, let alone two - let's separate them," but that is probably not how the cats themselves would feel about it.

A lot of times, litterbox issues can be solved easily by just having multiple litterboxes. Even just going from 1 to 2 boxes, in separate spaces, can remove competitive constraints for the cats and allow everyone an easier adjustment.
posted by Miko at 8:27 PM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

You are very good people, do give this lovely cat a home for his last year. It cheers me up to read that you are willing to do this.
posted by mermayd at 4:55 AM on February 15, 2015

I would really think seriously about how his quality of life and that of his mate would suffer if they were separated. I agree that the shelter may just be thinking it's so hard to get them both adopted, but if they are strongly bonded, separating them could be traumatizing. (Unfortunately, the shelter doesn't seem to have given you a lot of information to go on regarding that since as Miko says, they may be thinking it's hard enough to adopt out one senior cat.) Just something to keep in mind, though!
posted by tiger tiger at 5:32 AM on February 15, 2015

Response by poster: So just an update. I called the shelter again today and asked about the cat Yukon came in with (Clarisse) and how bonded they are. It turns out they are not bonded, they put up with each other and are familiar with each other. But they are both cats that keep to themselves, they don't snuggle together, they don't share a cage, they don't groom each other. I guess my mistake was calling them mates-- I meant mate as in friend, not as bonded cats. The SPCA is very good about indicating when animals must be adopted together and I trust their expertise. So, if Yukon is still there in 3 weeks, when spring break starts, we are going to bring him home and do the very slow intro while I'm able to be home all day.
posted by sadtomato at 12:46 PM on February 15, 2015 [5 favorites]

This is great! A wonderful thing to do. Glad the "mate" problem was solved.
posted by DMelanogaster at 2:20 PM on February 15, 2015

Woo! That's fantastic. I hope both Yukon and Clarisse find homes with you and someone else soon. :)
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:49 PM on February 15, 2015

Yeah - they wouldn't be cool with you adopting one of a strongly bonded set. What I'm hearing is that you've got two cats that are used to having other cats around and won't be threatened by the arrival of an old cat, and an old cat that is used to having other cats around and probably won't be much bothered by your residents.
posted by wotsac at 6:46 PM on February 15, 2015

I should add that almost every time I've added a cat, there has been a day or two in the first week where I've sincerely questioned the wisdom of adding another cat, and feel like I've probably ruined everything - perhaps because I'm just one guy and I have had (for one reason or another) to play a little fast and loose with slow introductions. The feeling passes, though this is a great time to supplement everybody with lysine treats, as the stress has a way of provoking a feline herpes flare up (no worse really than a solo cat intro).

And if you have a bit of luck, the only thing cuter than two cats cuddling is three cats cuddling.
posted by wotsac at 7:54 PM on February 15, 2015

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