Adopted a Cat - Afraid I Made a Mistake
July 10, 2016 10:56 AM   Subscribe

I went to the store to buy dog food yesterday, and ended up adopting a kitten. I have thought about adopting a cat for quite a long time, but have always talked myself out of it. Now I'm terrified that if we don't horrible mistake, and worry that I should give her back now she still little.

I have always liked cats, but my family has never had any. My main exposure is through volunteering in animal shelters and friends who have cats. Even though the kitten that I adopted is absolutely a sweetheart and seems smarter than my dog, I'm still afraid that I made a poor decision.

I am mildly allergic to cats, but not so much that I cannot live with one. I think I will be okay monetarily, but I do have a lot of debt, and if I somehow lost my job, I would be in a bad situation. I guess that could be said for most people though.

My main fear is that something what come up down the road where I couldn't keep her, and I would have ruined her chances for a good family. My dog was a senior when I adopted her and was having a hard time getting adopted, so I feel like I truly rescued her.

Also, I wonder if, because I am so nervous and worried, perhaps I didn't want this as much as I thought I did. Also, the people in my life who know I want to pay it off my debt will surely wonder why the heck I decided to do this. And I don't really have a good reason.

So, do you guys think this is normal " adopteers remorse", or should I consider giving her up while she is still highly adoptable?
posted by aka_anon to Pets & Animals (41 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It has been my personal experience as an anxious person that my cat's ability to calm me down, give me an (adorable) external focus, and keep me firmly in the present moment has far outweighed the meagre costs of his care and feeding.

Why don't you give it a week and see how you feel? A week is not too long for the kitten to age out of easy adopatibility.
posted by minervous at 11:11 AM on July 10, 2016 [32 favorites]

It seems like a normal response to me, especially where it was relatively "unplanned" - as in you didn't go to the store with the intent of adopting a kitty, even though it has been on your mind for awhile. I agree with minervous to give it a week.

And you did truly rescue a life! Maybe her story isn't as dramatic as your dog's but you still rescued her. :)

If you have your dog and things are fine, things will surely be fine with your new kitty. Cats are far more hearty and have much less vet bills, etc. as compared to senior dogs. I say give it some time for everyone to calm down and there see where everyone is at.
posted by floweredfish at 11:26 AM on July 10, 2016 [6 favorites]

In my opinion, this was something you always wanted to do, but have repeatedly talked yourself out of, and now that you have gone and pulled the trigger, you're still trying to talk yourself out of it. Keep the kitten! Your concern of not being able to re-home her in the future for vague reasons is extremely contrived. And paying down debt is not mutually exclusive with caring for a cat. You want this, and have wanted it for a long time! So relax and enjoy the little fuzzball.
posted by ejs at 11:34 AM on July 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

Like you, I grew up in a family without cats and adopted my first cat as an adult. I had exactly the same worries that you're describing, and seriously considered trying to rehome the cat within the first few weeks. But I stuck it out and she's still with me 13 years later. It's hard to imagine life without her. I think that with time, your fears will disappear naturally.
posted by neushoorn at 11:47 AM on July 10, 2016 [8 favorites]

As far as future adoptability goes, while it is harder to place senior animals, I don't know that it's significantly harder to place adult cats versus kittens. I'm one of the people that prefers adult cats, so I know what their actual personality/energy level is likely to be. So, you might have trouble re-homing her a decade from now, but not in the near future, I don't think you should give much weight to that worry. (Maybe you know the statistics better having volunteered at shelters, but look at how many of the 'should I get a kitten?' Ask-Me answers say to get an adult cat instead or get two kittens. And, since you're raising this kitten with a dog, I'm sure that an adult cat who is known to get along well with dogs would be just what someone else is looking for if you should have to re-home her later.)
posted by oh yeah! at 11:53 AM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I found a new home for my 16 year old cat when she was old, cranky, and sick, taking handfuls of pills twice per day. I had to because I was leaving the country and she was too sick to come along. It was a really good home too and she was loved until the inevitable end of her life. So while kittens are super cute and all, they're not the only cats that can find a new home when the chips are down.

I think the fact that you're worrying is actually kind of good. You care about her and care about her future. But instead of overthinking things that may or may not happen, try to just go with it and enjoy the time you have now. If things change you'll deal with it then (and we'll all help where needed). I think this is normal overthinking anxious persons overthinking rather than some kind of wake up call. The good thing about pets is they can take you out of that a bit. When it happens, remind yourself that you're not ruining her or her chances then decide not to think about it for now. And pat your new friend instead. And take an antihistamine then pat some more.
posted by shelleycat at 12:03 PM on July 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Is there some problem with your lease and the presence of two pets? Otherwise, check with your cat-positive friends about cat-proofing the house, litter boxes (and keeping the dog out of them), schedule feeding (and keeping the dog food and cat food separate) and otherwise welcoming your second roommate.
And this is also your dog's new friend, so there may be unexpected benefits for the dog. It's early, but do they have their own private spaces? There is a wealth of information on TV along the lines of, "My pet is driving me crazy! Call the expert!" The main themes seem to be territory disputes and boredom/excess energy.
In the past I've tried to acquire two pets at the same time so that they become friends early and figure out who is dominant right away. Introducing a new pet in an established territory can be stressful for both, so it sounds like you have lucked out.
posted by TrishaU at 12:07 PM on July 10, 2016

"Ruining" chances: I had to rehome my 11-year-old cat who I raised from being a kitten. It devastated me for a while, but the vet assured me that cats, although they do love us, can reattach, especially if they are being shown love and affection by their new owners. The reason I had to rehome my guy was that he got sick, and he needed a situation where he was no longer left alone for part of the day (while I went to work).

Taking care during unemployment: I took care of my guy even during a 19-month unemployment stint when I was significantly in debt. They are an expense, don't doubt that, but it can be managed. And if you were in quite dire situations, sometimes you can find pet agencies in local communities that are willing to help with food and litter.

This is a good sign: I'm actually kind of proud of you for your concerns, but urge you to try to get over them. Why am I proud? Because you are realizing that you are taking care of a living breathing being and are appropriately nervous about the lifetime span of it. A lot of people don't look at the situation with that much of a sense of responsibility. You do. It shows that you're going to be a good parent to this little kit. Congratulations on the new addition to your family. :)
posted by WCityMike at 12:14 PM on July 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

One thing you might do to alleviate your anxiety is to consider the worse case scenario: the cat gets sick and you either bankrupt yourself by paying the vet bills, or you have to give up the cat because you can't take on more debt. That's super scary! But you can plan for the worst by either seeing if pet insurance is worth the money or putting aside a little sum each month instead. It's can be a waste of money to pay $15 a month for pet insurance because cats really don't tend to have as expensive of care as dogs do, so you might be better off just saving that money for a small emergency fund. (Though insurance for cats is cheaper than for dogs for that reason so it's not always a waste of's just something you have to weigh.) I know money is tight, but just knowing that you're doing something is the point, even if you only have a few bucks a month to spare. It will alleviate your anxiety to be able to take action against the worst case scenario instead of feeling helpless.

Some basic health things you can do to make you feel more confident about keeping your kitten in good health (probably things you already know since you've been thinking about adopting a kitten, but...internet strangers love giving unsolicited advice about cats!) Making sure your cat drinks enough water is really important. Treating kidney stones is expensive and no fun. To encourage hydration, separate the water and food dishes as cats don't like to drink near a food source, and try a wider dish because some cats dislike getting their whiskers wet. If you can afford it, feeding wet food can help, though I've had several vets and none of them really thought this was important because my cat is happy to lap up ample water. The thing vets always stresses to me is dental care, which I'm sure you know about since you have a dog! It's awesome that you got a kitten because you can get them used to you either brushing their teeth once a week using dental sprays which are super easy once the cat gets over the indignity of getting something spritzed in their mouth.

And you probably know all this too, but keeping a cat indoors will greatly extend their lifespan and prevent vet bills from cat fights or other mishaps, so if you plan on doing that you've already taken concrete action against the great unknown of caring for a living being!

Good luckโ€”and there's no shame in not keeping the kitten in the end. You sound like a perfect cat owner though!
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 12:28 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

You deserve to have this kitten and all the joy she will bring. It's going to be ok.
posted by drlith at 12:29 PM on July 10, 2016 [6 favorites]

Oh, also: there is abundant evidence that having a pet makes us less anxious in the long run and that's no small thing. Most cats cost very little to keep happy and healthy, so you're actually doing a responsible thing โ€” you can quiet anyone questioning if this is financially sound by pointing out that for a low monthly cost, you paying for entertainment and therapy in one.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 12:32 PM on July 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Unless they are very sick, cats are not terribly expensive to keep. They can be rehomed when grown...I had a year -old kitty who was very unhappy with living with my roommate's cat, and I had to find her a new home. She thrived there.
posted by emjaybee at 12:49 PM on July 10, 2016

Response by poster: Thank you all so much for your insightful words. I feel like I can breathe again, hearing your responses. My anxiety is perhaps a bit more than average, but as minervous suggested, I tend to be an anxious person.

easily confused: Here are some pictures. She is gorgeous, no?

And I guess this means I should pick out a name. Any suggestions? I tend to like people names, but not common ones people are likely to choose for their children. Here are some that I have thought of, inspired by pop culture and/or trips across google-land:

posted by aka_anon at 12:56 PM on July 10, 2016 [13 favorites]

posted by Omnomnom at 1:01 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

She's incredibly adorable!

I'm inclined to Audrey, for Audrey Hepburn. She has the eyes and cheeks for it.
posted by yesster at 1:02 PM on July 10, 2016

What a sweet little kitten!

And you did truly rescue a life! Maybe her story isn't as dramatic as your dog's but you still rescued her. :)

Yes! Rescue organizations are overrun with kittens during the summer cat breeding season. You're giving her a good loving home and freeing up a slot for the rescue to help another kitten.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:29 PM on July 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

You are mildly allergic to cats. Exposure to this cat could trigger a major allergic reaction and, since it lives with you, even after you get rid of it, you will still be breathing in its fur and skin cells for some time. Also, continued exposure to something that you are allergic to can make you allergic to other things. It sort of amps up your body's sensitivity towards everything.

Not at all worth it.
posted by myselfasme at 1:33 PM on July 10, 2016

I'm allergic to cats and have two - being around them constantly built up my immunity and I now only have issues when they lick my face (worth it).

Your cat is ADORABLE, and looks like a Minerva (Minnie!) to me.
posted by Sweetums at 1:42 PM on July 10, 2016 [12 favorites]

Adorable indeed! (That white belly! the one tan foot!) And I like Clara, or even Clarabell.
posted by easily confused at 1:48 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm in the same boat as Sweetums - I had a pretty strong cat allergy but living with 2 seems to have dampened it rather than made it worse. I go crazy when my one cat licks my face but otherwise I'm fine.

Cats often find us when the time is right and others have pointed out that they can be re-homed later. Frankly, I'd take her if you lived near me - she's adorable!
posted by scrute at 1:59 PM on July 10, 2016 [5 favorites]

When I got my Ollie and Ted as 6 month old kittens, I had incredible fear and remorse on the drive home. I thought "oh my god, I chose too spontaneously. Am I really ready for this? What am I going to do with them when I travel? What if I become allergic to them like the other cats in my life? What if..."

Everything turned out fine. As far as my allergy concerns, I think because I got them as young kittens, my body learned to adapt to their dander when it was a smaller quantity and as they got older it just wasn't a problem. I hire a cat sitter to check on them when I travel. They get along fine and are safe in the house alone while I'm at work, and they bring me joy when I am around.

You're just having anxiety about the new responsibility. Honestly, cats aren't THAT much work after you get them acclimated to their new home. Start trimming her claws now so she's used to it, keep lots of scratching posts and corrugated cardboard scratching boxes around, make sure there's always a bowl of fresh water and put her on a strict feeding schedule, keep the litter box clean, and play with her. She'll be fine and so will you.
posted by joan_holloway at 2:06 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, she's such a cutie pie!

I really think you've got this. Fortunately cats aren't that hard to take care of properly; if you're already taking care of a dog, a cat is almost certain to be a lot less work, so I don't think you have a lot to worry about.
posted by mister pointy at 2:09 PM on July 10, 2016

I'm allergic to cats, according to the allergy testing I had as a teenager, but we always had them in the house/apartment from before I was born, and I got my own cats not too long after moving out. I got allergy shots for a time back in high school, but I'm sure I also built up a natural tolerance to my own pets, as my only severe "I cannot sleep in this place" reactions have been to dusty/moldy houses. I'm sure you'll be fine if it's just a mild allergy, and not like a food allergy that does get more dire with repeated exposures.
posted by oh yeah! at 2:11 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Every time I adopt a new animal (total is 5), I have had some kind of "what the heck did I do, I should take him/her back" thoughts. And, so far every time those thoughts pass, and now we have a very loveable herd of happy pets and humans. Enjoy your new feline friend :)
posted by Fig at 2:31 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I like Greta
posted by aniola at 2:44 PM on July 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

An orange cat suddenly decided to live with me once. I reluctantly let him stay the night. Woke up in the morning, he was under the covers next to me. He opened his eyes, meowed at me, and curled up in my arms.

I agonized over it. No way I could have a cat.

He was with me for 20 years.
posted by yesster at 2:45 PM on July 10, 2016 [36 favorites]

She's lovely!

I'm sure that there was a reason why you chose this time and this kitty to adopt. You must have known you were her human.

I love the name Cordelia. Definitely my first choice.

But if you're looking for other names, what about Leda?

Your kitty's face is just adorable -- I love the white accents near her eyes. And the mix of browns, black, and white in her fur. I've been following NASA's mission to Jupiter, and my news feed has been full of pictures of planets and moons with whirling multicolored surfaces. Kinda like her fur. ๐Ÿ˜Š Jupiter's moons are named after his numerous daughters and "friends". (Or of his Greek doppelganger, Zeus.)

Leda is one of these moons, and is also the name of the clone project which produces Sarah Manning and her sisters in Orphan Black. And, if you agree, your kitten. ๐Ÿˆ
posted by LeftMyHeartInSanFrancisco at 2:57 PM on July 10, 2016 [7 favorites]

We got our current cat when we weren't planning to, shortly after our other cat passed away. We thought we were going to "take a break" from having cats. We got him as a kitten, and he was INSANE. He seriously drove us nuts, to the point that we both were in tears, and convinced we had to take him back. We had some of the absolute hardest days of our lives agonizing over this decision, beating ourselves up for adopting a kitten without having thought it through enough (while we were still grieving our previous cat), and so on.

In the end, we decided to keep him. And I can say without a doubt that he is the best, most loving addition to our family that I can imagine. I seriously am on the verge of tears writing this right now, and thinking about how seriously we were discussing returning him to the rescue. We would have missed out on so much love and companionship.

I don't know what's "normal," but that's one experience...
posted by primethyme at 3:37 PM on July 10, 2016 [6 favorites]

She's beautiful! You picked out a bunch of good names, too.

I adopted a shelter cat with very little preparation when I was overworked and dealing with major health and work issues three years ago, immediately thought that I'd made the world's most awful mistake and wanted to return her For Her Own Good, and now I can't even imagine that alternate universe.

Also, my mom is allergic to cats and used to hate them, got desensitized from living with this one, and is now considering getting her own cat when I move.
posted by ariadne's threadspinner at 4:09 PM on July 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm so glad you wrote this. I adopted a 6 month old exactly a week ago (similar coloring to yours!) I have been experiencing anxiety, ambivalence, insomnia, doubt, just feeling overwhelmed at times, and I'm embarassed to admit it. I am paycheck to paycheck a lot of the time and my worries are similar to yours.

But I think I know deep down that I am worried because I care, and I think you do too. I mean, you volunteer at shelters and you care for a dog, so this is you taking it seriously, which you know to do because you know animals are living beings, which is great.

Not to sound trite, but my advice for myself when I start getting anxious about this is basically "one day at a time." Hope that helps you too. It's an adjustment for sure but soon I bet we won't be able to imagine our lives without them.

I assure you that if the worst happens, there are people out there who would love to adopt an older cat. As cute as kittens are, there are a million kittens and many people see them as a lot of work whereas a mellow grown up cat can ease right in. My sister just adopted a 9 year old from a shelter because he had a wonderful personality and I kind of envy her because he's so low maintenance.
posted by kapers at 5:09 PM on July 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm mildly allergic to my two and a half cats (the landlady's cat "visits") and as long as I keep my bedding (specifically the pillows) clean and fur-free, we're all just dandy. I had some ambivalence when I adopted my second cat but as I type she is nestled up against my side which is something she never would have done when I got her. Just knowing that since I've had her she's grown more comfortable and happy here makes me happy. And i adopted her as an older kitty who needed to have some dental work done. We're thrilled with each other. I'd keep your cat just to look at her pretty fur as often as possible. So gorgeous!
posted by rdnnyc at 5:48 PM on July 10, 2016

Circe, Elektra. Morgan, Merlin.
posted by vrakatar at 6:58 PM on July 10, 2016

Forgot to share photos. Here he is at about 16.

And another from the same summer or so.
posted by yesster at 7:00 PM on July 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Normal " adopteers remorse" which ends very well is definitely a thing. I was pretty anxious for the first few days of getting a cat 3 years ago and it's all worked out wonderfully and I love him (and his eccentricities) so much. A friend who adopted a dog didn't sleep for the first two nights after she adopted him worrying she'd made a mistake- he means everything to her now. Give it a little bit of time and best of luck.
posted by hotcoroner at 7:40 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh my goodness, she is perfect. Please name her Minerva.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:34 PM on July 10, 2016

Oh my Lord, you have a tortie, she is adorable!

Chiming in to say I know a number of people who are mildly allergic to cats but adjust to particular cats. My ex found out he was allergic when I got my first--but adjusted to her (and the subsequent two I got). He now even has two of his own.

I think the only thing you need be worried about is if she starts driving you crazy with antics. In which case you might want to consider getting a second kitten, as two kittens are easier to take care of than one. Then they focus on knocking each other over, rather than knocking things off your bookcases.
posted by schroedinger at 8:53 PM on July 10, 2016

You seem like a perfect cat owner and I definitely think you should keep your little cutie (whose name is Minerva, btw). If you do decide to rehome her, however, I wouldn't worry too much about your chances. Many people (including me) prefer older cats because kittens, while adorable, can be a real handful. Bottom line: you're going to be great!
posted by orrnyereg at 4:37 AM on July 11, 2016

My new Siamese kitten, Ezra (although he acts more like a KEVIN actually), has been giving us adopters-remorse, but only because he's an unstoppable riot-machine.

My remorse only steps it up when I'm very tired and I think "What have I done?" But I know that he WILL eventually calm down (stink eye) and will be perfect.

So hang in there! You've got a new BFF!
posted by Dressed to Kill at 5:52 AM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, she's lovely. She looks like a Cordelia to me. And I think pet insurance is always worth it, and getting a cat is always worth it, every cat I have owned has always been so good for my peace of mind. I suffer from terrible anxiety and depression and I don't know if I'd be able to live on my own without my cat. You should definitely keep her.
posted by HypotheticalWoman at 6:03 AM on July 11, 2016

I am more than mildly allergic to cats and I have two. According to my allergist, as long as you don't have major breathing (asthma) issues, having a cat is perfectly fine. The biggest thing is to avoid letting the kitten sleep in the bedroom. My personal advice would be to get ahead of things and start taking a daily antihistamine.

[Unsolicited tip: don't spend money on expensive cat toys. The two toys that my cats love the most and have never tired of - for years! - are the Cat Dancer and these plastic springs.]

That is one seriously adorable kitten. She looks like one of mine - torties are the best! Full of personality and just a bit wacky.

I vote for Minerva.
posted by 8dot3 at 6:03 AM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

She's beautiful and I think you did a great service giving her a home. I'm mildly allergic, too, and am fine having three kitties in my apartment. The only time I react is if I get a little scratch, or a cat hair in my eye/nose. Then it's a little itching or sneezing for awhile, but I'm fine in no time. It's well worth it to have their snuggles and affection and antics for entertainment. If you're really concerned, get some antihistamine eyedrops, nasal spray and/or skin cream, just to be on the safe side. Congratulations!
posted by jhope71 at 9:31 AM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

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