Fallen out of love with my cat
July 26, 2017 3:11 AM   Subscribe

Owned a cat for the last 8 years since she was a kitten. I take good care of her and she’s a good cat. And yet I'm considering giving her up. I could never stand to see her get hurt, but I have several friends who are thinking of adopting. Would it be wrong of me to ask if they want to adopt her?

Ok, I have a question everyone will hate.

I’ve owned a cat for the last 8 years, since she was a kitten. I'm in my 30s. I take good care of her and she’s a good cat. She doesn’t bite and is very affectionate. She loves people. I feed her high quality food, brush her, give her toys, play with her, and pay for the vet.

The thing is, I am just TIRED of owning a cat. I could never stand to see her get hurt, but I have several friends who are thinking of adopting. Would it be wrong of me to ask if they want to adopt her? I would never put her in a situation where she would be hurt, abandoned, or at risk of euthanasia - I’m just thinking of asking my cat sitter friends if they’d want to adopt her.

More details…. Since adopting her, I’ve moved to NYC. Two years ago I started living alone, and I don't have friends that are interested in being roommates anymore. My apartment is large for the city, but still small at under 400 feet. I feel like living alone doesn’t make her happy since she is so social. She’s a cat that loves to make friends at parties, and I just can’t give her as much attention as a two or three person household used to. Now I'm dating again and also spend one night a week at a new partner's house, so she sees even less of me. The new person spends an equal amount of time with me, but it's more inconvenient for them to stay over because of our commutes.

And on that point -- I recently got a new job that’s an hour subway from my current place. I could move closer, but my new apartment would be even smaller. If I didn’t have a cat, I could live in a studio which would be cheaper. (I need to have a door between me and the cat otherwise she wakes me up at night or sleeps on my pillow, which makes my throat hurt.)

To be clear, here are my issues with cat ownership:
- my place is so small it ALWAYS smells like cat or cat litter, which drives me crazy. I clean the litter box diligently and bleach scrub it every two weeks. My current place even has a closet I can keep the box in, which a new place likely wouldn’t have. I am tired of seven years of scrubbing urine and poop smells out of the box and get so discouraged thinking about doing it for possibly another decade. I've tried changing litters to find a better smell, but that makes my cat decide to pee in my bed. :'(
- I feed her quality wet cat food, which makes the place stink. Again, there’s nowhere to get away from the smell.
- Vomit every couple weeks, usually in spurts of a couple times in a row. I bought a new rug when I moved in and now it’s covered in stains. I've been to two vets, but they just say she has a sensitive stomach and be diligent about brushing. Cat won't change her food.
- Fur, fur everywhere. I brush and vacuum a couple times a week but it still gets all over the apartment. I recently spent a month traveling / in a place I couldn’t take her, and breathing feels gross in my own place by contrast.
- Nighttime struggles. If I close the bedroom door so she can’t wake me up in the night I feel guilty about depriving her of time with me. If I don’t, I get fur in my pillow and bed and woken up intermittently. She scratches the door sometimes too. Sometimes she sleeps on my pillow or bed in the day, so I have to close the door to the bedroom while I’m at work and keep her in in an even smaller space, even though I understand she just wants to be with me.

I guess basically as I’ve gotten older I’m tired of never feeling clean, I've moved to a place that feels too small / boring for a cat, and I want to move to a place that's even smaller. My cat is so lovable too. I don’t have extreme behavior problems or a new baby like other people do. I just feel like I've slowly moved to a place in my life that isn't ideal for a cat, and I just feel obligation in doing this for another decade of her life, even though I would do it because it's the right thing to do.

FYI please don’t diagnose me with depression or mental health problems - please assume I’m aware and that’s not an issue here. Also, I would never put her in a situation where she would be hurt, abandoned, or at risk of euthanasia - I’m just thinking of asking my cat sitter friends if they’d want to adopt her.
posted by anonymous to Pets & Animals (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you're looking for permission to feel this way - I think you already know that what you're considering is reasonable, and you've clearly considered how your current circumstances negatively affect your cat's happiness as well as your own. This is an OK thing to want, and it doesn't make you a bad person.
posted by spielzebub at 3:35 AM on July 26, 2017 [4 favorites]

You see an opportunity for your cat to be happier, and for you to be happier too. Start writing those e-mails.
posted by amtho at 3:49 AM on July 26, 2017 [35 favorites]

My sister passed on two cats to good new homes after several years, for very much the sort of reasons you mention. It worked for her and my impression is that it worked well for the cats, too.

Cats who are allowed to roam quite often take on a second set of 'owners' of their own accord: I don't think that kind of change bothers them the way it might possibly bother a dog.
posted by Segundus at 3:51 AM on July 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

You have the internet's permission to do this.
posted by corvine at 4:03 AM on July 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

It sounds like rehoming the cat would be best for both of you, and there's no shame in that. You should start contacting your cat sitter friends about adopting her.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 4:04 AM on July 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

I am a crazy cat lady, and I absolutely give you permission to do this. I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with rehoming a cat if you are able to find her a good home, which you are clearly committed to. Please don't feel bad about doing this. You'll both be happier, and you should not have to give up these things that matter to you for another 10 years or more when there are other options.
posted by tiger tiger at 4:51 AM on July 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

Rehome your cat. Make it a priority to rehome your cat.

From the description of your breathing issues you may be allergic to your cat -just a mild allergy to cat dander. But that will cause scarring in your bronchial tubes, which could give you permanent breathing problems. When she sleeps near you it makes your throat hurt? You probably need to give up your cat, in the interests of your long term health.

Your cat is young enough that this is a good time to do it.
posted by Jane the Brown at 4:51 AM on July 26, 2017

I bet you're feeling guilty because you feel like you're somehow betraying your cat.

I can't imagine giving a cat up, but--that's me. It's not really about the cat. My family has had to rehome cats, and I've had to leave cats with friends for a while, and they adjust. They form new bonds and are just as happy as before--or happier. Cats don't have human conceptions of loyalty.

The only reason to feel guilty is if you thought your decision would be bad for the cat. But it sounds like you're pretty firmly against making a decision like that and would only give her to a good home. So go ahead and ask your friends.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 5:00 AM on July 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Rehoming a cat with a friend would absolutely be my ideal situation if I could not keep them.

You can spin this positively: "I love my cat, but due to my longer commute and smaller apartment I've been having trouble giving her all the love/attention/exercise she deserves. I don't want to say goodbye to her and I made a commitment to give her the best possible life, so I'm hesitant to give her up. If possible I'd like to rehome her with a friend I trust so I know she's in a wonderful home."
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:42 AM on July 26, 2017 [14 favorites]

I love cats and I feel really sad for your cat. Talk to your friends who are thinking about getting cats, and tell them that you know your kitty isn't getting enough social time, you're gone too much, you know she needs more than you can give her especially with your schedule, and you want her to go to someone who will love her and appreciate what a great cat she is.

Sometimes the biggest act of love we can give them is moving them to a better home, and a home with a friend is absolutely ideal - you can visit, you can get updates, and you'll know she's safe and well cared for.
posted by bile and syntax at 5:47 AM on July 26, 2017 [6 favorites]

I have two friends that got their cats from friends or neighbors. In both cases the cats were dearly loved and cherished by the adopters and upon hearing the stories of the two adoptions, it never once occured to me that the original owners were anything but reasonable, generous, and kind.
posted by dreamphone at 6:12 AM on July 26, 2017

It sounds like you are mildly allergic to cats. And a mild allergy can turn into a pretty intense allergy with very little warning. There are plenty of people with a mild cat allergy who live with cats anyway but considering your close quarters and sensitivity to all cat associated smells I would suggest rehoming her even if you did have the time and desire to care for her how she deserves.

With a lovebug sociable party people cat like you describe, being stuck alone in a teeny NYC apartment is a great way to trigger behavioral problems. You mention she peed on the bed when you tried changing her litter, and that she vomits quite often due to a sensitive stomach, but those things can also happen because of stress and loneliness.

I think you are absolutely right that your lifestyle isn't compatible with her needs. That you aren't trying to wedge your cat into a way of life that is wrong for her speaks well of your self awareness and empathy.
posted by Mizu at 6:26 AM on July 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm a friend who would thinks adopting another friend's cat would be ideal--the cat comes with a known history, clean bill of health, and demonstrated affection for people. This looks like a potential win-win-win for you, the cat, and a friend looking for a cat.
posted by TwoStride at 6:42 AM on July 26, 2017 [6 favorites]

I think re-homing the cat sounds ideal especially if you have enthusiastic and interested cat people! Go forth and see if it can be done.
posted by amanda at 6:44 AM on July 26, 2017

People who expected to be together for the rest of their lives are allowed to divorce if their feelings changed.

The thrill is gone between you and kitty. Rehoming is synonymous with an amicable divorce.
posted by she's not there at 6:53 AM on July 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

As long as she has a good home, it doesn't have to be your home.
posted by shiny blue object at 6:55 AM on July 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

It's no sin to rehome a cat to a GOOD home. The reasons don't really matter, but yours seem sound in case you want reassurance.
posted by kapers at 7:03 AM on July 26, 2017

A friend of mine recently gave his cat to a friend of his because he was too busy at work and felt that his cat wasn't getting enough attention. This is totally fine. (I almost took the cat, but we already have two cats and I don't want to be outnumbered by the cats.)

On the other hand, we adopted our first cat from a shelter that she had been to before. Her original people had a people-baby and on the intake paperwork they told the shelter that their people-baby was "allergic" to our cat. We joke about how her first set of people were horrible people that abandoned her. It's not entirely a joke.

In short, I think rehoming with a friend is superior to a shelter, and you have friends who want cats. It's okay to rehome her, and you can still visit.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:11 AM on July 26, 2017

I have been on both ends of this. My ex and I had to rehome our 6-year-old cat because he was so clearly unhappy and needed a life we could not provide for him (he really needed to be a barn cat, and was miserable in our Chicago apartment). He is much happier now, and we are both hugely relieved to no longer be responsible for him and his tantrums.

On the other side, I recently adopted 12-year-old Sophie Cat from a shelter. She'd been surrendered by her previous owners because of allergies, which it sounds like you have. I am sad for her previous owners, because she is such a great cat, but I am pleased for myself, because now I have a great cat.

Anyway, for what it's worth, you totally have this internet stranger's permission to do what's right for you and your kitty.
posted by coppermoss at 7:39 AM on July 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

My late, great, forever-beloved cat Dante came into our lives in just such a fashion (original owner didn't want a cat anymore). He had SUCH a good life with us. This is entirely acceptable.
posted by julthumbscrew at 7:52 AM on July 26, 2017

My cat, Winston, used to belong to my boyfriend's mother. She had four cats, and moved from a three-story house to a mobile home in a retirement community. Four cats was too many for that small space (essentially a two-bedroom apartment). Winston is a lover not a fighter, and was getting relentlessly picked on by the other cats but wouldn't stick up for himself. In the three-story house, there was enough space for him to get away, and my bf's mom would put the other cats in the finished basement at night so Winston was allowed to roam. This wasn't possible in the new place, so when my elderly cat died, we took in Winston.

Winston is SO HAPPY now. Turns out, he loves being the center of attention and loves being an only cat. He is super vocal, meowing at us all the time, and insists on sitting on our laps, which he never did in his old living situations. Even living with a dog doesn't faze him, despite never having lived with one before. Seriously, I feel bad for my bf's mom because he is such a great cat, but I have no doubt that it was the right thing for everyone. You have my blessing to find a better living situation for your cat.
posted by misskaz at 9:11 AM on July 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

I too think this is all right, particularly since you're committed to finding her a good, loving home. This sounds like the right thing for you and for her.
posted by tomboko at 9:59 AM on July 26, 2017

All the messages about "pets are a lifetime commitment" etc etc are well-intentioned, and important in that they've helped combat abusive behaviors like dumping unwanted pets in dangerous places or contributing to shelter overpopulation, but they can ultimately be harmful if taken to logical extremes and guilting people into keeping pets in less-than-ideal situations when the pet may have access to situations that are better for animal and human alike.

There are so many advantages here: cat will probably be happier, your allergies will be alleviated (and that's important!), you won't feel so much guilt or anxiety about your own schedule, you'll gain flexibility, new people get an amazing cat, you get to rehome in a way that maybe you can visit. Good all around! The only con I see to this plan is that another cat may not be adopted that otherwise would have been by your kitty's new family. If you want to combat that, you could make a generous donation to or do some volunteer work for a shelter or rescue organization that helps cats to "displace" that impact.
posted by R a c h e l at 10:49 AM on July 26, 2017 [4 favorites]

I adopted a dog from someone who felt this way. I can't claim to understand, but I am very grateful. I love this dog.
posted by freezer cake at 10:49 AM on July 26, 2017

Another silver lining - your cat, as presented, seems to be really social. I know we like to think of them as our fur babies, but honestly they aren't and your cat has the capacity to love another human equally as much as the cat loves you. there's no real risk of loss for the cat if it ends up in a place full of love and attention. It's not the same as if we were to lose someone.
posted by FirstMateKate at 12:50 PM on July 26, 2017

Without wading into the moral aspects, it does seem to me that there are a few things you should think more seriously about and questions you should ask yourself before you do this. These need not be parade of horribles examples, but the truth is, once you've given your cat away, you can't control what happens to her and you can't protect her. For example, though you (of course) are planning to give your cat to a loving home, your own experience dictates such a home might not be "forever." How might you feel if two or five years down the line, you find the family you've given the cat to has given her away? Or, like you, is no longer giving the cat the care you hoped they would, because they, too, have "fallen out of love"? I'm not trying to suggest you must feel a particular way, but I would think hard about how you might feel if this cat you have taken care of for eight years ends up in a place you didn't and wouldn't have chosen for her, if she is put down for a medical issue you might have treated, if she is turned into an outside cat, if she is declawed, or if any number of things happens that you wouldn't have done, even if they don't exactly constitute "harm." There are things you can do to mitigate the risks of the most horrible outcomes (like, as you've planned, choosing what seems to be good home), but you once you give the cat away, you can no longer protect her, much less make choices for her, which after eight years may be harder than you think. As tired as you are, even watching her be loved differently than you would and did could be very painful.

Second, I would consider what happens after this. It sounds like you are really tired of having a pet right now, but I would honestly give some thought to whether you will ever want a pet again. Voluntarily rehoming a pet, even for very serious reasons, renders people "unadoptable" from many rescues and shelters, and doing so for the reasons you've outlined here, may make it really hard, if not impossible to adopt in the future. You may not care, or think it will never be an issue, but it's worth noting as you weigh your options.
posted by MeadowlarkMaude at 2:58 PM on July 26, 2017

Something to consider: when the org I volunteer for adopts out an animal, the adoptive parents sign a form that says, should they decide to surrender the animal they must bring them back to the org. You can do something similar to convey the importance to you that new adoptive humans don't get tired of your cat and surrender them to a shelter. When you're emailing these people to ask if they want to adopt your cat, tell them that part of the agreement is that they'll call you before they surrender/sell/abandon/transfer the cat. There's nothing binding there, but hopefully the message will stick and you'd still be interested in keeping this cat safe should a similar need arise in the future.

Consider making a note to self that you might want to avoid adopting an animal in the future should a desire to do so arise, should you want to avoid being in this situation again.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 3:19 PM on July 26, 2017

When I was a teen, my family rehomed our awesome cat because a family member developed bad allergies to the cat and no amount of bathing the cat (fun!) and medication could get us to a reasonable situation. The cat went to a family friend who LOVED the cat and still, some 25 years later, she thanks us for bringing him into her life. Finding a trusted friend to love your awesome cat will be the best thing for everyone. Reach out to your network - having allergies and not enough time for a social cat is a good reason to find the cat a better home. Good luck!
posted by quince at 4:27 PM on July 26, 2017

I recently adopted a lovely cat whose owner gave her up to the shelter because her child developed allergies, and I'm so so grateful she gave her up. You may be bringing a great deal of joy into someone else's life.
posted by redlines at 7:32 PM on July 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

I am writing this with my cat in my lap. I got her from a rescue network a few months ago. Her previous owners had given her up after 10 years because they couldn't meet her needs any more - a medical issue means that she now has to be an inside cat, and although they loved her that wasn't possible for them. I live in an apartment, so was looking for an older cat that was happy to be inside. It's been a perfect match, and everyone involved has ended up better off. It sounds like you are having trouble giving your cat what she needs - space, attention - so if you can find somewhere safe where she'll have those things, go for it.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 7:43 PM on July 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Same- we adopted a cat a year ago that was surrendered to the shelter because her owner thought she needed a bigger home to run around in, because the cat was super needy of attention, and because the owner was developing allergies. It's all true, but she fits into our lifestyle well and I couldn't be happier that her previous owner gave her up.

Don't sweat it- you're not a bad person for thinking of this, and if you can find a good home (or a good shelter that you think will find your cat a good home), go for it!
posted by Secretariat at 7:52 PM on July 26, 2017

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