A tail of two … oh, never mind.
February 20, 2023 11:08 PM   Subscribe

My partner and I are moving to a new city at a six-month interval from one another. Given the circumstances described below, who should get the cats in the meantime?

He’s just arrived and is putting down stakes in our new house, while I’ll be drifting around in the old city finishing a long-term work project and saying my long goodbyes. I expect to be arriving around October and making regular visits between now and then.

I’ll be staying behind in the old city with a friend who already has two cats in a pretty small 1BR apartment. It would be, I think, a super-tight squeeze with four cats and two humans. My instinct, then, is to send the kids to live with my partner straight away, as they’ll otherwise have to go through all the stress of adapting (and maybe/maybe not making cat friends) before getting uprooted all over again. My friend is gamely willing to give it a shot, but they’d have to be confined to a small side room for weeks while they all adjust to one another’s presence, etc., and it just sounds like a terribly diminished life for them … albeit one where I would also be around.

On the other hand, I’ve been the primary cat daddy in pretty much every aspect of their lives: litter-cleaner, vet-runner, meds-dispenser, play/exercise-giver, and all-around Swiss army papa. My partner adores them, but it’s very obvious they don’t look to him for any of this stuff. But he would provide a stable forever home in which they’ll have more space than ever before, and no territorial disputes or other stressors … except, of course, the inexplicable absence of #1 Dad for a decent chunk of the immediate future.

I’ve already bought the kids’ flight out to the new house at the end of March, so this is a somewhat settled issue, but I suppose I’m looking for feedback on whether this seems like the best course of action. Cats abhor change, so I’ve tried to do the thing that minimizes the number of changes … but I worry for their emotional well-being (and mine, if I’m honest) during the long, long interval.

So: A chaotic and markedly reduced quality of life in the presence of #1 Dad, or a settled and comfortable but potentially lonely and confused spell with #2 Dad?
posted by mykescipark to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would send them to the new place. Choose a vet as soon as possible and look into cat boarding options (for emergency use only). You will all be okay for six months.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 11:15 PM on February 20 [10 favorites]

New place, 100%. Do not underestimate the difficulties of successfully socializing cats who are strangers to one another, even under the best of circumstances. It is overwhelmingly likely that being confined in strange cat territory will be far more stressful for them than getting fed by someone they know who doesn't usually feed them--cats can adjust to new human caregivers far more easily than to new cat neighbors.
posted by derrinyet at 11:22 PM on February 20 [11 favorites]

Send them immediately. They may poop in your shoes when you see them again, but that's just their way of saying they forgive you.
posted by Jacen at 11:28 PM on February 20 [4 favorites]

This is an excellent opportunity for your partner and these kitties to deepen their relationship.
posted by carmicha at 11:45 PM on February 20 [21 favorites]

Send them with partner. It would be legit bananas not to- introducing 2 new cats to 2 established cats in a small environment has absolute nightmare potential. He’ll grown on them.
posted by charmedimsure at 12:26 AM on February 21 [5 favorites]

Absolutely 100% send them ahead with your partner. They will miss you but they will be fine. Especially if you will be visiting regularly, to cat brains they will just think you are going on long patrols of this new territory. They will have each other and they will have your partner and this will not damage your bond with them. They will be very happy to have you back for good in October but they won't be counting days the way a human would. The separation time is likely to be much harder on you than it is on them, honestly. I would get your partner to help you skype with them, it'll help to see them and they'll probably respond to your voice, mine certainly do in similar circumstances.
posted by Rhedyn at 12:44 AM on February 21 [6 favorites]

Another vote for sending them on. I think you will all be miserable if you try to bring them into the situation you've described.
posted by BoscosMom at 3:09 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]

New place, absolutely. The other option sounds incredibly stressful for them, as well as for everyone else.
posted by Stacey at 4:15 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, all, for backing up my decision. Off they go!
posted by mykescipark at 5:11 AM on February 21 [5 favorites]

New place, and give your partner a chance to step up! It will be great for both them and the cats.
posted by nkknkk at 5:23 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]

Just came here to say, aww, those kitties are downright adorable!
posted by happy_cat at 6:35 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]

Yep new place 100%
posted by RajahKing at 7:01 AM on February 21

i agree with all the other comments. and also give your partner instructions to absolutely bombard you with pictures of those cuties so you are too sad in their absence.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 8:18 AM on February 21

Just looked at the photos and the correct answer is send them to me. They are adorbs. (No, definitely send them to the new place and good luck on the adventure!)
posted by jzb at 1:16 PM on February 21 [3 favorites]

I agree too! And you will miss them horribly so make your partner video-call you when they are eating or purring and send you a zillion photos. I was in the same situation as you except it was an 11-month gap between my partner's move and mine.
posted by spamandkimchi at 5:47 PM on February 21

One thing I heard was that cats care about their place while dogs care about their people. (Just a rule of thumb, not 100% truth) So for example, if you are going on vacation for a week, cats will appreciate being left home with visits from a cat sitter while dogs will generally prefer to come along on the trip and hang out with their humans. Giving the cats just one change of place, even with their second-favorite person sounds much less traumatic than having to do two changes (one of which involves extra cats and limited space).
posted by metahawk at 8:45 PM on February 21 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Giving the cats just one change of place, even with their second-favorite person sounds much less traumatic than having to do two changes (one of which involves extra cats and limited space).

This was absolutely my logic, although my boy cat gets depressed and anxious if I even go into the office for work on my random hybrid days.
posted by mykescipark at 6:05 AM on February 22

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