When I adopted my cat, Furball, I made a vow to look after him forever. I thought that anyone who gave up her cat was a horrible person and taking the easy way out. You simply don’t give away family members.
Now, however, looking back with the wisdom of 15 years of life experience, I realize that it was shortsighted of me to make this declaration and be so quick to judge. That’s because I’ve seriously considered giving away my cat twice. Here’s why.
When I adopted Furball, there was no way that I could predict that my future husband would be severely allergic to cats. I was already in a relationship and we adopted the cat together. Fast-forward a couple of years: The relationship ended, but I kept the cat.
I started dating again and it turned out that the one person that I hit it off with had a severe cat allergy. It was so bad that his throat would start to close up within 15 minutes of entering my apartment. We spent one of our first dates talking in the hallway because he couldn’t breathe in my apartment.
When things started to get serious, I started wondering what to do about Furball. My boyfriend was a good man and he never asked me to choose between him and the cat. Instead, he suffered terribly. He took allergy pills. We designated cat-free rooms and had air purifiers running 24/7.
I seriously had to consider whether to keep the cat or the boyfriend. What was best for everyone? Was it really good for the cat to be held at arm’s length by one member of the family or to be shut out of most rooms in the home? Was it fair to let my boyfriend suffer from horrible allergies? And what about me? What would make me happiest in the long run?
Fortunately, we had a happy resolution. You can read what happened in “Keep My Cat — Or My Boyfriend Who Has a Cat Allergy?“
When I was in my twenties, I couldn’t envision myself looking after children. At the age of 21, I declared that I would never have kids because it wasn’t eco-friendly. I held that view for quite some time. Therefore, I never thought that kids could ever affect my relationship with my cat.
However, as I grew as a person, my views softened and changed. The seed of my growth was planted when I adopted a tiny black kitten. As my ability to nurture others and myself grew, I knew I was ready to have a baby. Ironically, it was this decision that led to me to seriously consider giving away the cat.
Before you have human kids, you see the cat as your baby. You think that looking after a pet gives you an inkling of what it’s like to look after a real baby. Sure, a cat’s not a person, but a high-maintenance cat can require a lot of care and love.
After my son was born, I got the shock of my life. Looking after a cat is nothing like caring for a tiny human being whose entire existence depends on you. It was even more challenging because my baby woke up every two hours needing to be breastfed. As a result, I was a walking zombie, and I’m also super cranky when sleep-deprived.
Furball had a bad habit of waking us up early to be fed. Now that we were awake at all hours looking after the baby, Furball started waking us up at all hours of the night. This was a serious problem because I was deprived of precious minutes of sleep that I so desperately needed to stay sane. Also, the baby wasn’t getting enough sleep because the cat kept waking us up. When it came to choosing between my baby or cat, the baby came first.
That’s when I once again seriously considered giving Furball away. However, I knew if I surrendered him to an animal shelter, it wasn’t likely that he’d be adopted. He would probably be put down.
I remembered the vow I made that I would always look after him. There had to be a solution. Finally, a friend’s brother had the answer. His cat had the same behavioral issues when it came to food. He resolved it by disassociating himself from food by using a timed feeder.
Furball had been able to crack every feeder we tried in the past. I found the Rolls Royce of feeders, which was deemed to be cat-proof. It cost more than $500 — a hefty price when there were already so many expenses with a new baby. However, the choice was either buy the feeder or give away the cat. I bought the feeder. It worked.
Looking back over the past 15 years, I now realize how shortsighted and self-righteous it was for me to declare that I would never give my cat away and to judge anyone who would put his or her cat up for adoption.
When you’re just starting out, you have no idea where life will take you. You don’t know who you’ll meet, whether you’ll have kids or where you’ll live. It’s impossible to know every possible scenario.
All you can do is the best that you can. Honor your commitment and hope that you and your cat have a happy life together. So far so good!
Have you ever thought about giving away your cat? Share your story in the comments!
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About Holly Tse: Holly Tse is a green cat expert, author of Make Your Own Cat Toys, and the creator of Green Little Cat, a blog on eco-friendly living for cats and cat lovers. Practicing Taoist and Dragon Spirit Guide who has experienced more than nine past lives and can bend reality at will. Totally into alternative healing, but her Achilles’ heel is reality TV cooking shows. As a Canadian expat, she uses an American spell checker for her Catster articles.