Cat Advice

(I’m making up for a lag in posting)

I know I have cat people on my friends list, so I’m looking for thoughts and advice….

Zoe is a 14-year-old only cat. For 12 years she lived with her best friend/brother Darby as well as other cats who have come and gone (some went with my ex when we divorced, some were sheltered for friends, some were fostered until we could find them a home). When Darby was around, we used to joke that he was my cat and she was his cat. She was affectionate, but didn’t often ask for attention. After he died she became a different cat — very affectionate, needy really. Now she’s forever meowing and in my lap.

So… Is it that now that the alpha cat is gone she’s happily transferred to ruling the roost and sucking up all the human attention? Or is she terribly lonely and using us as a substitute? I’m happy to get another cat, or not. I just don’t know what’s best.

Let me add a few wrinkles:
— Zoe is 14. I think her capacity for coping with big changes isn’t what it used to be. If we got a cat and she came down with some sort of illness (stress usually equals illness in cats) I would possibly expire from guilt.
— We fostered a cat briefly and Zoe was not at all happy about it. Now this cat was a real nut and I wouldn’t have agreed if I had known things like a) she was recently fixed (and she was about six years old). Letting a cat go that long without fixing it bakes in all kinds of behavioral problems b) she had never met another cat.
— Zoe has never had much interest in any cat except her brother Darby.

If I did get a cat, I would look for a passive, adult male. You know, some big happy fatty who wouldn’t be interested in challenging/chasing Zoe. I hope.

One more wrinkle:
We’re going on a 10-day vacation in two weeks. On one hand, that makes it a terrible time to get a new cat. On the other hand, it’s the perfect time as then she would have company while we’re gone. We were just gone for 3 1/2 days and when we got back she was obviously really unhappy to have been alone for that long. But would two weeks be enough to acclimate her to him? I feel I will probably dither on this until it’s far too late to do anything before we leave.

Our DC vet says don’t do it. That at 14 Zoe probably sleeps almost all the time we’re not around and it would be a real shock to her system to make her live with a strange cat. She’s very nervous by nature. For example, she licks a stripe of fur right off her back. We’ve never been able to get her to stop. It’s just a nervous behavior.

Our NY vet says do it. He says cats are social and adaptive and they tend to do better when there’s more than one around.

Any thoughts?

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5 responses to this post.

  1. My thought is of course the New York vet thinks your cat should have a roommate. He probably knows a cat who just got tossed out of his sublet and the vet’s taking commision to get him into a new flat.

    Reply

  2. Things are ok with just having one cat, right? She’s not complaining, right? Things are good for her right now – she gets all the attention. At 14, why burden her, or yourselves with getting another one. If you want two cats, wait til a post-Zoe period and get two at the same time. She’s old; old people don’t like much change – why should we think old cats are any different?

    Reply

  3. Hit the local animal shelter or no kill shelter. Choose a kitty, bring said kittty home. You will know before you leave for your trip whether or not this kitty will work out. Good shelters can even point you to the passive kitties.

    Reply

  4. and good shelters will generally let you return a cat that does not work out with your household.

    Reply

  5. It’s good advice. There’s a local shelter that has a good candidate on its website. I send them an email asking about him and outlining my concerns, and am waiting to hear back.
    I take Tsalino’s point. But take this morning for example… Zoe followed me all over the apartment and jumped into my lap whenever I sat down for 10 seconds. She followed me to the door when I left. So maybe she just loves me that much. But maybe she’s really lonely and in need of more companionship. It’s so frustrating that she can’t tell me!

    Reply

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