Moving away from my cat - Will she be alright?

catdilemmaApril 25, 2008

I'll explain the situation quickly and I hope anyone with advice or, especially, experience in similar situations, will reply.

I have been living at home with my parents while going to university and have just recently finished my degree. All the best jobs are quite a distance (three days drive, or a few provinces over, here in Canada). My cat is very attached to me. She'll sleep beside me every night and always loves to be around me. My parents are great with her also (petting, playing, brushing, etc), but she seems more attached to me than them.

So, if I move away, will she be alright, or will the sudden loss of her best friend (me for the ages since she's twelve years old) stress her out too much? If I moved close by I could visit her and, hopefully, slowly get her used to my absence (being replaced by more attention from my parents). But if I move far away (it's about 2700 kilometers), I won't realistically be able to visit except for a flight once in a while. This means that her separation from me would be immediate and absolute (being a couple months for sure at first).

So she'll have friends she's used to, just not her favourite one, the one she sleeps beside all the time and who gives her the most attention. I know cats don't like change, especially older cats like mine. And there it is. Does anyone have advice? Has anyone been in a similar situation where they had to leave their cat with other familiar family members or, perhaps, have some parents on this forum had their child leave for a job or school (a complete absence is what I'm talking about) and have the cat stay home?

This is worrying me quite a bit and I can't take a job far away if it would hurt my cat (not eating, etc), which is making the job hunt hard. I don't mind getting a job nearby, it's just that the ones farther away are much higher paying. So if I can find out how things will turn out with my cat, I can make a good decision that will be best for her.

Thanks in advance for the answers, it's all very important to me and I can't make a permanent decision with all this uncertainty.

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What would an animal in the wild do if it's mate died suddenly?

Anuimals get over losses better than people, unless people interfere and prolong the short adjustment process.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 10:49PM
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The cats I've ever had were very adaptable. When my mother died her cat increased its bond to my father. The cat adjusted well. At one point I sent my elderly cat to live with DH (before he was DH) because I was never home and DH was home more. The cat did see me weekends, but he adjusted to the new home and to DH.

Maybe before you move you can have one of your parents take over some of the jobs you perform, like feeding and brushing, so the cat gets used to additional attention from that person?

Have you considered sending for the cat after you move? One of my cats lived with my parents for about a month until I got settled into a new place, and then I brought him to live with me.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 11:22PM
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Cats are powerfully attached or bonded to *place*, so she'd probably be happier in her familiar home, especially if your parents are at home a lot;
you'll likely be very busy in your new job, not at home very much, & nobody else there for her when you're gone.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 11:28PM
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That has to be a really.. tough decision! Would not want to be in that situation (although I know I would choose to stay close to my cat.. and my family!). Sue is giving you wonderful suggestions. However, I agree with Sylvia, cats don't move well, especially if they may have to spend most of their time on their own in the new place. We moved almost 2 years ago. My indoor cat adjusted pretty well, but not my other 2 indoor/outdoor males--they did not make it, but of course, I am seriously questioning our new (now ex-) vet..

Hopefully you will be able to find a good job not too far from home. Don't give up yet!
Good luck, Anne-Marie

    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 7:09AM
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I think your cat will do fine with the changes you are talking about. As another person mentioned, a cat is very bonded to its house. Because she has your parents, and has always had them, she will do fine. She will miss you, but will get over the close bond you are talking about. And she will bond stronger to one of your parents. I'm new to the Pet forum, so don't know what people advise, but I believe that by making sure your pet will always have a good home, you have fulfilled your obligation to her.

You should not curtail your future growth for an animal who will do very well in the situation you describe.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 7:20AM
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Am I missing something here? Is there a reason you cannot take the cat with you? Surely you can find an apartment near your new job that will let you have one cat. I have always had cats and never had trouble finding an apartment. I explained to my landlord that they were neutered, litter trained and faithfully used their scratching posts instead of the woodwork, and it was always fine. Should the cat cause any damage to the apartment it will be taken care of with the security department. I moved around quite a lot and my cats always adjusted just fine to their new digs - they are highly adaptable.

With that said, how your cat responds to you leaving it behind depends on it's personality. I had one cat that bonded so strongly to me versus everyone else in the house (we are all cat lovers), and whenever I went on vacation he stopped eating. That behavioral quirk eventually cost him his life, when after a prolonged unavoidable separation of about 2 weeks he developed hepatic lipidosis from not eating and died from it.

My first suggestion though, is to find an apartment that will let you take your feline friend with you.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 2:18PM
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Sylvia gave you good advice. Of course, it would be great if you got established in a permanent home and could move Puss...with minimal trauma... in with you. But you and your cat are lucky that she has a loving home and two caring people like your parents so that she can stay in her territory.

I had a similar situation to yours when I graduated. Upon leaving college, I moved to NYC to look for work and had to stay with elderly relatives until I found a place to live (this is over 30 years ago, but finding a pet friendly, affordabe apt in NY was no easier then than now). I hated to think of life without my dear Ms. Kitty (who I had raised from kittenhood and had been with me since sophomore year), but my parents in Md agreed to take good care of her...permanently if necessary. It broke my heart, but there was simply no choice at the time.

Forntunately, I found an apartment where my roomate (a cat person herself) didn't mind having another cat move in, so after 6 months, Ms. K moved to the city with me and even developed a good relationship with my roomie's cat. But she had gotten on very well for the months she lived with my parents.

Your concern that she goes off her feed in your absence is not unreasonable. To avoid this remote possibility, let your parents start to feed you cat a few weeks before you leave.
I hope your situation works out...either way, good luck in your career.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 4:12PM
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I agree with naturegirl, and I also have always rented and have always been able to find places where I could have my pets. I moved often and my cat was fine with it, she would hide under a bed for a few hours and then come out and explore and within 24 hours it was business as usual.

This cat is yours, and you owe it to her to take care of her until the end of her life. Yes, she will adapt, as most animals do, but we really have no way of knowing what it really will do to her to be separated from the one person she is really bonded to. The only reason to leave an animal behind or find another home for it is if you are either dead or too sick to care for it, or if you had a baby and it turned out to be highly allergic. Other than that, it is unfair to do something like this. Our pets form strong bonds just like people do and suffer when those bonds are broken.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 9:17PM
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You have gotten some great advice - cats are bonded to their home much more than the people who are there. Your parents will keep the continuity in lifestyle the cat is accustomed to and it will hardly notice your absence. You are the one who is going to go through a much harder adjustment - but leave the cat at home, it will be better off there.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 9:19PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I think your cat will be happier with your parents. You will be working and doing all kinds of stuff that won't give you much time with her as you start a new episode of your life.
I know you know this but I do disagree with the posts about trying to take the cat with you.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 10:02PM
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Catdilemma -- I just wanted to say that I am touched by your love and concern for your cat.

I wish everyone cared as much about the welfare of their pets as you do.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 11:35PM
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Cats are more bonded to their homes than the people in them??? That is ridiculous. Yes, they get used to their homes, but they also adjust quickly to new surroundings, and even seem to relish in the excitement of a new place.
Cats form very affectionate bonds with their owners, some showing it more than others. I work with a rescue and have done shelter volunteer work for years, and animals INCLUDING CATS definitely become depressed and despondent when separated from their owners, for whatever reason. And they typically stay this way, even for a while after being adopted. Now not every cat is not the same as far as personality is concerned, some are more stoic than others, or more sensitive, but to say they don't mind being left behind really discredits them as pets. Just because they are not as demostrative as dogs does not mean they don't feel anything.

The way you guys see it, maybe everyone who has to move to a new home should just leave their cat behind for the people that buy their house to continue to care for. What the heck, the cat won't care, right? Why bother to have a cat at all, actually, if they are no more important in our lives than a piece of furniture that we can leave behind when we move?

I think that the poster on some level knows this, and feels bad about it, or she would not even be asking. Unless it is a complete hardship to keep the cat, she should do everything she can to do so. To her, I say it won't matter if you are working, cats don't mind sleeping all day while they wait for you to come home, and they don't mind some time alone. But you really should listen to your heart on this, if you have a feeling it is not the right thing to do to an animal that has chosen to be by your side for so long, especially when she could have chosen to be with others in the home, then you shouldn't do it.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 9:11AM
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Not at all.

this cat is 12 years old, she's lived in the *same house* with the *same people* for a very long time, & moving to a new place with only one of "her" people would be very stressful for her.

Add the fact that the one person she'd have left wouldn't be with her much at all, & it's a recipe for death.

She's not a dog (dogs don't care where they move as long as their alpha person is with them; have you ever heard of a dog hiding behind the washing machine?), she's a cat, & she's too old to wrench her away from her familiar life & home.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 12:52PM
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I moved five hours away with my 12 year old cat and he was just fine. Yes, they are creatures of habit and prefer having things exactly the same at all times, however they do adapt. In fact, the cat handled the move far better than DH did. For a well-taken care of house cat I don't consider 12 to be that old - all the cats in my family have lived to be 18 or older. The cat will just sleep during the day and will wake up in time for catdilemna to return home from work, where she will spend time with it and all will be just fine. I agree with Ines99 - the cat has chosen to bond with one particular person in spite of having others around, and that is the person the cat should be with. In the new apartment catdilemna's scents will be all around, in her furniture, in her clothes, etc, therefore the cat will adjust to the new surroundings as long as her companion and familiar smells are nearby. Just my $.02.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 8:45PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

What if she wants to go out with friends at night? Or can't find a pet friendly apartment? What if her new job requires travel? Nope, the cat is better at it's home with two familiar people to look after it. It's not about what has worked for anyone else, but the specifics of this situation and everyones case is different.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 9:58PM
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My DD and SIL (both animal lovers) bought a house, cat included. Owner was moving from 5 acres to a house in town with a small yard. The cat had spent its whole life freely roaming the grounds and he knew keeping it indoors would be cruel and outdoors would be impossible.

Three years later, kitty is still doing his thing, just as happy and well adjusted as ever. A beautiful, friendly cat that goes in and out as the spirit moves him--but he has lots of "company" now. Sandy

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 2:15AM
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bumblebeez I am aware that everyone's situation is different, which is why my first post said it depends first on the personality of the cat. I have had experiences where the cat was fine with the move and others where the cat was not.

In my opinion, it is always possible to find a pet friendly apartment. I've lived in many from New York City to rural countryside and have not had a problem. As well as an active social life and my cats never resented my staying out at night. That's why I had cats, not dogs.

But OP has not even responded to all of our posts and questions therefore it's silly for us to debate amongst ourselves.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 10:00PM
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What did you decide to do in the end and how's it going?

I'm in an almost identical situation to you, albeit in England. I've been living with my parents since graduating from university and have recently accepted a job offer in a place that's around a 3 hour train journey away, so I'll be moving there.
I have a cat who lives at my parent's house, but she is 'my' cat, as in, I found her as a stray on the road when she was a tiny kitten, I took her in and she has been a very happy, lovely pet cat since.
I feel very close to her, she also sleeps on me, follows me around etc. When I've gone away for weekends etc. my parents have told me she pines in my room and obviously misses me, she doesn't stop eating or anything drastic but still I feel sad to hear she pines and things.
I have been looking for a place that is cat friendly, but realistically my budget for a flat/room is small and it would be extremely unfair to take her with me because of lack of space/being on her own all day. She gets well looked after by my parents and I know they will continue to do so when I go, but they have hinted at the fact that they'd like me to take her eventually as we have another, older rescue cat who really doesn't get on with my younger cat.
It's just such a dilemma...I'm really going to miss her, to the extent that moving away feels too hard. But I know I can't stay just for her and I have to move my life forward (i'm not happy living at home and I don't like the place I live in). It's just so hard, because I love her so :-(((
So do let me know what you did in the end and how it's going.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 7:04PM
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