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Anxious about new cat - any advice??

Svenja_hel

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Hi,
don’t worry - your anxious reaction is quite normal. I have had cats all my life, I moved out about 2 years ago and about half a year ago I moved in with my boyfriend. It was clear to us that we NEED a cat. Me personally, I cannot exist without my purring lovebugs, and I hated living without one. So we went out and adopted two little black kittens. Best decision ever, but sonetimes I feel anxious too. I know a lot about cats and have lived with them all my life, but suddenly it’s ME who has to take care of them. If anything goes wrong, they get sick or stuck in a window frame, it is my fault. They rely on my for everything, for survival. The correct food, appropriate vet treatments, everything is on me (and my partner of course). So don’t worry. It’s normal and it’ll be absolutely fine. The anxiousness comes from this intense experience of responsibility!
The best of luck for you two. :purr:
 

GraciesParent

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Thanks so much, everyone. I had another sleepless night, which I know doesn't help -- but my mind races, the dread sinks it, etc. etc. It sounds like a lot of people here know exactly what I'm talking about!

The one HUGE bonus is that Gracie is not at all timid -- she spent about five minutes in her "safe room" when I brought her home and was then like, "Okay, what else can I see?" She darted out of the room the second the door opened and then happily explored.

She settled in immediately, and within two hours of bringing her home she was sitting next to me on the couch, purring.

And while it's great that she's adjusted so quickly, I'm not even close.

Someone upthread mentioned friends saying, "Do you remember back when...", and that's what I desperately HOPE will be the case with me. That, months from now, I'll look back on this time and think, "OMG, what was I so panicked about?!"

For those of you now on the other side of the anxiety and happily in love with your cats, is there anything you can recommend (with the benefit of hindsight) in terms of coping strategies? I like @dlandbob's "one day at a time" approach, but I find with me that's easier said than done. Worrying about the future is like my second job. ;-)

Thank you again, everyone. Sincerely.
 

di and bob

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Mine too! :) When I get TOO intense, the best thing for me to do is to get my mind off of it, you have to purposely get your mind off that one way track. Do something, anything to get your mind out of those dark thoughts. Read, go for a walk, call someone and talk, go shopping, exercise. For me a good walk helps, but sometimes it gives me too much time to think, do something that occupies your mind, and keeps it occupied! Research books and sites on the computer about stress and how to cope with it, research on raising a cat....feeding, how to handle emergencies, what to look for to indicate a healthy, happy cat, etc. Above all don't dwell on what you can't change. Concentrate on what you can. And that is getting to know that little girl and letting her love you back!
 

Svenja_hel

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I think it helps to have little rituals, like before you leave the house or go to bed - whenever your Gracie is unsupervised.
When they were really little (only 2 or 3 months old) we used to have this checklist before leaving the house: Are all windows closed? Is the living room's fuse "deactivated" (we have a lot of electronics and cables in there and were worried the kitties might chew on them. Until we noticed that they couldn't care less about the cords and stuff)? Do they have food, toys and water available? Are all cleansers and similar possibly dangerous stuff out of reach? Kitchen door closed? Shower curtain tucked up (they scratch it and then pull threads out, Zingi once got his head and front paw all tangled up so we got used to putting it out of reach)? Is there some kind of stopper in the door frames so they can't slam and squeeze one of the cats? That one is especially important for the bathroom door as that's where their food and toilet are, so we always made sure to put something down to stop the door from shutting because of air streams or cats playing.
That's the basics. And you need to know that I'm a rather anxious person, I worry about everything and especially my cats, so I make up worst-case scenarios in my head and then try to prevent them from happening (that's how this list developed). I even stuff towels in the joints of our stair to the attic. The cats love playing up there and run up and down those stairs like it's nothing, but I'm worried they might trip and get their little heads stuck.
So you see, worrying is normal. Make up rituals so that you don't worry too much when you're not home, and try to really get to know your cat. Ours are half a year old now, still alive and unhurt. :D
But as a tip - you should maybe think about the possibility of adopting a second cat. They keep each other company and make sure they're never bored. It's incredibly beneficial for a cat's mental and physical health to have a friend around. The thought of mine being together always made my time away from home much easier. My boyfriend and me are both university students, so money's always a little tight, but we have never struggled in any way (to my anxious mind's surprise). That is what keeps a lot of people from having two cats, altough it is not really an issue. But then again you never know about other peoples situations in life, I just wanted to give a little advice. :-)

I still wish you all the best and hope, wherever you live, your sunday is or was as sunny as mine!
- Svenja
 

GraciesParent

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Thanks, folks! And I just realized I have once again typo-ed a name (and perhaps should look into glasses): it's not "dlandbob" it's "diandbob." Sorry about that!

Svenja_hel, two cats are a no-go in my building. And the thought of TWO cats is waaaaaaay too much for my brain to handle when I'm barely coping with just one. I think I need a checklist for *me* more than the cat, though: did I eat a meal? Have I stepped outside for something OTHER than a trip back to Petsmart? Have I showered today? etc. ;-) THAT's what's going to get me into a healthier routine, I think!
 

GraciesParent

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Thank you again for your support and insight. I'm a week in now, and unfortunately not much has changed. My anxiety is still high, and I woke up this morning in an inexplicable panic... then couldn't shake it for most of the day. Heart racing, feeling teary, no appetite, the whole shebang.

I'm now looking into coping strategies for anxiety (since I clearly need some) and hoping that helps. I don't want to make any decisions while I'm this anxious, but I don't want this situation to drag on without improvement.
 

chrtran94

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Oh my gosh, I felt absolutely crazy and on a whim, I decided to search up this topic. I hope it isn't rude of me to share my story here but these posts have made me feel a little less alone.

I've loved cats for years, and have always said I wanted to get one as soon as I could. Everyone who knows me, knows how much I love cats. I just graduated from college, and am living in my parents' house in a separated "studio" room. It's very small, roughly 7x8 (including the bathroom, also very small). I thought I'd be able to manage getting an older cat. I begged and fought with my parents to let me keep one in my room, and raced out of work to pick up Damien, the very shy cat I saw on the local MSPCA's instagram page.

I thought I could be patient and loving for him. Yet, all I feel is anxiety and an overwhelming desire to bring him back to the shelter and get my old life back. It's a very long story, but he was described by previous owners as a cuddle bug but very shy.

I've never been diagnosed with GAD, but I am a very anxious person, still never expected something like this to happen. The first five days, he pooped outside the litter box 3/3 times and it was very upsetting for me. Eventually, I think a combination of him settling in, getting enough play, and possibly CatAttract litter helped him poop properly. On the 6th day, he went from hiding and running from me, to actually coming out to play. He's sweet, but still shy and easily spooked, and all he wants are pets (if I move away from him even when he's eating, he'll follow me). I should love him, but I don't and it feels like it's eating me alive. All I can think about is that my room is so small, how I have to stay up until 12-1AM listening for him pooping to immediately scoop it out (it reeks and will fill my room if I don't act quick), then play with him for at least 1 hour and he still plays loudly during the night, keeping me up the rest of the night. I completely relate with the earlier poster who felt she was cooped up in her room with her cat.

I think Damien would do better with someone who has more experience, and maybe even another chill cat for him to play with. I feel awful but I can't stop feeling like I'm regretting this, especially during this time in my life when I only have a small room to call my own.
 

chrtran94

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Thank you again for your support and insight. I'm a week in now, and unfortunately not much has changed. My anxiety is still high, and I woke up this morning in an inexplicable panic... then couldn't shake it for most of the day. Heart racing, feeling teary, no appetite, the whole shebang.

I'm now looking into coping strategies for anxiety (since I clearly need some) and hoping that helps. I don't want to make any decisions while I'm this anxious, but I don't want this situation to drag on without improvement.
Hi GraciesParent, I was wondering how your situation is, and how you're doing. I think out of all the posts, I related the most to yours; your sentiments were exactly what I felt/am feeling. It's been a bit over a week since I brought my cat, Damien, home. He is unbelievably sweet, and I always thought I wanted a cat, until I have one and I can't help but feel like I made a mistake. The guilt and anxiety are both overwhelming.
 

GraciesParent

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Hi chrtran94, and I'm sorry to hear you're going through what I went through. I'm probably not the best person to ask, as my situation is (technically) still undecided. Seeing how anxious I was, my sister offered to take Gracie... which she's done. Gracie's been living with her for the past couple of weeks, and I've been visiting/cat-sitting regularly in that time.

The time apart has allowed me to breathe, and to gain some perspective. Things *were* improving in the last couple of days the cat was with me, and part of me wonders if I gave up (on myself) too soon. I've second-guessed myself almost every day since, but I can at least rest easier because I know Gracie is in a super-loving home and I still get to see her as often as I'd like. So, she may wind up staying w/ my sister permanently (which my sister has said she'd be more than happy to have happen).

I received a LOT of great advice in this thread and others -- if you do a quick site search for "regret" and/or "anxious," you'll probably find a few more threads like this one. They're all packed with support, suggestions and helpful stories.

For me, the anxiety was all-consuming and (in hindsight) I can see how it was clouding my judgment, so I do wonder what would have happened if I'd forced myself to stick it out for a couple more weeks.

My only advice would be to not rush into any decisions. See if you can find support around you, either from your family or friends or even the staff at the shelter, and some help talking things through, weighing pros and cons, etc. Best of luck to you, no matter what you decide!
 

strawberrymilkshake

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Thank you for posting this thread. It has helped me so much already. I just adopted Emmie yesterday and have been in tears and continual panic attacks for the last 24 hours. It is so comforting, so very comforting, to know that I am not the only one who panicked upon bringing her home and wanting to turn right back around and take her back. :grouphug:
 

chrtran94

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Hi chrtran94, and I'm sorry to hear you're going through what I went through. I'm probably not the best person to ask, as my situation is (technically) still undecided. Seeing how anxious I was, my sister offered to take Gracie... which she's done. Gracie's been living with her for the past couple of weeks, and I've been visiting/cat-sitting regularly in that time.

The time apart has allowed me to breathe, and to gain some perspective. Things *were* improving in the last couple of days the cat was with me, and part of me wonders if I gave up (on myself) too soon. I've second-guessed myself almost every day since, but I can at least rest easier because I know Gracie is in a super-loving home and I still get to see her as often as I'd like. So, she may wind up staying w/ my sister permanently (which my sister has said she'd be more than happy to have happen).

I received a LOT of great advice in this thread and others -- if you do a quick site search for "regret" and/or "anxious," you'll probably find a few more threads like this one. They're all packed with support, suggestions and helpful stories.

For me, the anxiety was all-consuming and (in hindsight) I can see how it was clouding my judgment, so I do wonder what would have happened if I'd forced myself to stick it out for a couple more weeks.

My only advice would be to not rush into any decisions. See if you can find support around you, either from your family or friends or even the staff at the shelter, and some help talking things through, weighing pros and cons, etc. Best of luck to you, no matter what you decide!
Hi GraciesParent, thanks for your reply. I'm glad to hear you're doing well and you may have found a great solution that works out for the both of you! I'm quite envious!!

It's been nearly three weeks since I brought Damien home. The anxiety has come down a bit since he's settling in better. It just feels very overwhelming to have him in my very small room with me all the time. He's also VERY needy and requires lots of playtime all through the night no matter what I do, which has resulted in me getting very little sleep on top of the stress.

As the days go on, I still find myself debating if I should bring him back, the anxiety making me WANT to bring him back. I keep feeling like my situation was not the right time to bring a cat home, which I deeply regret and wish I had realized in hindsight. Luckily, the shelter has made me feel a bit better by saying it's likely with the amount of interest he generated in his first post that he'd get adopted sooner than later if I brought him back.

I worry I'll regret it if I bring him back, but as it is right now, it feels so stressful. It weighs even more heavily on me, because I have a big, big test coming up in less than 2 weeks' time. Normally, I think I would be able to tough it out for a few more days or weeks, but I really don't want all this additional stress so close to my exam. I know I'll miss him if he's gone, but I also think I'll feel a huge relief. All the posts so far have been great and encouraging and most people have ended up keeping their new friend, so it makes me feel more like a failure if I end up bringing him back.
 

JustAnotherPetParent

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I'm so glad I found this thread. I just got my 3 month old kitten, Leon, 4 days ago, and my anxiety has been through the roof. I've had a history of panic attacks, more frequently this year than before, and getting Leon has pushed this over the edge causing me a panic attack every day. These past couple of days has just been a swirl of negative thoughts telling me that I made the wrong decision and a horrible person for even considering taking him back to the adoption center. Finding that people have had similar experiences has kind of saved me. Thank you for understanding how I am feeling, and I hope what I'm feeling will pass soon!
 

jsckiebo

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Since there have been a number of new posts since I originally posted here, I wanted to update. Next week I will have had Sadie for 9 months. She is the light of my life. My whole world. I am THAT cat lady that has a million pictures on her phone. She is spoiled rotten and we are best friends. I am so glad I stuck it out. That first month was hard. The second month was a little better. Now it’s like I don’t remember what life was like before her. The panic and anxiety was intense. There were so many times I put her in her carrier to take her back. My sister had to talk me off the ledge daily. Maybe hourly. I felt like I was losing my mind and the anxiety was all encompassing. I was no different than you. You are no different than me. YOU WILL GET THROUGH IT. And will be grateful every day that you stuck it out. I didn’t rescue Sadie. She rescued me. She has literally changed my life. Stick it out. Fight through it. Slowly but surely it will get better. There is nothing like the love of a cat and every one of you deserves to feel that love.

Jackie
 

di and bob

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Don't dwell on taking care of your cat, of trying to meet all his demands. Just like a child they will take all they can get so it can very easily turn into something stressful. You have to set limits. That little one is so overjoyed at finding someone to love they are wild with joy and the zest for life. Don't try to be perfect, nothing ever is. When you feel the stress building, concentrate on something that you enjoy, or will keep your mind occupied, go for a walk, get on this site, call a friend, go for a drive, exercise. Just sit back and enjoy a little creature who give you so much in return for so little. Don't try to shape or foresee the future, it is futile. Concentrate on the now, the present and let the future take care of itself. A kitten is stressful to even the most seasoned. They are frankly exhausting to even watch they are so active. Take time for yourself, give the kitten toys to keep them busy, food, water, and a warm place to sleep, and everything else will follow. In a few years you'll think they never move off the couch at all!
 

Catlady?

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Hello everybody! I’m so glad to see I’m not alone! I am really anxious about my cat. The thing is, I rescued him off the street 2 months ago. I am not a cat person and don’t know much about them, but it was starting to snow and he was just freezing outside I couldn’t just leave him. And all this time I’ve been super anxious for different reasons. First it was the responsibility. Because I wasn’t planning on getting a pet the first few days I was just a complete mess. And he was so great and lovable that taking him to a shelter seemed so cruel. After a month things started getting better, but then the vet discovered he had worms, even though we dewormed him like the vet recommended. So now I’m constantly panicked that he’ll get me sick, or even more importantly one of my family members sick. Everybody says stop reading the internet, but when I read about the sicknesses trasmitted from cats to humans I just freak out. I’ve been washing my hands non-stop and they’re cracked now...
I am an anxious person and now becoming Obsessive because I just want to disinfect everything so nobody gets sick. I don’t know how to overcome this. I’m not getting enough sleep and just crying from being overwhelmed.
 

di and bob

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There are actually VERY FEW illness that are transmitted from cats to humans. cats are much cleaner animals than dogs. I have had cats for over 50 years, am a RN, and have never had a family member get sick from an animal transmitted disease. For one thing NEVER go to the internet for medical advise. They predict death from a hangnail. Every illness will bring bad things. Don't you think that vets and their assistants would be sick all the time if that is true? If you have a concern ask/call your vet. Try to busy yourself with trying to research on how to build up your families immune system. You are MUCH more apt to get something from humans, and you can't avoid that. Worms are rarely transmitted, most are specific to animals ,and tapeworms, which are the segments humans see coming from the anus, need a rabbit to complete the life cycle so if you keep your cat inside you are safe. You would have to eat a raw rabbit to get the worms.
It's never a bad thing to wash your hands, but try not to get obsessive. You need to distract your mind from going where it is. Find something you enjoy doing and do it. Get out more, go for a walk. When dark thoughts come, purposely research or think of something else. It does absolutely no good to dwell on all those what ifs. It doesn't change a thing in the future. Research what good comes from owning a cat, the health benefits are much greater than the bad. Get to know your cat, play wand games, watch what enjoyment they get from life. Let your little one relax you, not bring you anxiety. And that you do by purposely getting your mind there, not on all those 'what will happen in the future' that never do. please come here whenever you need to for advise, keep us posted!
 

Catlady?

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There are actually VERY FEW illness that are transmitted from cats to humans. cats are much cleaner animals than dogs. I have had cats for over 50 years, am a RN, and have never had a family member get sick from an animal transmitted disease. For one thing NEVER go to the internet for medical advise. They predict death from a hangnail. Every illness will bring bad things. Don't you think that vets and their assistants would be sick all the time if that is true? If you have a concern ask/call your vet. Try to busy yourself with trying to research on how to build up your families immune system. You are MUCH more apt to get something from humans, and you can't avoid that. Worms are rarely transmitted, most are specific to animals ,and tapeworms, which are the segments humans see coming from the anus, need a rabbit to complete the life cycle so if you keep your cat inside you are safe. You would have to eat a raw rabbit to get the worms.
It's never a bad thing to wash your hands, but try not to get obsessive. You need to distract your mind from going where it is. Find something you enjoy doing and do it. Get out more, go for a walk. When dark thoughts come, purposely research or think of something else. It does absolutely no good to dwell on all those what ifs. It doesn't change a thing in the future. Research what good comes from owning a cat, the health benefits are much greater than the bad. Get to know your cat, play wand games, watch what enjoyment they get from life. Let your little one relax you, not bring you anxiety. And that you do by purposely getting your mind there, not on all those 'what will happen in the future' that never do. please come here whenever you need to for advise, keep us posted!
Thanks for your reply! I had a dog for 10 years and she spent a lot of time outdoors in the country and we never thought twice about it! But now - the Internet(( One of my problems is that I don’t trust the vets that much. I’ve had to visit different ones because it’s the holidays and in hindsight I’m amazed the first two didn’t ask for a stool sample given he’s a street cat. So it took so long to detect he had roundworms. How do you find a good vet? With human doctors I can make sense of what they tell me and decide if I trust them, plus my mom is a retired pediatrician, so that helps, but here I’m not sure who to listen to ( and the different vets do say very different things).
 

leahri

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Hi all,
I know it's been a little while since anyone has written in this thread, but I can't tell you how helpful it's been for me to stumble upon this. My fiance and I have been talking about pets for almost a year now, but it was all very hypothetical, as we weren't sure if a cat or dog was right for our family. Ultimately we decided that a cat is a good option because of our work and travel schedules, and we went to look at shelters, but it was kind of just for fun. I didn't grow up with any pets, AND I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder...

This past Sunday, we went to the shelter, again, just for fun, and found a very sweet cat named Junebug. She came up in our legs, let us pet her, and didn't seem terribly phased when there were other naughty cats around her. And then...it all happened so fast! We placed a hold, bought items at Petco, and picked her up on Monday evening after work (today is Wednesday morning, for reference). I was so horribly anxious ALL day, though I didn't feel like I didn't want her. When we went to get her, she was okay. But THEN the volunteer put her in the carrier we brought, and she was trying to escape from her arms and was so unhappy that I just about lost it. But we got her home and put her in our guest room, which we have set up with everything she would need for a few days; litter box, food and water on the other side of the room, a bed for her to hide under, a window to look out of. When we got her home, we left her in the carrier for about 45 minutes to calm down before going in the room with the door closed and opening it up. Well, she's an interesting girl, because she came out right away and let us pet her and was nuzzling us. But then, she hid. And then, she didn't eat or drink or poop for a solid 24 hours. And through all of this, I had affection for her, but was still SO incredibly anxious. My fiance is wonderful and helped me through, but it was so hard.

Now after all that backstory (sorry), she has eaten, mostly because my fiance bought wet food to entice her, and she has had water, but has not pooped yet. She popped her head out from under the bed to let us pet her last night, and this morning she actually walked around the perimeter of the bed, purring all the way and looking for me to pet her. So I KNOW things are improving, and going the direction they should be. But it's amazing how horrible anxiety can be. Even when she is doing all of this sweet stuff, my irrational, anxious brain feels like it's winning. I imagine bringing her back to the shelter, or "fantasizing" about finding out I'm actually allergic so we have to. I fixate on all of the future things I'm scared of, like getting her back in the carrier for her first vet visit, trimming her nails, her scratching the bedroom door and furniture, and even MOVING, which we probably aren't doing for at least 5 years.

Writing all of this out has helped, and I appreciate anyone who reads this indulging my saga. And like I said, finding this thread has been really helpful and any words of encouragement would be so appreciated. I'm going back to my therapist next week; honestly, by then, we probably both will have adjusted and I'll come back here and be like "omg she's the best she's my best friend". But thanks, all <3
image1.png
 

Etarre

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Congratulations on adopting Junebug, who is adorable! She sounds like she's settling in nicely, and you're doing a great job of taking care of her. I don't normally think of myself as an anxious person, but it is daunting to suddenly have responsibility for a little fuzzy being who can't make verbal requests, and feel pressure to intuit what will make them happy. Trust me, if you're invested in making her comfortable in your home and settling her into your family, you're absolutely doing it right. Hang in there, and lean on your b/f when necessary for some perspective. And feel free to ask for all the advice and support you need on this board-- everyone here is really invested in helping cat adoptions succeed.
 

leahri

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Congratulations on adopting Junebug, who is adorable! She sounds like she's settling in nicely, and you're doing a great job of taking care of her. I don't normally think of myself as an anxious person, but it is daunting to suddenly have responsibility for a little fuzzy being who can't make verbal requests, and feel pressure to intuit what will make them happy. Trust me, if you're invested in making her comfortable in your home and settling her into your family, you're absolutely doing it right. Hang in there, and lean on your b/f when necessary for some perspective. And feel free to ask for all the advice and support you need on this board-- everyone here is really invested in helping cat adoptions succeed.
Thanks so much. I think the responsibility aspect is part of it. And because it happened so fast! Like we went to go look for a cat for fun, and then next day, we just have a cat, and we have her for a long, long time. It can be overwhelming.
 
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