Can our attachment to our cats be "unhealthy"?

sonnyvincent

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I'm just curious if anyone ever feels their attachment to their cat borders on unhealthy? Sometimes I think my attachment to my cat Sonny is, other times I think it's the best thing that's ever happened to me.

When he's sick, I am sick with worry. I obsess over it. One time he was hospitalized overnight and when the clinic closed I drove there and just sat in my car outside the clinic for two hours crying because I imagined how scared he must be all alone in the dark in a cage. He got out for the first time ever last September and I walked around the neighborhood all night and all day, crying and hugging strangers and begging them to help me find him. I went to the copy store to make flyers and sobbed the whole time. I went to McDonald's and sobbed the whole time. Keep in mind this was when he was gone less than 10 hours (ultimately he was back in about 22 hours but it felt like an ETERNITY). All I could think about is that this wasn't how I imagined his life would end, somewhere cold, scared, and alone, or that someone might hurt him. My sister, who was responsible for accidentally letting him out (leaving not one but TWO doors open somehow), had my wrath come down on her and I basically told her if I didn't find him or if he was found dead I would leave and never forgive her. And part of me thinks I would've actually done that. I love my sister very much, I practically raised her, but she has no respect for my bond with Sonny. She didn't even help look for him. Luckily he came back but I was a complete nervous wreck during those 22 hours.

He's been more loyal to me than any person in my life in the last 14 years. When he's scared he doesn't run and hide, he comes to me. He jumps in my lap and lets me comfort him. He sleeps next to me every night, under the covers when it's winter and on my shoulder when it's summer with his face on my chest and body next to my head. When I'm upset, it's like he senses it and always comes to me and head butts me and reminds me that, to him, I'm basically his everything. He even gives me kisses. He is stand offish to everyone else, but when it comes to me he's like a dog who needs constant love and attention. When I come home from going somewhere, he's always standing in the doorway as if he was waiting for me the whole time (he's deaf so he can't hear the car or anything like that).

Between 2010-2012 I was experiencing severe depression and every time I thought about ending things I knew I couldn't leave Sonny behind, and because he was older he would probably be pts before his time and considered unadoptable. So I had to hang in there, because I couldn't fail him. And maybe it's egotistical of me to assume he can love only me and would never bond with anyone else but I imagined how confused and scared he'd be if I was gone after all those years being so attached to me. So like, literally, having Sonny saved my life. And I know that sounds sweet but is that rational? That I didn't consider my family, my friends, my destination, or anything else?

I've never felt this close to a cat and I really don't know how I'm going to function when he's gone. That might not be for awhile now, although he was recently diagnosed with asthma, but I've been obsessing over it for several days since he had a severe asthma attack that I thought he wasn't going to come out of. I'm so afraid of going to sleep and having him go to the litterbox and somewhere along the way  have an attack and die alone. I guess that's the thing, I want to be there for him when he goes, and I'm scared to death I won't be. Almost to the point it feels unhealthy.

I've read a lot of threads on here where people have been as attached to their cats as I am, and devastated when they lose them or freaking out when their cat is hurt. So I know I'm not a complete anomaly. But I feel like I might be too attached to him, to the point where I might not function very well when he does go (whether I'm with him or not). I'm so glad to have him and know he has blessed my life and I don't regret that at all, but I value him more than things and people that I probably should care about more.

Am I overthinking this? Am I SUPPOSED to feel this way, as a good pet owner? Or am I too emotionally attached to him?
 

mwallace056

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i don't  think you can be too attach to a cat but the more you are attach to one, the more it going to hurt when a cat dies. if it get to the point where it affect our lives negatively or other people in our life negatively, i think it can become unhealthy. but i believe it is unlikely 
 

tuxedoontheloos

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Worrying about a loved one's health and well being isn't (or at least shouldn't be) considered unhealthy.

That said, there are people who have unhealthy attachments to their animals. I'm thinking mostly of hoarders who don't take care of their pets, but also refuse to let them go. A very sad circumstance for both the cats and the humans.

That doesn't seem to apply to you though.

The stuff about the Sonny saving your life makes perfect sense to me. I call Tuck my mental health cat. When he showed up the main reason I was looking to get a cat was because I experience periodic bouts of severe depression and (aside from loving cats generally) knew that having one in my care would prevent me from doing anything rash. When you're depressed you aren't rational and if Sonny is what kept you here that is something to be celebrated NOT something  to be ashamed of.

Being worried about a sick pet is also normal. You and Sonny have a very special bond. Of course you want him to be safe and happy and healthy! But likewise, he wants you to stay safe and happy and healthy as well. I don't know your personal circumstances so I could be totally off-base about this, but I don't think your attachment to Sonny is the problem. I think he's your rock in a sea of other problems so your worry about him is consequently magnified. Finding ways to make that sea a bit calmer might help lower your anxiety and make life easier for both of you.
 
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sonnyvincent

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Being worried about a sick pet is also normal. You and Sonny have a very special bond. Of course you want him to be safe and happy and healthy! But likewise, he wants you to stay safe and happy and healthy as well. I don't know your personal circumstances so I could be totally off-base about this, but I don't think your attachment to Sonny is the problem. I think he's your rock in a sea of other problems so your worry about him is consequently magnified. Finding ways to make that sea a bit calmer might help lower your anxiety and make life easier for both of you.
Thank you so much for this. Everything you said makes sense to me and helps me understand that our bond is not abnormal or unhealthy. I know he loves me, and it's not all in my head as he's always preferred me over anyone else no matter who we were living with. He trusts me. I guess I'm just sad that he's almost 14, and he's already gone deaf and has had health problems all his life so I don't know that he's going to make it to be 20 like some cats. And I've had cats through the years (in fact I have 3 right now) and none of them are as close to me as Sonny is. I don't think I will ever find a cat like him or who makes me feel the way he does. But I guess a lot of people feel that way. My great great aunt lived to be 85 and in my life prior to her passing away had 3 cats, all who she loved dearly. She used to show me pictures of cats she had back in the 50s and 60s even that she never forgot. So maybe I'll find another cat I can bond closely with, I just don't want to lose him :(  Anyway thank you, I really appreciate your response.
 

kntrygrl256

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I don't think it's unhealthy. I was between homes and had to leave my two boys at my ex's house with my daughter for a few weeks. They are my companion animals, they are so much more in my heart. I suffer from depression and anxiety and those 3 weeks were the worst I had been in years.

Even going by every other day wasn't enough. They sleep with me and are my constant companions at home. I would leave crying after every visit. I had Raven there and he would cry and jump on me when he knew I was going to leave. My daughter said he was depressed for the rest of the day after my visit.

Once I moved into my new place, the first thing I did was go get my boys....I slept better that night than I had in 3 weeks. I recently lost Raven and I'm still mourning him but I have Ghost to help me plus I have added a few more so I have plenty to keep me company. I prefer their company over humans most days.
 

raysmyheart

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I don't think it is unhealthy at all.  My best part of the day is to come home and see my cat Speedy, and I am  happy I am in the position to care for her.  I am fortunate to work with a lot of cat lovers, and we talk of our cats all through the day and how we worry about them at times too.    Honestly, my cat is my closest companion.  I have known many people who have had super-close, special bonds with cats, I do not think it is unhealthy at all.   
 

raysmyheart

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I forgot to say, I think it is great that you and Sonny are so close!  He sounds like a super, lovable cat!
 
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