Devastated after rehoming one of my cats

aislinn

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Hi everyone,

I have had the joy of having two sibling cats for the past 5 years.  A couple of months ago, my male cat saw a stray outside, and turned his aggression on to his sister.  It was a horrific and violent fight, and I managed to step in to prevent any further harm to my female.  I separated them immediately, and consulted with a behaviorist who talked me through a reintroduction.  After three devastating attempts at reintroducing them, I made the heart wrenching decision to return my male cat (the aggressor) to the rescue group where I had adopted him.  That was two weeks ago, and although they have kept me updated on him (he has not been adopted out yet), I cry constantly every day because I miss him terribly.  I am completely devastated by this, and saddened that it came to this.  I had never heard of redirected aggression before, but had I known that this was a possible outcome, I would have shielded my cats from the outside world.  I tried to live with the two of them in separate rooms, but my female was so distressed by the end of the day, by staying in my bedroom.

I don't know if I will ever get over this.  I can't even speak to pet loss support groups because I am ashamed of the fact that I let him go.

Is there anyone out there who has been through this, and if so, how did you cope.

I am heartbroken and lost without my boy, and I know there's no hope of my ever seeing him again.

Thank you to anyone who understands.
 

Kat0121

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Hi everyone,

I have had the joy of having two sibling cats for the past 5 years.  A couple of months ago, my male cat saw a stray outside, and turned his aggression on to his sister.  It was a horrific and violent fight, and I managed to step in to prevent any further harm to my female.  I separated them immediately, and consulted with a behaviorist who talked me through a reintroduction.  After three devastating attempts at reintroducing them, I made the heart wrenching decision to return my male cat (the aggressor) to the rescue group where I had adopted him.  That was two weeks ago, and although they have kept me updated on him (he has not been adopted out yet), I cry constantly every day because I miss him terribly.  I am completely devastated by this, and saddened that it came to this.  I had never heard of redirected aggression before, but had I known that this was a possible outcome, I would have shielded my cats from the outside world.  I tried to live with the two of them in separate rooms, but my female was so distressed by the end of the day, by staying in my bedroom.

I don't know if I will ever get over this.  I can't even speak to pet loss support groups because I am ashamed of the fact that I let him go.

Is there anyone out there who has been through this, and if so, how did you cope.

I am heartbroken and lost without my boy, and I know there's no hope of my ever seeing him again.

Thank you to anyone who understands.
I'm so sorry that you are going through this. 


My late DH and I had to bring a cat back to a shelter many years ago not because of aggression but because DH was severely allergic. I still think about her. 


You said that you tried the reintroduction and it failed. Can I ask you a few things?

Are both of your cats spayed/neutered? 

Where is the stray cat that set him off? Is he/she still hanging around?

Was your boy seen by a vet to eliminate the possibility that his behavior was related to something medical? 

Again, I'm so sorry that this happened. They worm their way into our hearts so quickly and they take a piece of you with them when you have to let them go. I know the little girl we had did and she wasn't with us very long. 
 
 
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aislinn

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Hi Kat0121, I'm sorry you had to give up your cat as well.  Yes, both cats were neutered and spayed (brother and sister). The stray has been back around, but has not upset my female.  My male, Finn, was a very anxious cat, and very territorial, so I can understand why the stray set him off.  He has been seen by a vet, and no medical issue at all.  It was all a case of redirected aggression.  I tried Elavil (anti-anxiety meds) for both cats, but that did not seem to work.  He was just as aggressive the first time he saw his sister after a 10 day separation, as he was the day he saw the stray cat.  It became unbearable for his sister, who became highly stressed when she could sense he was outside my bedroom.  I had Feliway plug-ins all over the house, and used Bach Rescue Remedy in both cats' water bowls.  I even prayed to the Patron Saint of Cats - Saint Gertrude - hoping for a miracle.  

I know that my boy will find another home, but we were so close and bonded, and I honestly don't know how I will ever get over my decision.  I have lost cats due to death in the past, and despite my grief, there was closure, and it was of course out of my hands.  I made the decision to return my boy, and feel that I will live with the regret and pain for the rest of my life.  

Thank you for your reply, and as I said, I am sorry you had to do the same.  I hope your little girl ended up in a wonderful home.
 

Mamanyt1953

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I am sitting here just heartbroken for you.  Like making the decision to euthanize, however, you have acted in the ultimate best interest of BOTH of your beloved cats.  And you got him to a safe place to await a new forever home.  These things do happen, and no one understands our grief over it, it seems.  They all want to say, "At least he didn't DIE!" as if that lessens our own loss.   Hold tight to your little girl (what is her name?) and now is the time to pray to St. Gertrude for comfort for yourself.  That's fair, and allowed. 

Hugs to you. 
 

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I am so sorry for you! It will all be okay, and yes there are many cases of redirected aggression that end in far worse ways than this one.
You did what was best for both of the cats, and he will find a beautiful home where he can recover.
All that happiness he brought you will go on to be shared with another wonderful family.
I understand your feelings, and I can only hope and pray that you soon feel better, there will always be down parts of life, but there will be more good to come in the future.
 
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aislinn

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Mamanyt953 and Haleyds, thank you both for your kind words. I had feared that people would judge me harshly, but you have both been so kind. Your words helped me today. I am sitting here with my girl, Nola, on my lap, and as much as I miss her brother to the point where it cuts through to the very core, I am now focusing on giving her the best life ever. Believe me, I have worn out every saint in Heaven with my prayers. I will be able to move on once I know my boy, Finn is in a wonderful, loving home. I will never forget him, and can't imagine a day when the tears will stop, but I'm praying for his happiness and my healing. Thank you both again for your kindness and understanding. It means the world to me.
 

Mamanyt1953

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Hugs, Darlin.  We are  here to support and uphold.  Sometimes rehoming is the kindest, most responsible thing, just as sometimes surrendering a human child for adption is the most loving action a mother can take.  Never, ever would I judge harshly any action taken for the good of an animal.
 

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Oh my Aislinn, I'm so sorry to hear. I also believe the grief of rehoming a pet is sometimes worse than losing a pet through death, as there's so much guilt and no closure afterwards. Where did they go? Where are they now? Are they loved and happy? Did I make the right decision? So many unanswered questions... 

I am with you in spirit and support. I'm going through this right now as well.

We rehomed our 10-month old kitten Leo last Saturday due to redirected aggression between my older female Lucy and my other older male Chaz (you know our story). It was the best decision we could come up with that would give us the best chance at success for everyone. Even though Lucy is my "problem child," I know that no one wants a 6 year old female cat with behavior issues, so Leo was rehomed in order to give Lucy and Chaz a chance at remending. I've been a miserable mess all week and I'm so, so sad. I've thought about calling the rescue organization to see how he is, but I'm almost afraid to, as that will keep me from moving on.

We are doing this 100%. Lucy is on Prozac now (it will be 2 weeks on Monday) and I have a stand-by prescription for Elavil for Chaz in case he needs it. We are doing veeeery slow reintroduction sessions 2-4 times a day to desensitize them both. So far, it is going well (knock on wood), but it will be a slow process. I don't know if the Prozac is starting to work, but it takes anywhere for 2 - 3 weeks to really start making a difference. I think it is helping.

Big hugs to you. If you were close to where I lived, I'd bring over a bottle of wine and we'd have a big cry session.
 
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aislinn

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Aw, Craftygirl, thank you so much. I know your story so well, and wanted to ask you how you were doing after rehoming Leo. I know how hard it is. I hope he's ok, but at his young age, he'll easily find a new home and will adapt quickly. You're definitely going about the reintroductions the right way. Slow and steady. The meds are definitely the way to go in your case. I pray that Chaz and Lucy renew their bond and that your home is a happy one again. Isn't this just the worst thing that can happen to our beloved cats. I keep replaying my situation in my mind and so wish I could have prevented it. I never imagined it having to come to this. Please keep me posted, and know that I am praying with all of my heart that your two get back together.

Mamanyt1953, you are so kind. I am so grateful to have met you through this site. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.
 

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Hi Aislinn,

I had to rehome my pretty girl about  5 1/2 months ago.  I still think about her all the time. I have her picture as wallpaper on my computer. It was extremely hard  for us to rehome her. We tried for over 2 years to fix the problem between her and one of our other cats. We had a total of 4 of them at that time. We tried everything, and I mean everything, including drugs for both of them.  Nothing worked.  Our home was so stressful that neither my husband or I wanted to come home from work.  We felt totally trapped in our situation. After a really bad event  I realized that we had to do something. I was lucky enough to find a relative of my vet to take her. He had wanted a cat for some time.  I cried like crazy when we dropped her off and for weeks after that.  One thing that makes it bad is that I know where she lives but  I know that I can't see her or pet her anymore. I don't want to be some crazy person knocking on his door asking to see her. Believe me the thought has crossed my mind and for awhile after I first rehomed her I would drive past his house on the way home from work to see if I could see her looking out the windows.  I felt so crazy doing that but I missed her so much. I fessed up to my husband about doing it and he said he did it too.  I didn't feel so bad then. I have heard from my vet that she is doing extremely well and her and her new dad are very happy together. She is now a very happy totally spoiled girl and he loves her very much.. That is all I could hope for.

Someone mentioned in a post that when one of our fur kids passes away you know it is final. You no longer have to worry if they are happy or in pain, etc.  Over the years I have had three fur kids die from old age and one from disease.  At those times I was devastated just like I was with this rehoming.  When you have to rehome  them,  you can't help but  wonder if they are OK or not.  For me. it has almost been the harder of the two situations. 

Our home is back to normal now. All the fur kids are feeling safe and happy and are blossoming from not having to deal with all the stress. I know that we did the right thing for all concerned. I think you did the same. 

Best of luck to you
 
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aislinn

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Oh, Mishicats, your message is a Godsend.  Your situation is exactly like mine, and you sadly rehomed your girl as I rehomed my boy.  I am so happy your girl found a loving home, and I do believe it must help you and your husband feel better about your decision.  I totally understand your wondering how she is doing, and driving by her new home.  It is so painful to know that we'll never see or pet our beloved kitty again.  My little guy, who I absolutely adored, and the feeling was mutual, is still in limbo with a rescue, so he hasn't been adopted yet.  I know that once he is, I'll be able to breathe easier.  Right now, I worry about him, and cry every day thinking about him, and constantly question my decision.  The pain is sometimes unbearable, and I've almost wanted to call the rescue to beg for him back.  I know that's not the answer, but the heartache is so strong.  I am so relieved to know that there is someone there who understands, and is happier with your situation the way it is now.  To know that you got through it helps me immensely, and reaffirms my decision which was in the best interest of his sister, who lives with me, and him, who will hopefully find a loving home as yours did. 

Thank you so much for responding.  Everyone on this board has been so kind and understanding, and believe me, I have prayed for clarity and guidance, and all who have responded have been the answer.
 

mishicats

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Hi Aislinn,

I am glad I was able to comfort you with your grief, even if it is just a little bit.  I can feel the sadness in you postings. It makes me cry.  Hang in there.
 

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I can't even imagine the pain of having to rehome a pet. I've never done it, and we've had animals that just didn't get along at all. But I would be devastated if things got to the point where we did have to do that. I feel for you so much right now. It sounds like you truly tried everything and put a lot of effort into making things work.

:hugs:

How is your girl doing right now?
 
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aislinn

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Donutte, My girl, Nola, is doing great. She's not stressed, and wanders around quite comfortably now. At first, she was very nervous venturing out of the bedroom, and it was hard for me to get her downstairs. I let her do it in her own time, and after a few days, she was a bit more courageous. I do sense that she missed her brother, and sniffs around looking for him. She misses the brother she would sleep with, but not the aggressive cat that attacked her. I will never understand a cat's mind. I have learned so much since this experience, and will never bring another cat into my home. I miss my little boy terribly, and just hope that one day I'll be able to think about him without crying. I lost two cats to death before, and cried for weeks, but I was able to heal knowing that they were in a better place, and not suffering. This time is so different. I know that once he is in a good home, and loved, that I will feel better. I worry about him every day, how he must be feeling so lost and abandoned by the only human he has ever known. This is by far the saddest thing I have ever been through, and my heart goes out to anyone who has ever been through this.
 

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Is there anyone you know who does not already have cats that would be willing to adopt him? Obviously they would have to go through the rescue, but just wondering if there is anyone. That way you'd have some peace of mind then?
 
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aislinn

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Donutte, I had thought the same thing. I brainstormed, trying to come up with a friend or neighbor who would adopt him, but the ones that I would trust to adopt him already have cats, and the friends who don't, would not want one. I wish I knew someone, and yes, that would make it so much more bearable. I am constantly praying for a miracle, and won't give up. Thank you for that idea and your concern. If you're a believer, please say a prayer for my boy. Thank you.
 

Mamanyt1953

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Sweetie, I'll hang here with you for as long as you need.  And feel free to PM me at any time.  I don't always get onsite EVERY DAY, but my PM notifications come to my email inbox, and those I DO see every day.
 
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aislinn

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Oh, Mamany1953, you are such a kind soul. I may just pm you when I feel my world crashing. It happens every day. Thank you so much.
 

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Hi everyone,

I have had the joy of having two sibling cats for the past 5 years.  A couple of months ago, my male cat saw a stray outside, and turned his aggression on to his sister.  It was a horrific and violent fight, and I managed to step in to prevent any further harm to my female.  I separated them immediately, and consulted with a behaviorist who talked me through a reintroduction.  After three devastating attempts at reintroducing them, I made the heart wrenching decision to return my male cat (the aggressor) to the rescue group where I had adopted him.  That was two weeks ago, and although they have kept me updated on him (he has not been adopted out yet), I cry constantly every day because I miss him terribly.  I am completely devastated by this, and saddened that it came to this.  I had never heard of redirected aggression before, but had I known that this was a possible outcome, I would have shielded my cats from the outside world.  I tried to live with the two of them in separate rooms, but my female was so distressed by the end of the day, by staying in my bedroom.

I don't know if I will ever get over this.  I can't even speak to pet loss support groups because I am ashamed of the fact that I let him go.

Is there anyone out there who has been through this, and if so, how did you cope.

I am heartbroken and lost without my boy, and I know there's no hope of my ever seeing him again.

Thank you to anyone who understands.
I am not an expert. But is there a chance that his being separated and out of the house would allow a reset you couldn't get at home.? Is he interacting with the cats at the rescue ?Not trying to offer false hope. Just trying to see any possible solution.  It must have been beyond bearable to resort to taking him back. So it wasn't taken on lightly. Sometimes no matter how hard we try things just don't work out.
 

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Just an idea.    When my fosters get adopted out the rescue allows me to interview the prospective "parents"  and I build a relationship with them.   We keep in touch via email and phone and I get pictures regularly.  Maybe the rescue would allow you to be involved in the process?   That might bring you some comfort.  
 
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