Problem Bonding - What to do about the competion?

CatDaddio

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Mods - If you have a Person Behavior Form, feel free to move it there! 😱

I’m going to try and make as this succinct as possible. If I left out any details in my quest of trying not to ramble, please fire away with any questions or any clarifications you want fleshed out a bit more. I’m here in search of advice. My gut tells me it’s time-sensitive to figure out a plan – but I may be completely incorrect in this assumption. I’m embarrassed to say that the below was my effort at being brief



I’m a recent widower. My wife had a really tough decade before she died. After the original diagnosis 11 years ago she was aggressive in her choice of treatments (this choice has a consequence of being very, very tough for the patient with respect to side effects). But it looked like the right decision 2 ½ years later when we were told that the treatment course worked, and her scans/labs indicated that she was “completely cancer free with a great chance for a mostly normal lifespan”. I won’t go into the details except to say that she experienced three false remissions with all the heartbreak and pain associated with her determination to be as aggressive as the Oncologists will allow. Most people have trouble with one course of chemo/radiation and she put up through three.

I described our last eleven years because it is relevant. It will explain some of my perceived urgency as well as my strong resolve on some issues.

OK, cat talk time. Let me start by saying, we have no children. It was not in the cards due to bizarre genetics, but we dealt with it decades ago by becoming favorite Uncles and Aunts and having lots of pets. Human adoption did not appeal to us at that time. There were several generations of puppies and a cat or four the first 25 or so years of marriage. One day attrition finally got in sync and we were suddenly pet-less (pet-free?). That day was over 20 years ago.

A couple of days later the Fate Stork delivered us a sole, abandoned, exposed kitten literally laying on the asphalt at the end of our driveway. We weened this 1.5 week old kitten (sex hard to tell due to age and condition). This one was weird because with the rescue and weening we found in ourselves the parents we never were. We did not get any more animals. Kitty (yes, that’s her name. yes, she was a she). We developed a bond with her that people here will understand, but non cat lovers never will. She was a part of our lives and souls that was complete. I.e. we were dedicated to her as much as anyone with their humanoid kittens. I’m not saying we loved her more than we would have loved a human baby, I’m just saying that it would have been the same. We loved her as much as we loved each other. Enough said? Keep this in mind for when I say things that seem too emotional for an adult man.

I’ll start to pull this all together now.

When my wife had her first diagnosis and subsequent first night in the hospital (first night we were ever apart since wedding), I developed an even stronger bond with Kitty than I had in the first 10 years of her life. That should not have been possible. But the two of us “worried” together and missed mommy not being home together. I turned from a cat nut to a crazy cat lady from then on. I literally do not own one single shirt that’s not a cat tee, cat monogram, cat watches, bumper stickers, wall clocks, calendars, yard flags, bird chimes, mugs…

Let me mention, I do not work. I have been on disability for 15 years due to an aorta trauma I got when an 18 wheeler did not see me on my motorcycle as he was stopping at a red light. I had a helmet on and was lucky to not have gotten a head injury but - yada yada yada old news– only thing relevant is that I don’t work. Because of this I was with my wife and Kitty 24/7 since then. Consequently, all of our bonding was that much more intense. We lived for and through each other. If I was not at the hospital, I was with Kitty. I did not go out – no family in town, friends just wanted to get drunk so I rarely saw them. My friends were her medical team.

Winding Down –

My wife finally got her deserved rest when she died on June 10th. On June 15th I made a commitment for my mother to move here from Florida and I will be her primary caregiver. She is 87 years old. She has memory issues, but not dementia. She falls a lot but has not broken anything yet. She has middle to later stage congestive heart failure that we are managing through medications. Her prognosis is not grave, but she could become that quickly. On Monday and Tuesday she arrived WITH her CAT, Harley.

Friday, July 1st, I turned 65 years old. At 2pm Friday on my Birthday, I had to euthanize Kitty. She was 20 years, 2 months old. She went into end stage renal disease 2 days earlier then was gone. It was so fast. I am profoundly sad. In the last 20 days I have been left behind by the 2 women that were my whole entire life and world. I was with one for 45 years and the other for 20 years. In exchange I got my convalescing mother and Harley (who seems nice but is also part of the problem).

After Kitty died in my arms on my birthday, which was 2+ weeks after my wife died in my arms, I walked away from the Vet on a mission. I was purposeful and driven. I did not hesitate. I knew what I had to do. I got in my car and drove to the local shelter. I adopted this young lady in the picture. She’s insanely cute, sweet and totally bonkers – i.e. purrfect. She’s a year old and is only 6 pounds. She makes my heart melt. Her name is – wait for it – Kitty Too

My home is set up where my living area is 2 floors away from where I moved my mom into. Kitty Too hid in my recliner for an hour then came out like she owns the place. We had a fun afternoon – I was smiling. Then she disappeared.

In her travels exploring the house she found Harley. Harley is 18 years old and has neither affinity nor dislike of Kitty Too. He just sits there and looks at her bouncing around.

Last night, Harley, Kitty Too, and my mom all slept in her bed. Today they hung out there all day as well. With Harley being 18, he’s not going to too many places. My mom feeds them both in her area because Kitty Too has not come back to my area to eat. I’m devastated and also racked with guilt because I feel I’m being selfish in my heart. I went and got her for me. I need her. I want her in MY bed (and lap etc.). But at the same time, she obviously has done nothing wrong. In fact, my mom and the 2 cats have certainly just been who and what they are.

What do I do? I think I only have 2 choices;

  • Grab Kitty Too and put her on my floor and close the door to my Mom’s area at least until Kitty Too has bonded with me. Once she has chosen me (god that sounds so immature), I’ll let her run free. I’m dubious of this option because even if I get her to bond, she might just choose Harley anyways. The problem is that she came from a shelter that had OVER 100 cats there and apparently she was the social director according to the volunteers. I also am afraid she will scratch at the door knowing he is on the other side and that will be terrible for her as well as torture for me. I don’t restrict my cat from anything.
  • Give up having my own cat and deal with it. Well, after reading the novella above NOW you know why this is the choice that makes me shiver in sadness. I’m so used to having a dedicated, loyal child in original Kitty that I just can’t fathom Kitty Too just being a house cat or my mom’s cat 98% of the time. I’ll only see her in passing. It’s like the cats we had with our college roommates except us roommates did not care whose cat it was, they just like being entertained. Litter Box duty is 100% mine, as I demand (mom does not have the arm strength or balance), but out of all the caregiver stuff I will be doing, this one will irk me every time.

Fwiw, a third cat is not an option. That’s a non-starter because all 4 in her bed is almost a sure bet because as you keep adding cats, there is that evil overlords thing and they will simply choose my mom’s bed. It will be like a Cat Clown Car with 35 cats coming out from under the blanket.

So there you have it. I don’t mind being mocked, trolled, or even being ignored. I just hope there is one or two that take the time to read it and give me a sentence or two replies. I absolutely don’t know what to do, but think I have to decide soon.



Sorry for the length!!
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Nebaug

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My condolences , I’m so so sorry. Sometimes seams that life is not fair. I’m not even going to pretend to understand how does it feel to lose both of them in such a short period. I think that you need to go and get your kitty and bond with her. You need companion more than anyone right now. Don’t feel bad. Give kitty couple days to calm down and start bonding , after you feel comfortable if you wish you can let her roam around the house. And yes, your needs can come first at least for a while. :)
 

rubysmama

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CatDaddio CatDaddio : I just read your entire novella, word for word, and first off want to offer my condolence for your recent losses of both your brave wife, and your precious Kitty. :alright: I can't imagine how shocking it must have been to lose Kitty so soon after your wife.
RIP sweet Kitty. :hearthrob::angel::hearthrob:

As for your current situation, it's a difficult one to advise on. As I read your novella, and came to the part with Harley and Kitty Too, I was bracing myself to read that Harley hated Kitty Too, and that there'd been aggression or fighting. So it was a relief when I read how well they'd bonded, because I've read enough threads here at TCS to know how stressful it is when 2 cats hate each other.

But I totally understand you feeling sad that the bond with Kitty Too and you isn't going as you wished. But it's only been a couple days, right. So maybe do some sort of compromise where Kitty Too gets to spend time with her feline big brother during the day, but at bed time she gets brought to your room for the night.

Maybe have yummy treats at bed time, so that Kitty Too associates your bedroom with good stuff.

Not ideal, but it's totally normal for cats to bond with each other. So I don't think it would be fair to separate them permanently. But she does need to bond with you, as well, because both Harley and your mom are elderly, so Kitty Too is someday going to lose them, so she needs to have a routine that doesn't include them 24/7.

Hope it works out for all of you. Again, condolences on your losses. Also good on you for taking on the care of your mom. It won't be easy, so I hope she appreciates it.
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi. I too am so sorry for your losses.

I think you possibly have a third choice - can you spend time in your mother's quarters to try to continue the bonding process with Kitty Too there? Giving her (and Harley, of course) treats, having play time with her and some cat toys, sweet talking to her, petting/cuddling her as she will let you, and so on. And a part of this third option - if Harley and your mother are mobile enough - would be for them and Kitty Too to join you at times in your living space as well - all the same kind of interactions. You really should start assuming the role of her primary food provider too - meaning that she needs to see that you are the one giving her food.

This all will allow for bonding time with Kitty Too and will help her to realize that she has two wonderful 'worlds' that she can come and go from. I think you might find that she will end up spending time with you the longer she is in your home. Right now, she has another cat to give her a level of familiarity to her 'old life' - under her circumstances, it is just part of her adaptation process in acclimating to her new home. At this moment, Harley is the most familiar thing to her in your home - until she gets more comfortable with the other aspects.

Just in case this TCS article has any tips you can use to help bond with Kitty Too - ignore the 'title' as I am in no way suggesting that she doesn't like you; it is just the way TCS chose to label the article's contents.
14 Cat Experts Reveal: How To Get A Cat To Like Me – TheCatSite Articles

I hope this third option approach is possible, as I do believe it will work overtime - you will just need some patience. Most pet parents who adopt a new cat find that patience is their best asset!!

P.S. Kitty Too is adorable!!
 
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iPappy

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I read your novella. And I'm just going to say it. You have an amazing writing style, and you should blog. I smiled, LOL'ed, felt sadness, and found myself nodding along in agreement/understanding at certain things.
I cannot even imagine what you're going through. We are granted many years with those we love on this Earth and when we lose not one, but two so close together, sometimes it feels like more than we can bare.
I have a thought, just from my own personal experiences. I've been dealing with some health related crap with my pets for the last year, and it's been a rough ride and sometimes still is. Lost my bottle baby cat last August, lost my PR man at work (he was a cat, BTW) in March shortly after the 1 year anniversary of a beloved friends death, and less than 2 months later my little "heart" dog was diagnosed with malignant cancer. I've noticed lately that my pets, and the pets I work with, are being a little stand offish with me. They don't hate me, they don't growl or bite or hiss, but they just kind of look at me a little unsure. Some days I feel a lot more encouraged than others, and those days are wonderful. They seem much more engaging. Some days, I just feel a little lost, and I notice during those periods, those animals will kind of pretend I'm not around. "Polite avoidance" is the best way I can think of to describe it. Some would say it's my energy, others would say pheromones, others would say I'm giving off anxious smells/vibes, but whatever it is or whatever you want to call it, I believe it's true and they're responding to whatever it is I'm putting out there.
I wonder if that's what is happening to you. You've been through some serious trauma. You did a wonderful deed adopting Kitty Too (I absolutely love that name, btw. What a sweet way to honor to Kitty, may she rest easy!).
I'm wondering about your situation vs. your moms situation. This is a huge adjustment for you both, but you've been through a serious loss and now have a different (positive!) life changing thing happening by her moving in. My guess is, from your Mom's POV, she's there with you, and probably feels a lot safer. Her cat is with her, and he feels safe as well. Maybe Kitty Too is picking up on that, and suspects maybe you're depressed or upset and wish to be alone. I'd definitely go with the idea mentioned by others of spending more time in your moms area. Hang out with her. Talk, laugh, and cry with her. Play some board games. (My own Mom and I get playing Yahtzee sometimes and it's a guaranteed way to get slap happy to the point of laughing through tears!) It might bring everyone together, and make the bonding process a lot more special and meaningful than you could have ever imagined or hoped for :)
I wish you all the best and more. You seem like a kind heart who has had way more happen in such a short period of time than they deserve. I hope things get better, and soon. :rock:
 

hybriseris

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First of all I would like to say that I cannot imagine the pain you're experiencing, and I find you exceptionally brave and admire your sense of humor with so much stacked upon you.

Secondly, I'll share my experience.

I got my cat Shadow when my Grandmother had a break with reality caused by her progressing dementia which caused her to be deemed unsafe to live on her own any longer. My Grandmother and I had a complicated relationship, but she loved this cat and he was her...well...shadow. I knew he couldn't go to some unknown fate, so I took him home with me and thus began a month of the two of us basically wishing the other would act a different way. He clearly wanted to be alone, and I wanted to be alone too, and yet we just...couldn't get away from each other.

What I think I was experiencing, looking back at that time, was a grief for my Mother who had lost her Mom in the way dementia steals, and the good childhood memories of my grandmother. My entire relationship with the cat was colored by what I needed from him, what I didn't need from him, what I wanted and what I hated. Obviously the situations are not the same, but I hear echoes of what I experienced - an animal coming in to our lives at a turbulent, emotional time, and what they mean to us.

It did take time for Shadow and I to bond. He preferred to be wherever I wasn't, and stuck to the security blanket of my guest room and bedroom for a few weeks. After a while he started spending more time with me and now we are GLUED to each other. I have had many pets in my life, but he ranks among the closest friends I've had. Which is amazing, considering how rocky our relationship started.

My best advice would be to let Kitty Too do as she pleases, and spend time with her and Harley with no pressure. It will let you spend time with your Mom as well. (As you can tell by my message, I understand that may not always be pleasant, but you'll have no regrets.) I would not be at all surprised if over the next few weeks, your connection and bond with Kitty Two will grow strong in its own way. Harley may be her version of security blanket. It's the rare cat who gets glued to a human right away after all.

You two will form a friendship. My advice is just to let it unfold, as difficult as that may be. In the mean time, as silly as it might feel, a stuffed animal at night might be a nice thing to hold!
 

Alldara

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I read your post word for word as well. I hope someday soon you will feel more peace with your memories and less pain. ❣

I don't have anything to add that is new from what the above kind posters said. All are very good pieces of advice. I found Churus good bribe treats.

You have a calm cat home right now, I wouldn't suggest a third cat. If you choose to adopt a second after Harley passes to be Kitty Too's friend then you might balance between a cat who is very cuddly and a cat who is social with other cats. I would risk adding any further turbulence in your life that a third cat could cause. I also was worried about cat aggression and am very happy to hear Kitty Too and Harley are friends.

Kitty Too will probably love to play with you. Her silly antics might brighten your spirits while you wait to bond to cuddles. (And a fuzzy blanket never hurts!)
 

maggiedemi

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I would go get kitty for some one on one time a couple times of day, and then let her hang out with your mom and kitty buddy the rest of the day. Then everybody is happy. Maybe you could even bond with older kitty too and have a snuggle session with both.
((Hugs for you all.))
 
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