Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
My husband and I are unfortunately getting a divorce. We have two cats, both about 4 years old. We don’t want them to be without each other, but I fear they will miss their “person” even more than they’d miss each other. When I sleep upstairs and my husband downstairs “my” cat sleeps with me and “his” cat with him. When he and I are in the same room watching TV or whatever, they’ll both be with us and that’s when they will snuggle together and groom each other. My husband’s cat cries for him when he goes to work. I feel like it’s not good to separate bonded cats, but that they may be more bonded to us than each other. How do I tell? What tips can you give me for making the separation from each other easier for them? Also, the true deciding factor is that one cat eats the other’s food all the time, so the skinny one won’t eat all day when we’re at work, and the chubby one will eat everything in the auto-feeder. We feel they’d be healthier weight-wise apart as well. We just don’t want them to be depressed and miss each other too much.
Thomas: Sarah, that’s so kind of you to be concerned about your cats in the middle of a divorce. Mama says there is so much going on emotionally during the process of divorcing that it speaks very highly of you that you want the best for your furry friends.
Bella: Since none of us here at Paws and Effect HQ have experience with divorcing and splitting custody of cats, we reached out to one of Mama’s friends who’s going through something very similar right now.
Tara: She and her husband recently got divorced, and when she moved out, she took one of the family’s three cats with her.
Thomas: She told us that the cat she took with her was the one who was most bonded with her, and she left her ex-husband’s cat (the one most bonded to him) and one of the other cats at his house. “My cat got along with the other cats, but he was more bonded to me than he was to them,” she told us.
Bella: Then she said, “When we first moved, I could tell my cat was lonely. I do believe he missed the others and still does; however, I think he’s be worse off if he were away from me.”
Tara: That sounds kind of like the situation you have, where your cat is extremely bonded to you and the other cat is extremely bonded to your husband. In that case, we think it would be better for each of you to keep the cat who is the most bonded to you.
Thomas: They will miss each other at first, especially since it sounds like they’ve been together their whole lives, and you may see some signs of the stress of missing each other. They might look around for one another and so on.
Bella: But in the long run they’ll be better off because the stress of the end of your marriage and everything that led up to it has also been hard on them. I know that as long as Mama is okay, I can deal with any changes in my life, and I bet your cat feels the same way about you and your husband’s cat feels the same way about him.
Tara: Once you’ve settled into your post-divorce life, you might consider adding another cat to your family if your kitty is lonely. But we wouldn’t recommend doing that until you and your husband have the divorce all settled and everyone has moved into their “new normal.”
Thomas: In the long run, we think it will be fine if each of you keeps “your” cat. As Mama’s friend said to us, “Everyone is adjusting. I think it depends on how strong the bond is between the human and the cat.” And it sounds like the bond between human and cat in this situation is the one that’s the strongest.
Bella: And separating the cats will help each one get to a healthy weight, too.
Tara: What about you other readers? Have you gone through a divorce or breakup and had to split custody of the cats in the family? How did it work out for you and your kitties? What did you do to make it easier for your cats, and what do you wish you had done? Please share your answers in the comments.