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.
I havent been through this, I just wanted to say Good Luck to you Sarah xxxxx
When my roommate and I split, he took my cat and his cat. My cat had become more bonded to him and his cat! I was sad, but it what was best for Ed and Merv.
But there was drama when my boyfriend and I split. We had three cats–two were mine, and one was his. He took his, and Frankie, who was pretty young at the time (around 3) wanted a lot of games and attention. After three weeks, Frankie was dropped off back at my apartment for being “too needy.”
My other two cats have passed away, and Frankie is still here and not needy at all.
I agree with Dorothy! Having had over 30 kitties (rescues) over the past 35 years, and many BFFs, from my experience, the kitties are much more bonded together. I’ve rehomed (hard!) some of my rescues, and visiting them 6-12 mos (to allow them to bond with their new “parent/parents”), and fortunately for them, they didn’t even seem to remember me! That was a phew, and tho sad for me, I then realized that they had adjusted wonderfully. Whereas my kitties in my household, when a BFF dies (old age or disease), they sometimes never bonded with another kitty for a BFF in the household. So if kitties are bonded, I wouldn’t separate them. If they weren’t I wouldn’t be so concerned.
My suggestion, tho hard, let the kitties stay together. The one bonded to you, will bond to your soon-to-be ex (so sorry, know that’s hard, been there…) and you can then adopt a kitty that needs rescuing from a shelter or other. My vote always is rescues, middle-aged, that are the most challenging to get adopted out.
Fortunately I never had to go through a divorce, but it must be a terrible decision to make.
I HAVE been thru this and I feel deeply for you and so admire your depth of respect for “what’s best for the cats”. With all of the other feelings and details going on at this time in your life, I know it takes a lot to ALSO lose one more thing/person/critter. I chose to take only the older cat, KeeKee, I had brought with me into the relationship. My wife of 5 years kept her original older cat, Marble. There was also a dear, dear 2 year old cat that we had adopted together, Rogie. Rogie helped me thru some of the most difficult emotions I’ve ever experienced and we bonded strongly. But, Rogie and Marble also had a sweet bond and are both very social cats. To keep some peace during the moving-out process I decided that for me it was important to leave Rogie with my wife and her cat Marble. I was so emotionally spent, in felt an urgency to be away from the bad situations there, that I could not take one more difficult and painful discussion about what was right, best, fair. None of it is any of those. It was so painful for me to make that choice. Horribly so. But I know in my heart of hearts that Rogie would be fine and adapt to either placement. And she didn’t get along well with KeeKee my older cat. I still, after 3 years miss Rogie like crazy. My older cat KeeKee passed within a year of me moving. But life has a way of providing us with what we need. A stray kitten in a tree landed on my best friend’s shoulders during her daily walk one day. Tthat kitten ,Swatch, came to live with me. Then my parents could no longer take care of their cat, Aspen, and he came to live with me and Swatch. The two of them are like soul mates to each other. They were meant to be together, and with me. My heart if so full of love for both of them. I just send loving feelings and energy to Rogie and thank her for all she did for me when I needed her most. FYI, also check out Jackson Galaxy’s SpiritEssences website for remedies I used before and after moving my cat. It was a wonderful way to transition.
I too am becoming separated, we have 5 cats, but 4 of them are from the same rescue mission, and do everything together. Except my original cat and I will take her with me.
One is Ill and needs meds every other day, Im hoping my spouse can remember to give the cat his meds. Or he wont be able to walk. They are loving cats all with separate personalitys, I have to say at different parts of the day they tend to be with each one of us. they sleep part of the night with me and part with him. We sleep in separate areas of the house. They love his brushings and tummy rubs. I am planning on leaving the 4 here, as my new place is smaller and they will not have access to the large windows they have here, or be able to look outside at squirrel and such, as I will be on the second floor! I will visit them, but they will be his kitties.