Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
My boyfriend and I of seven years decided to go our separate ways when our lease is up in a month. We have two cats, one is 4 years old and the other is 2. They snuggle and groom each other and play all the time. He is taking the 4-year-old for sure because she picked him as hers years ago. The 2-year-old likes us both evenly, maybe me just the slightest bit more. Would be be traumatizing to them if he takes the 4-year-old and I take the 2-year-old? My initial reaction was not to separate them and let him take both but the more I sit here the more I want to take one. I am not thinking clearly as my father died two weeks ago and then I get this bomb dropped on me I am losing my significant other and my girls (the cats). Thank you for your honest insight.
Thomas: Before we even start, Michelle, we want to extend you our condolences and compassion during this really tragic time in your life. Even one of these things would knock most people on their butts, but to have three all at once? We’re amazed you’re still even functioning!
Bella: Ultimately we think it’s going to be best if the cats stay together since they seem to be a bonded pair. But maybe you can “borrow” the 2-year-old for a few nights to help you settle into your new place.
Thomas: If you and your ex do decide to temporarily split custody of the cats, it’s important for both of you to carefully monitor each cat’s behavior. If either of the cats starts acting strange, it’s time to call off the split-custody arrangement.
Bella: When you do bring the cats back together, hopefully they’ll be as glad to see each other as they ever were and they’ll welcome each other with open paws.
Thomas: If they seem to be hesitant or start acting weirdly, you’ll want to reintroduce them using this technique from feline behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett. (Even though this article says it’s for aggressive cats, you may find this helpful if the two cats don’t recognize each other because they’ll smell different from living in different houses.)
Bella: Please be sure that wherever you move is pet-friendly, because we think it’ll be a big help for you to have a cat or two around.
Thomas: As we mentioned in an earlier post, we’d strongly encourage you to adopt adult cats — their personalities are fully formed, and they may just have gone through a breakup of their own!
Bella: The wonderful thing about cats and people is that we can help each other get through those hard times, and when we’re going through similar things, we can take strength from one another.
Thomas: Back to the temporary custody thing, Michelle — you and your ex will know within a day if it’s going to work out or if the cats are pining for each other.
Bella: If the cats aren’t doing well without each other, bring the 2-year-old back to your ex, reintroduce them, and find yourself a wonderful furry friend of your own.
Thomas: How about you other readers? Would you recommend that Michelle go with temporary custody, permanent custody of one cat, or forget even temporary custody and adopt a new cat or two of her own when she moves to her new home? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.