I’ve Fallen In Love With A Cat I Can’t Adopt. Help!

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I noticed a gorgeous Siamese and tabby mix stray cat in my yard a few days ago.  He was scared to approach me for about a half of the day, then he came up to me crying this heart-aching “little and weak” meow. When he finally came up to me and rubbed against my legs, I could feel every bone in his little body. I sat with him in my yard for three hours while he ate and cuddled with me. After eating, he could not seem to get close enough to me. He put his head against me for minutes at a time, and I could honestly feel him saying “Thank you! Thank you!” I scooped him up and took him into my home, where I kept him in my basement, away from my other three cats, and started plumping him up. Took him to the vet, got tested for everything and got all his vaccinations. I spent about two weeks with him until I found a woman from PAWS to take him and help find him a home. I cried when I left him with her — the bond was quick so it tore me apart. I stopped by to see him the other day at the pet store where he was on display with other adoptable cats. I shouldn’t have.  He came to me slowly, sniffed my hand then put his head down and pressed against my face. I almost died right there. I know he has a good chance at a good home but I feel so torn up about leaving him there in a cage. Is there anything I can do to help myself with the feeling of guilt of having him get used to me then feeling like I just dropped him off with a stranger?

~ Mel

Siamese-tabby cat hybrid, (CC-BY-SA) by Alex Zelenko

Siamese-tabby cat hybrid, (CC-BY-SA) by Alex Zelenko

Siouxsie: Well, Mel, right now you’re dealing with one of the most difficult and painful parts of cat rescue. All humans involved in this world have had to face it.

Thomas: Mama certainly has: there are all kinds of cats she’s met that she would love to bring into our family, but she knows she can’t. Not because of us so much as because there’s just not enough room and Mama needs to be sure she can afford to take good care of us.

Bella: It’s hard not to feel guilty when a cat expresses such adoration and gratitude toward you for saving his life, and then you have to rehome him because you know it just wouldn’t work to keep him in your family.

Siouxsie: But please try not to feel bad. You went the extra mile — many extra miles, in fact! — to feed him, get him vetted, and then locate a no-kill rescue so he has the very best possible chance of finding an excellent forever home.

Thomas: As you pointed out in your letter (which we had to edit for length), there are so many people who don’t even think twice about dropping their cat off at a shelter regardless of whether or not that cat would be killed a few days later due to lack of space.

Bella: Your emotional pain means you have a heart. You’ve got nothing to feel guilty about.

Siouxsie: But we think what you’re experiencing in addition to the guilt is grief. You’ve developed a soul connection with this cat, and once you’ve done that, leaving him is bound to break your heart.

Thomas: We hope some of our readers involved in rescue and cat fostering will comment and discuss how they deal with their feelings when they have to separate from cats they’ve fallen in love with. They will probably be able to give you lots of support, because they know on a heart level what you’re going through, and they may have some tips from a foster carer’s perspective about how to cope with your feelings.

Bella: If it helps you at all, you may want to either go to the pet store where kitty is waiting to be adopted and talk to him: explain what you’ve done and why you’ve done it. Reassure him that you love him but you simply can’t bring another cat into your home right now. Tell him that you’ve brought him to PAWS because you know they’ll be able to help him find a wonderful forever home.

Siouxsie: Since you talked about being able to feel the emotions of this cat, if you think it’s too painful to visit him in person, why not just tell him this in your mind. Mama’s an animal communicator and she firmly believes that cats can hear us and understand what we transmit to them.

Thomas: Try thinking in pictures, too. Show this cat your other three cats and how they behave. Bring forth the feeling of talking to your partner and being told there won’t be any more cats in your household. Imagine your discussion with the woman from PAWS and the reassurance you got that they’d take care of him until he found a forever home, no matter how long that would be.

Bella: Sometimes the pain of doing the right thing hurts like crazy, Mel. But know this — you made a huge difference in this cat’s life, and because of you he has a chance to have many wonderful years with a family of his own. He clearly would have died, starving and miserable, if you hadn’t had the heart to step in and help.

Siouxsie: Oh, and of course, if for some reason you and this cat are meant to be together, it will happen some way. Good luck, Mel, and many blessings to you for your kindness and compassion.

  • http://savannahspawtracks.wordpress.com Savannah’s Paw Tracks

    Hi Mel, my name is Linda, I am Mom Linda to Savannah of Savannah’s Paw Tracks. I saw someone post an invite to come by and visit you (in the Cat Lady Coalition FB Group) and so thought I would offer you some support. We have one adult rescue cat, Savannah, who is very afraid, have had her 20 mos and still cannot pick her up without her running or struggling out of fear. You can read her blog if you chose. We volunteer at a no kill cat rescue where we found her, and we offered to do what we thought would be a short term foster of a cat who turned out to have hepatic lipidosis. Shorty story, we pulled him from death’s door…he suffered from being a ‘cat who loves too much’ meaning he cannot exist without being near a human…so when he was abandoned at our local kill shelter for “needing too much attention”…he began to be depressed, feeling abandoned. Our no kill rescue pulled him, but within a month his hepatic lipidosis condition manifested itself. My husband became so attached to Leo..as did I…but Savannah allows me to pet her and play with her more than she does her Dad as she fears men more. So Peter who is a cat guy, was over the moon in love with Leo….but Savannah was too afraid of him…after 2 1/2 (6 weeks tube feeding him) months we knew we could not keep him…our hearts are still broken, but we found him a perfect home. Only 40 minutes away…we visited him one month later and he is thriving. He even has his own blog now…http://leolandsv.com/

    I have included links to some of Savannah’s blog posts if you want to read some of the story. You have done just what we did with Leo…gave him another chance at life. You will feel better if you can find things you might do to help this kitty find his furrever home faster…and maybe then you will get to have input into what will make the perfect placement for him as we did with Leo. Sorry for the very long dissertation…but just want you to know “we” know how you feel…and you have done a wonderful thing even if you could not keep this sweet kitty…be well, Savannah and Mom Linda

  • Jewel

    Been there done that! 3 of mine are foster fails and the fourth a stray who showed up and refused to let me out of his sight much less leave. But now I’m at my limit and I have to let my fosters go, I too feel so guity about taking them in and then ‘dumping’ them so to speak. I have to remind myself that it truly is for their good, it’s crueler for me to keep them all and be unable to feed, offer affection and care for them. I just hope they know it and understand. I do explain to them that I love them, but they can’t stay, I’m just here to help them along the way until they find their homes. Then I tell myself that I can do more good for more cats by helping them in their time of need, keeping them safe warm and fed, and then sending them on down the road to their forever homes than I ever could by trying to keep them all – it’s hard because I’m such an animal lover, and there’s a lot of tears, but I can’t take any more into my home permanently and I know that this is a way I can continue to give to them. Just know that you made a huge difference in his world, and if he’s not meant to be yours, I know that his family will thank you for taking care of him for them too, because without your help they may not have found each other!

  • http://www.glogirly.com/ Glogirly and Katie

    Dear Mel,
    I don’t have any advice for you…there are others far more experienced and eloquent than me. But what you’ve done for this sweet cat is one of the most beautiful expressions of love and kindness I’ve read. Bless you. You’ve saved this life and given this cat a chance at a wonderful and happy life of his own.

    As a child of adoption, I can tell you that it is possible to get past the grief and celebrate the joy you’ve given unconditionally to this little soul.


  • http://www.cherrycitykitties.com Carolyn Kristof

    oooohhhh… that darned guilt. You’ve drummed up a wrong you’ve committed and are now holding yourself accountable and even punishing yourself a bit for this crime. The crime of what? Caring? Not ignoring him? Rescuing him and bringing him into your safe home? Getting his medical needs tended too? Getting him to a group that will surely help him find a forever home? Was it that you committed the crime of not adopting every cat in need that crosses your path? I’ll stand with you on that one… guilty as charged. You are not alone there, not by a long shot.

    You say you shouldn’t have stopped by the pet store and seen him in the cage. Let’s look at that a different way. Sure, those cages aren’t ideal, and can push our buttons. But those cages allow countless numbers of people who may never have had the opportunity to meet the countless kitties adopted from them. They are important places for kitties to temporarily hang out in. You know they are well cared for there and by spending a short time there, they have a much better chance at spending a long time in a great forever home.

    And how about that last part. That wrenching sadness of a head pressed hard into your hand. Perhaps the best way to look at that would be as a deep, sincere, trusting, knowing THANK-YOU. My guess is the reason that it touched your heart so deeply, is that that beautiful kitty meant it, that deeply.

    Blessings to you and this little soul you have given another chance to. Shed tears of joy the day you learn that he is happily with a family who will love him like you do.

  • http://www.sparklecat.com Sparkle

    Many years ago, my human and her boyfriend somehow wound up being responsible for rescuing a young cat and kept her at our home until someone stepped up to give her a good home. She was an awesome kitty, but she took over the house and while we three kitties dealt with it and didn’t complain or act out, it was clear we were not happy with her around. Plus four cats is a lot for my human – she likes being able to make sure we all get enough attention, and it is hard enough with three. But the day the humans took the cat to her new home was really hard for everyone! I think even the kitty cried when she found out she was being left behind! But she adjusted and eventually took over her new home and my human knew it was the best place for her. She still thinks about that kitty sometimes but without tears because she knows she did the right thing for her and for us.

  • http://www.random-felines.com Random Felines

    We have been fostering for years. So – first – THANK YOU for saving this boy. He needed help and you gave it to him. Part of being human is knowing your limits and then doing the best you can with what you have. Believe me that is can be so hard…..but you did what you could and found an organization willing to help you and help him.

  • jay sharpe

    think that most of us that have rescued cats face this, and it is very hard to let them go,
    however as long as there going to a living forever home it’s ok, it’s also ok to cry, im 68, and in the last couple of years have had to find homes for several cats, and kittens, and it was never easy to let them go
    i still think about them, but they are alive, and with people that love them, and that makes it ok.

  • Diane

    Oh, girl…I feel you. I am an animal lover…also known as the cat lady in my town. I currently have 8 cats and a large choc. lab—all rescued or taken in; because someone has to do it, and I love them so.
    It’s unimaginably hard to have to give one up, but sometimes that’s the only solution. He’s (your cat friend) beautiful and I’m sure someone will fall in love with him just as you did. Thanks to you and others who do all they can to rescue these abandoned babies.

    another lover of all animals

  • Mel

    Thank you all so very much for your kind words, support and words of wisdom. Its difficult with the way I look at things and difficult to comprehend why others don’t see it the same as I…what’s more important, making room (that you really do have) for a needy animal or that coat I want to buy. Then you look at all those trivial materialistic things and it puts things onto perspective I think. Then you think about it everytime you buy something and that’s where the guilt comes in, for me at least. I understand though that you can only do what you can and one day at time so again, thank you all for your understanding and for sharing your hardship and suggestions. I really appreciate the knowledge of not being alone with this terrible feeling.

  • Joanne Denny

    I to had the same experience while visiting my dad’s house in a wooded lake area with many homes. I had my cats on a back porch and this beautiful – looked just like your cat -cried and cried at the door, not a hungry hurt cry just I need somebody cry. Well, I could not not give her some food, because I could not bare to have her hungry. My 90 year old father telling me to shoo her away and “don’t feed that cat” so I had to sneak out and put food out for her. She slept on the front porch all day for a week and I think while I was staying with my dad that the cat that was visiting drove my cat away because we had moved and she felt she had no home.
    The cat I finally took to the Fluvanna Co. SPCA because I could not keep her because I had three cats already and was staying at my dad’s until I could move into my new house in NC. While I had this beautiful main coon long haired cat that head butted and was so sweet I stopped at houses on my dad’s street and knocked to see if anyone new her and no one did. I proceeded to the SPCA, crying all the way not caring if I lived or died because I had fallen in love with her too in a week!! I called my sister and cried and tried everybody I knew to see if they could take her and finally my brother who’s third cat passed away 2 months ago said he would take her. So, I went back to the SPCA and even though it was just 2 hours I had to check her out and foster her. My brother loved her and she slept in his bed, just as lovable to him as she was to me. We took her back to SPCA the next week to get her shots and guess what? She test slight positive for feline leukemia!! My brother could not take her back with his other two cats and mine had not been vaccinated against leukemia so she had to sit at the shelter, again I cried and became very depresses, my brother was so bummed he did not know what to do. I was angry, with god, that here she came into our lives a very very sweet cat and now would never get adopted etc. Long story I know, but she was taken to a sanctuary with a special habitat for cat with leukemia – 6 others with her, screened porch with purches and could stay the rest of her life and would have Vet care if she got sick. I am still bummed and sad when I talk about her. So I totally understand.
    In the mean time I have lost my Gabby a calico 15 yrs. old who could not take this cat on the front porch, I have moved to NC and still have not had any calls after putting 25 posters up around the lake..
    Does Janea still help with communication? My name is Joanne Denny, my email is: fjdenny1@msn.com I would like to find my Gabby, we have had her for 15 years. Thanks, a good luck to all the cat lovers who have a “heart”