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?
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.