Advice for adopting shelter cat

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Nameless
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Advice for adopting shelter cat

Post by Nameless » Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:30 am

Warning, wall of text
hello,
I would like to ask for advice about adopting shelter cat.
Myself: live in one EU country alone in a flat, never had cats before. Perfect cat: tabby, >1 (or better, >2) years old, quiet (i.e. not turning flat upside dow), absolutely no disabilities (like without one eye or leg), absolutely no Corona virus, FIV.
Time: I have been visiting shelters, checking their FB - for over a year. Checking FB status several times a day. Going to almost every "open doors day".
Situation: I have visited all major shelters in my city.
Results were epic failure. Cat pays no attention. Cat is nice, I think about it, come back later - to discover cat has been taken. Cat scratches or bites me (no, I cannot differ love bite from non-love bite). Cat is almost nice, yet has corona virus. Cat pays some attention, yet is one-eyed.
When I enter shelter (which may contain from 10 to 20-30 cats) I usually greet cat, like "hi, cute kitty", let her smell my hand, trying to pet. Yes, I sometimes look at tail movements, from side to side being considered as danger. No, I do not maintain eye contact. If cat allows, I may try to take her on my hands, if cat does not want - ok, let her go.
So far I was not noticed by even those cats that I may like. Example of cat expressing attention: cat almost ignores stranger A, yet jumps on person B's knees; cat approaching stranger, purring and demanding to be taken on knees, when taken - she 'makes biscuits'. Friends told about stray cat that followed stranger, almost hugging his leg and following him. Side not: first situation - adopted by person B from shelter; second situation - adopted by stranger, not me, from shelter; third situation - adopted.

I have made some homework. Yes, cats are not perfect and may show some not-so-bright side. No, accidental scrach on furniture or the fact this nice pot flew down because cat accidentaly dropped it, is not a problem. No, I won't declaw cat, I won't beat or otherwise torture her. Yes, I know cat needs to play and if I do not play at daytime, cat may play at nigh - and I cannot complain. Yes, cat requires special food, not leftovers from table. Yes, cat may be hiding for a month after she arrives to home, and cat is not to be disturbed, she is adapting. Yes, cat is independent creature, she may not be willing to play when i want and I must be patient. No, can't must not follow me everywhere or enjoy every single step of mine, cat is not dog. No, I do not want to play lottery, like "pick a cat that matches your physical criteria and grow it up" - if it's tabby and short-haired, take it, no matter anything else. Yes, i know cat may change after brought home, yet somehow I do not believe cats tend to become worse.

My problem is that I do not have much time. If there is nice cat and I turn to "oh, nice one, let us visit her again" - cat is usually taken. I do not wish to traumatise cat, like take from shelter, hold for 2 weeks and return; shelters I know won;'t be happy about such practice. I could try to give temporaly house for a shelter cat, but so far no shelter asked for shelter for adult less or more friendly cat.

I could reconsider some things about perfect cat. If cat shows me attention, I could rethink hair colour or even some minor physical things.

Yet no cat shows me attention. They mostly allow to be petted or even taken on hands, but nothing more.

Entire year passed, lots of days spent on FB, shelters visited...and nothing happens. I do need some experts' advice. First: what am doing wrong? Second: how do I pick a cat from shelter if there are, say, 5 tabbies here, given that time is not on my side?

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Re: Advice for adopting shelter cat

Post by Ruth B » Tue Nov 27, 2018 1:05 pm

Welcome to the forum and while I know it can take a while to find the right cat, it does seem you really haven't had much luck.

My first suggestion would be, of all the shelters you have visited, chose one you are happiest with, where you are happy that the cats in their care are well looked after and where staff can give them the time and attention they need. Then talk to the staff there, tell them what you are looking for, as you are looking for an older cat, over 2 years of age preferably there should be plenty to choose from.

When first meeting them most cats will be a bit standoffish or shy, so it is worth listening to staff members as to what the cat is normally like with them, it is quite probable that once the cat gets to know you they will be friendly even if they weren't in the shelter. If they keep trying to get you to take one that is obviously outside your criteria, for example showing you lots that have only one eye, then move onto a different shelter, they should be trying their best to match the cat to the owner, not just getting rid of the difficult to home ones. Some shelters might also have waiting lists so they can contact you if a cat they feel would suit you comes in.

Finding a Tabby may be causing a little bit of a problem, Tabbies, along with tortoiseshells, gingers, and other 'pretty' marking go quicker, i'm not sure about your country, but in the UK most shelters find black cats or black and white cats far harder to rehome. Tabbies are a coat marking not a breed, so there is no guarantee that a tabby will have the temperament you are looking for the same way a specific breed might.

My final comment is regarding Coronavirus. I am assuming that you are against a cat that has tested positive for it due to the chance of it becoming FIP. I will agree that FIP is a terrifying diagnosis for any cat owner, however most cats with Coronavirus do not get FIP. Coronavirus itself is very common, affecting about 40% of cats generally, and up to 80% of cats in multicat households or in shelters due to the proximity of other cats and the ease with which it can be passed along. A lot of shelters in the UK don't even bother testing for it as there is no way to tell whether a cat with Coronavirus will go on to develop FIP or not. The other consideration is that in most cases when it does become FIP the cat is under 2 years old, most often it occurs in kittens under 6 months old. So if there is a cat that is perfect in every other way and is over 2 years old, but has Coronavirus, it might be worth thinking about.

I do hope you can find your perfect cat soon and I'm sure you will have many happy years together when you do.

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Re: Advice for adopting shelter cat

Post by Lilith » Tue Nov 27, 2018 1:30 pm

Seconded, but I'd just like to add, there is no such thing as the perfect cat - but they bring so much love with them that, whoever you choose, it will be perfect :D

No matter how horrible it can be on occasion (I'm scowling at my horrible awful darling beloved Molly as I write.) Grrr lol.

Also, it could well be that the cat will choose you - and you won't stand a chance, whatever it looks and behaves like. This has been my fate for over 19 years ... they just moved in, or were forced upon me, to my alarm and also joy ...

Good luck in your search and please let us know how you go on :)

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Re: Advice for adopting shelter cat

Post by Kay » Wed Nov 28, 2018 12:17 am

Personally I wouldn't be drawn to a cat which is really friendly to me, a stranger, because that cat will be like that with everyone, and will easily find a new home

I would be drawn to the shy withdrawn cat, because when I win her round, perhaps over several weeks or even months, I know she will be devoted only to me - and I would know that just as she will be special to me, I will be special to her because I didn't walk past her like everyone else

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Re: Advice for adopting shelter cat

Post by Janey » Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:25 am

People say that cats choose you, well my current cat did that, she left her home and kept coming to us because she must have preferred the environment. We ended up taking her on and she’s very loved here. However, we didn’t intend getting another cat for a while, having lost a few cats in recent years, due to adopting oldies. So previously my choice of cat has been the older cat at the cattery who probably doesn’t come out to be stroked, had lost their owner after many years, who probably doesn’t look all that pretty to some people, or has some disability or illness, or lashes out for no reason, the cat who was found straying in a sad way, or , basically the cat who no-one else wants. Although they may take longer to settle in, they usually turn out to be the most loving cats and we form a special bond, that’s just me though. Very often you really don’t know what you’re getting until they settle in, but will love them all the same.

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Re: Advice for adopting shelter cat

Post by Marla » Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:58 am

Coronavirus: I agree with what's been said previously.

"absolutely no disabilities (like without one eye or leg)": What happens if your cat has an accident or health issues and loses an eye or leg? Or gets a disease?

What happens when your perfect cat throws up a hairball for the first time? All of our cats (both shorthaired and longhaired) have had occasional hairballs. It's not pretty!

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Re: Advice for adopting shelter cat

Post by Nameless » Mon Dec 10, 2018 7:42 am

Thanks for advices.
I started to think how do I feel at shelter, something I never asked myself earlier (thanks to this forum!).
Visited one shelter. Way less cats, probably government institutions forced to reduce so that cats have more space. And then some trolling began.
Almost tabby cat. A boy. Looked nice at photo, looks nice in real life. No attention to me, description on shelter facebook told he preferred ladies, not men. Tried to talk, to pet - no results, just back turned to me.
Black hair, yellow-eyed cat in a cage. Very active, meowing all the time, demanding attention. Not sure about age, it did not matter. Would surely find an owner. Could I be one? Maybe. I would really like to see how that cat behaves out of cage. Even if it's black and without green eyes.
Tricolor cat (white-yellow-black) nearby. Active, demanding attention with strange voice, it does not say "meow", some sound that sounds like angry. A bit jealous, I guess (when i petted cat nearby this one started to require attention). Big one, could fit me, though am a bit scared of his/her behaviour.
Tabby. Really big one. Passive, like "pet me if you want". Looks really nice, though has some illness (sorry, cannot translate to English).
White-and-black cat. Initially cautious, later allowed to be petted, at some point cought my hand with all 4 legs abnd started to bite. Biting was not serious (no injuries), but I cannot differ "love bite" from "just bite".

Temporaly result: my ideal cat may be not tabby, even black could fit. Even without green eyes. Maybe even with long hair. Yet - absolutely no feeling "wow, this is MY cat", no feeling like "disgusting: this is NOT my cat".

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Re: Advice for adopting shelter cat

Post by Ruth B » Mon Dec 10, 2018 8:50 am

It does sound like you are getting somewhere and I'm glad you have found a shelter you feel happy at, hopefully the cats you are interested in will still be there when you visit again. There are a few pointers i can give about the ones you describe.

The Boy almost Tabby cat. He might just be nervous around strangers, a lot of human body language, looking directly at a someone, reaching out, can be taken as signs of aggression by cats. That he turned his back to you might just be his way of saying 'if I ignore you maybe you won't attack me', cats like this come out best if you ignore them when you visit, sit quietly, possibly with a few treats laid out near you and see if he will come to you, or as you say it could be that he knows you are not the person for him.

The black cat sounds like it could be a good match if it is friendly out of the cage. I'm not sure about your country but in the UK Black cats are notoriously hard to home, they aren't pretty and photogenic so people pass them by rather than seeing what their temperament is like.

The Tricolour, I would assume is what in the UK is know as a Tortoiseshell, a mix of ginger (orange) and black, with or without white parts. They are almost invariably female, they are also renown for being characters. It could be that the one you saw was jealous and was demanding your attention for herself. Again you would want to see her out of the pen to judge her character properly, but she could suit you well.

The tabby with the illness really depends on what the illness is. It would be worth having a talk with the shelter about the condition and what it involves, if you know a vet you can talk to, even if you have to make an appointment to chat to them they could also advise you. The internet can also be very good for researching an illness but make sure you look at several sites to get a clear picture of what is involved.

The Black and White sounds like it was playing with your hand the way it would with a toy. If the bites weren't painful and it stopped when you wanted it to then it would probably be fine. Kittens learn how hard they can bite when playing with their litter mates, ones that can be more problematic are ones that have been taken from the litter too early or have been only kittens, they often play a bit rough to start with and have to be taught to play nicely. However it might be worth checking the age of the cat, you did mention you wanted one 2 - 3 years old, if it is still willing to play that quickly it might be younger than you would prefer.

Hopefully that will help you decide whether any are right for you, or maybe when you visit again there will be others that catch your eye.

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Re: Advice for adopting shelter cat

Post by Nameless » Sun Dec 30, 2018 6:44 am

An update with a bit of trolling.
One of the largest shelters in my city. Big complex, lots of cats. Almost all have Corona virus.
Corona room. Yeah, room where Corona cats run freely (no cages). 2 tabbies, these pay attention only to themselves. 1 white cat - deaf one, this shows some attention. Grey and white cat: pretty, yet shows some agression (white one walks nearby, he kind of attacks her with paw). Black-and-white one - little attention.
And then white-and-black. Friendly. Easy to hold in hands. Enjoys when I pet him, looks like actively seeks petting.
Second visit with my friend. White-and-black is active - purrs, demands to be petted, shows no agression, sits on my legs and sometimes get there without any help.
I asked to reserve for 2 weeks. Going to go there as often as I can. Talk to cat, pet him, see how it does.
White-and-black is nice. Friendly. Adult ("3-5 years"). No agression. I was scared about Corona. One volunteer explained I should wash my hands before going outside, then desinfecate my boots. Oh my, that is goling to last for every visit outside within next [minimum] 10 years? Shelter leader told having Corona cat is no different than having normal one, no extra precautions.
I am a bit uneasy now. I am going to have a cat. Black and white, hopefully - friendly cat demanding much attention ("pet me here..and there...and over here, good, one more time..."). What I cannot think about - are first days. Let us think I take cat at the end of Friday. Saturday, Sunday I am with cat. Then it's Monday, I have to go to work and leave cat alone. What would happen then? Question about strategy pops up too: where to place food? where to place litter box and scratcher?

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Re: Advice for adopting shelter cat

Post by Ruth B » Sun Dec 30, 2018 10:09 am

It sounds like you have found a very nice young cat there.

At that age the Corona Virus is very unlikely to cause a problem. As far as the hand washing and boot disinfecting goes, I think that is a probably a bit over cautious, I would agree with the shelter leader that you don't need to behave differently with a Corona cat than one that doesn't have it. In a shelter they have to be more careful not to spread it to any other cats in their care so I would assume the person that told you to wash your hands and disinfect your boots was thinking about what they have to do at the shelter. If you are visiting a friend that has a cat it might be worth washing your hands and giving your boots a wipe over before you leave, but that would be the only time I would even think it necessary.

You do need to have a think about where to put everything. Litter trays, water bowls and food bowls should be in separate areas of the room. The scratching post should be sturdy enough that an adult cat won't pull it over, if a cat feels that it is wobbling when they try and pull at it they will find somewhere else to maintain their claws. Some cats like vertical scratches some like horizontal ones. I have one that is firmly screwed to a wall and a cardboard one that the cat sits on to scratch at so the cats own weight holds it down, both have proven popular, just make sure that you get one that is large enough for an adult cat, so many seemed to be aimed at kittens.

It sounds like you are getting there taking it slowly and thinking it through is a good thing.

I will also add that at 3 - 5 years old most cats will cope fine with being left alone while you are at work, they will either spend their time sleeping or watching out of windows.

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Re: Advice for adopting shelter cat

Post by Miabrevera » Fri Mar 15, 2019 1:37 pm

Before putting them up for adoption, many shelters test cats for two serious and potentially fatal communicable diseases, feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). If the shelter from which you are adopting does not test for these illnesses, take your cat to a veterinarian to be tested before allowing her to share a litter box or have contact with other cats in your home. As part of a regular exam, the vet will also check your cat for fleas, ticks and mites. If your cat shows signs of illness, such as runny eyes, sneezing, or diarrhea, separate her from the other cats in your home until she is treated and has a clean bill of health.

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Re: Advice for adopting shelter cat

Post by Nameless » Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:06 am

Me again after some hiatus.
White-and-black found a home quickier thant I managed to return. Saw him leaving shelter with new owner.
Now, situation unfolds in interesting way.
Shelter. Room number 1. Five cats: 2 white ones, very shy. One black: one-eyed, really dominating, requiring attention, enjoying throwing flowers down. Two tabbies. Tabby1: big, nice, green eyes. Tabby 2: older, little, yellow eyes.
I stopped at tabbies.
Tabby1: first visit- no interest in me.
Tabby2: allowed to be petted, purred a bit. Acted bit independently, like "ok, you may pet me...untill I decide to hide over here".
Neither tabby enjoyed being lifted on hands.
Returned second time, it was their feeding time, every all but white cats fought for attention, like "gimme gimme, gimme more". Even Tabby1. I tried to focus attention on Tabby2. She allowed petting, purred, when I managed to pet her in some right way - closed her eyes, almost smiled.
Yesterday was third time. Same situation. This time Tabby2 thought I was petting wrong way, so very carefully (no damage!) hit my hand, then maybe two times something like "love bites". Tabby2 clelarly shows she knows and likes scratching pad - a quality I do appreciate.
I asked local volunteer about Tabby2, how does she look to volunteers? Answer was - well, she's old (maybe 8 years...bit old for me), one who is passive, enjoys "face control" (i.e. sitting at window and staring at visitors). One who is always passive.
--
My impressions: Tabby2 is old - that's not a problem, I may do my best to guarantee quality life for her, being loved and cared about. She does know scratching pad which is really important for me. The fact she doesn't enjoy lifting - not a problem. Sometimes she even asks (a little) for petting. Last time she laid on the floor, showing me her belly, her legs almost forming "x" (not sure how is it called in English), when I tried to touch her - she sharted to "hunting" my hand (hold with all 4 legs and then probably bite).
I guess she does not know how to play with toys - little room has 5 cats and only 1 toy (ball for dogs).
What she does - is kind of passive behaviour. Like - "Ok, I sit here, you may pet me there and there". She's not one who (I think) would greet me when I return, she's not talkative. Yet, since she is passive, she won't be destroyer of my flat.
I am at some 60% for adopting Tabby2. 40% - not sure if that's my cat. Asked my friend telling - I have three options: a) wait for cat with love from first sight/meow/purr; b) darn it, abandon Tabby2; c) darn it, adopt Tabby2.
Friend adviced option C.
I asked in one chat, they told me option B.
Feeling bit lost...

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Re: Advice for adopting shelter cat

Post by fjm » Wed Mar 27, 2019 11:21 am

I think it can be very hard to tell an animal's true personality in the stressful conditions of a shelter, no matter how hard the shelter tries. It is therefore always going to be a bit of a gamble, although a cat that is genuinely relaxed under shelter conditions (as opposed to being shut down and non-reactive) is likely to relax quickly in the calmer atmosphere of most homes.

Grabbing your hand when you touched her tummy is completely usual for a cat - where dogs roll over as a sign of placation (smell me, I am just a harmless puppy) with cats it can be anything from an invitation to play to a defensive/offensive fighting ploy, so you really need to look at what else the body language is telling you. I like that Tabby 2 has learned how to communicate with humans and how to inhibit her bites and scratches - important when you are taking on an adult.

At eight years old, she may be with you for 10 years so if you decide to take her it is a long term commitment. I think you need to listen to both your heart and head, this is a decision only you can make. Does your heart lift when you think of bringing her home, or do you have a sense of disappointment that she is not the cat you really want?

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Re: Advice for adopting shelter cat

Post by milesdavid » Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:12 pm

Yes, I agree. We cannot really look a cat's true personality through a shelter. By bonding with each other through times, I'm sure every cat would be lovely. What we need is patience and much love.

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Re: Advice for adopting shelter cat

Post by Nameless » Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:15 am

Thanks for advice. I would go for yet another rendez-vouz with Tabby2. Not so much privacy when there are +2 cats requiring attention, but...
There was only one cat in my life I really was excited about, I thought about her, waited for her to appear: feral one that died. When she was not to be seen, I worried; I enjoyed her being on my knees and purring, enjoyed her "making biscuits". After her no other cat makes me feel such feelings.
I am thinking on Tabby2, like - "how would she feel at home?", "where would she sleep?", "how would she play with cat toys (guess she never did that in shelter)?". I also think how would I care about her (do NOT think how she would pass one day).

My friend advice me to adopt. If I wait for "love from first meow", I may wait for another 2, 5 or 22 years. Tabby2 is nice, even if passive.

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Re: Advice for adopting shelter cat

Post by milesdavid » Thu Mar 28, 2019 3:41 pm

Hey that's great, send a lot of purrs for Tabby2

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Re: Advice for adopting shelter cat

Post by Ruth B » Thu Mar 28, 2019 4:36 pm

I personally think Tabby 2 could be a very good choice.

At 8 years old she has seen enough of life to understand its ups and downs and I think her passivity might be a way of coping with a strange environment and a group of strange cats. She obviously wants attention and enjoys a fuss and is happy to gently teach you just what she likes. If she is grabbing your hand when on her back like that I think she is still young enough to enjoy playing a bit with the type of kick toy that she can grab and 'kill'.

Do the shelter know anything about her past, if she has had a happy settle life for the last 8 years and then suddenly been taken from there (for whatever reason), put in a strange room full of strangers, with people she doesn't know coming to feed and pet her it would come as rather a shock to her system. Once settled in a home, with a one on one relationship I think she would flourish again.

Let us know your decision and how you get on.

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Re: Advice for adopting shelter cat

Post by Nameless » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:54 am

Tabby2 is now a choice. Visited her few times, last time - yesterday.
She was sitting in other cat's cage, doors open. Looked like she responded to me - went closer, wanted to be petted. She enjoyed when I was petting her a bit below her ears. For some reason did not like petting at the top of head: I received few very small, painless bites. Perhabs that's how she was trying to say - "Sorry, did not like it". She was on her back, but this time I did not go for "catch human's hand" game, it may hurt...
I still wonder how would she behave at home where there would be no other cats, no scent of other cats, she would be one and only. Am bit worried how would she live when I would be at work (let us say, I spend full Saturday and Sunday with her...then Monday, I have to go) - would she stress, would she be worried etc? So far no ideas.
My plans: ask what exactly food she is given, if she plays with toys (or played)...and then try to adopt her.

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Re: Advice for adopting shelter cat

Post by Ruth B » Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:43 am

I'm glad you've managed to make a decision and found a cat you like.

Some cats are odd about where they like to be stroked and scratched so it could be she just likes it behind the ears rather than between them, however it would be worth mentioning to the staff and have her checked to make sure there is no sign of injury in that area. It could also be that at some point in her past someone hit her there so she is wary of hands touching her in that place, if that is the case then when she starts to trust you and realises that you aren't going to hurt her she will probably relax and let you stroke her between the ears.

At 8 she is a nicely mature cat, but she could well live for another 10 years with you looking after her. Adult cats spend a lot of their time asleep, 18+ hours isn't unusual, so when she gets used to your routine she will learn to spend most of her time, while you are out, asleep, a younger cat would have more problems adjusting. If you are concerned could you take a couple of extra days off work just after you get her and then go out for an hour on the first day you have her and over the next couple of days increase the length of time you are gone to break her into your work routine slowly. A lot of cats live perfectly happy lives with people who work full time so there is no reason to think she won't adjust.

Let us know how you get on with her and what she ends up being called, just referring to her as Tabby 2 all the time doesn't seem right if you do end up adopting her.

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Re: Advice for adopting shelter cat

Post by Nameless » Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:13 pm

Short note: her official name is "Marshmallow". Does not respond to one, not sure how would I name her. Probably - Marshmallow*...


*in my language we could name like "he-Marshmallow" and "she-Marshmallow". So, this cat would be "she-Marshmallow", even if she is neutered.

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Re: Advice for adopting shelter cat

Post by Hipkit » Fri Apr 26, 2019 10:20 pm

Do you have a garden for her to go into? It would be nice for her to go outside if you live on a quiet road. Have the rescues that you're considering homing from done a home check?

From some of your posts, I had the impression that you should get a goldfish instead: you seemed to be looking for too much perfection. Cats are individuals, they all have their faults and greatness. Tolerance is necessary in order for them to be happy. Yes, they'll scratch the furniture, and you, sometimes. But you'll live and furniture can be replaced. They become ill and need to see a vet, which is expensive and then they need your nursing care (which they might try to resist). A cat I once had lost an eye through corneal ulcer. Your cat may be disabled at some point; will you just reject her then?

It's obvious from your posts that you have little experience with cats. Be certain that you understand what you're taking on. This isn't a toy, but a life, and a long committment.

Sorry for the lecture, but I feel this has been lacking from this thread.

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