When Adoption is Not the Answer

We almost had a new kitten in our family this week.

I know, I know, I know. Everyone that has been following my Twitter feed for the last year must be completely exasperated right now. Even if you only checked in once or twice, you probably know that I almost brought home a kitten approximately 8,760 times in the last twelve months. Every time I came close, something held me back.

It’s kind of silly. In January I wrote a post outlining some of the reasons I was even considering bringing a new animal into our home. January. It is now November and I am no where further along in my decision-making process. Or at least I wasn’t until recently.

I cannot deny that guilt was one of the largest factors pressuring me into bringing another cat home. Our shelters are inundated with stray and abandoned cats every year. Due to breeding, the spring and summer are the worst. Every single shelter and rescue in the province is full to capacity for most of the year, leaving many cats to fend for themselves outside. If I could help alleviate the burden, even by taking in just one little kitten, I would feel like I was doing my part. It would feel like I was helping in a truly meaningful way.

So I thought about it. Then I talked about it. Then I thought about it some more. The thing is, my PH was not able to offer any constructive advice. If it were up to him, we would have at least four dogs and eight cats by now – whether we had the space or not. The decision was my own to make. I kept putting it off.

Maybe next month, I’d think. When we’re not so busy. The next month would come and I’d hesitate because things would be just as crazy. Maybe when we finally get some holiday time, I’d say. Perhaps in the fall. It’s practically winter now and still no cat.

Excellent. More beer for me.

This past week things finally came to a head. The opportunity was right in front of me to adopt a six-month old grey-and-white darling. Fully grown at four pounds, she is wee but she is also fiesty. The exact personality I would desire in a feline. Accepting of other cats and dogs, this young cat is extremely playful and smart. She appeared to be food motivated as well, which means she could be clicker-trained. Within a few months I’d probably have her walking on a leash. This cat is perfect for me and my goals in every single way. And yet something still held me back.

I’ve learned over the years to trust my instincts. When I don’t feel completely right about something, I try to figure out why. There was a little gremlin making weird noises in the back of my brain every time I thought about taking this kitten home. Even when I said it would just be for one night, just to see if she got along with our other pets. It still felt wrong.

The answer is now clear. When I decided I wanted to adopt a dog, the decision wasn’t an easy one but it felt natural. I was excited about the prospect. Though a little nervous, I knew I was up for the challenge. We had the time and the money and the determination. I was as ready as anyone could ever be. It is obvious, I am still not ready to adopt a second cat.

There are several reasons:

1. We can’t really afford it. It will be hard enough now if one of our pets has unexpected medical problems. Taking on a third is a financial burden we’re probably not ready for.

2. Our current living situation will be changing in the spring. It’s hard enough finding a place to rent with two animals. It might be best to wait until things have stabilized.

3. Time. I constantly feel guilty for not spending enough of my energy playing with Shiva and The Cat. Is it really fair to bring in another pet I won’t be able to devote myself to?

So for now, I am going to put off all thoughts of adopting a second cat and focus on doing more with the one we already have. I’ll still feel bad for not doing more to help the massive over-population issue, but sometimes NOT adopting is the right thing to do. Sometimes thinking twice about bringing an animal home is actually more beneficial in the end. Cats are abandoned in large numbers across my region every single day. If their previous owners had just said no to bringing home a new pet, they would be a lot better off.

Which of course means my cat is going to have to put up with my training attempts. I will get him to wear that leash. Oh yes. Mwahahahahaha!

ETA: Don’t worry about the fate of the spunky little kitten. Right after I decided not to adopt her, someone else did. If that isn’t a sign, I don’t know what is.

17 thoughts on “When Adoption is Not the Answer

  1. My husband has to be that voice that says no. Otherwise I think we would be broke with 8 dogs by now. I am impressed with your ability to do the adult thing and say no to a cute furry face. When you are ready you will certainly give a lucky kitty a great home.


  2. How very true. I didn’t even hesitate much when bringing home Martha (my cat) or Pallo (my second dog). When I got Koira (my first dog), I did think long and hard about it. But, I was a college student who was only gone from the house a maximum of five hours at a time, and had, if not tons of money, plenty for both me and my cat and a new dog to all live off of.

    I actually did adopt a second cat before I brought Pallo home. He was a total dear, very friendly and loving. But, I spent enough time away from the house that he was always desperate for attention. When a friend of mine was looking for a second cat to have in their house of 6 people, where the current cat had almost constant attention and someone was home almost all the time, I introduced them to Laz. Now, he has been living with them for over two years and seems to totally love it. If at any point they can’t keep him, he will come back to live with me again. But he likes it there best.


  3. Hi, I think that you made the right decision. There’s no sense making a decision like that, that could potentially make everyone worse off rather than better off. There’s four us and then an owie happened in my back and my dad had to give up his car cause there’s only so much to go around and they decided that I needed help more. So we all understand. I’m trying to convince my mom to get a cat for me. I like cats and would like my own little buddy.


  4. Have you considered fostering? It’s not permanent and a good rescue will cover most of the expenses (vet care & food at least). You get to free up room at a shelter for another cat. Just some food for thought…


  5. Great post Kristine. I think we all have been there before. I know I have. I never would have kept Jasper if it had not felt right. Sometimes saying no is braver than saying yes.
    So glad the kitty got adopted!


  6. I agree that all the stars in the universe need to line up and all the feeling need to be right before making a 12-15 year commitment. I wish people would give thought instead of sometimes making impulse decisions that they can’t live up to.


  7. I nearly adopted a 2-mo old puppy just recently. my parents of course said not until I move out… which makes all the sense in the world. But, I tell ya, I was so attached to the idea I nearly drove down to see the little guy. I even named him. Ugh. He didn’t get adopted until four days after arriving and I checked on him every few hours until he was. I was completely convinced he was supposed to be mine. sigh.


  8. I don’t visit shelters and don’t look at Petfinder for that very reason; I KNOW we can’t even foster right now, let alone adopt, and the guilt would kill me.

    Being a real animal lover is hard sometimes. 😦


  9. Those sweet little kitties are so hard to resist – I swear I would have a houseful if I could afford to care for them all!! It’s nice that you have the awareness to know when something doesn’t feel exactly right, I’m sure that serves you well 🙂 You’ll know when the time is right!!


  10. I think we’ve all been there! Heck, I’m there right now. If I could win the lottery between now and Thanksgiving, we’d be bringing home two puppies instead of one because I am completely smitten with Kuster’s little sister. I know I don’t have the money for it, though, and then Morgan had to show out this week and remind me about why I love the Greyhounds so much, too!


  11. If something keeps holding you back, there must be a reason. But, on the other hand, if you keep thinking about it, there must be a reason too. LOL! I know, no help from me.

    I’m just as bad – I always find myself looking on petfinder, and I’ll see a dog that I fall in love with, and then I talk myself out of getting it, because the house is too tiny, the vet bills seem continuous, etc., etc., —- yet I’ll look again the next week. Why? I don’t know. I think it is a sickness…


  12. It’s hard, sometimes, listening to that little voice of responsibility.

    I remember feeling the same thing when I knew it was smart to wait until after the holidays to adopt my next dog after Agatha died in October. The house was so quiet and empty without a dog. But I knew it would be irresponsible to bring a new dog into the house when we’d be expected to travel and have guests.

    I guess the wait didn’t kill me. And a wonderful dog was ready and waiting for me when I was ready (Shadow).

    You’ll get your trainable kitty one of these days.


  13. What about working with a trap, neuter, return (TNR) program for feral cats – do you have one in your area? Maybe volunteering or donating (as you can afford) would help alleviate the guilt and help the overpopulation problem.


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