Monday, October 15, 2012

Getting adjusted

When we adopted Romy a little over 3 years ago, it was my first experience at pet ownership.  I remember having crazy reactions to the situation, involving much crying and internal hysterics.  I'm going to have cat hair everywhere, he'll wreck all my stuff, I won't like having him around but will have to suffer through it because I made the commitment, etc.  Now I can't imagine my home life without him.  Though he is more attached to John than he is to me, he and I still have our routines.  He waits for me to get out of the shower so I can pet him.  I am the morning attention-giver, so he comes to me first for attention.  Romy has been an entertaining companion.  Had you asked me 4 years ago whether I'd be this happy having a cat, I don't think I would have said yes.

It was hard enough for me to adopt my first pet, so John didn't push me to get the standard 2 cats at the same time, to keep each other company, and to not have to deal with one encroaching on the other's domain.  We had discussed a second cat, one who could be more "my" cat, who might also be more of a lap cat.  I had been hoping Romy would be more cuddly with me than he is, so the thought of a loving lap cat to curl up with me when I read or watch TV is appealing.  We've visited the shelter numerous times, keeping our eyes open for "the" cat.  We developed a track record for visiting cats who had been in the shelter for a while and them being adopted soon thereafter. 

When we met Sapphire at the Pet Corral in May, we figured she would be adopted soon.  May turned to October and she was still there.  John wanted this to be my decision to get a second cat, and I felt bad that such a sweet, loving cat had been in the shelter system since Dec 2011 was still up for adoption in Oct 2012.  On Saturday morning, we went down and visited her one more time, and she was still the sweet, loving cat we kept taking out of the cage to visit.  We decided to adopt her and brought her home.

Over the course of 5 months, I had been thinking about her and wondering why she was still there.  John said "some people might call that a sign".  To be honest, I'm not sure she's "the" cat I envisioned, as I chose to adopt her more out of guilt/pity than a specific pull/feeling like I had with a cat I met who was not up for adoption.  But I was confident enough that she liked me, and that she seemed calm and loving enough that we could work with each other.

I have been freaking out ever since we actually got her home.  "Crap, what if Romy doesn't want to share his space, it's a lot to ask."  "What if after she is spayed she turns into a different cat that I won't like?"  "What if I don't end up loving her as much as Romy?"  "I don't know if she's a climber, or a scratcher, a marker, a shedder, untrainable to stay off tables, has furballs, etc etc"  I had all of the same concerns with Romy.  Romy has turned out to be a great cat, who is large and thus not a climber. We've managed his scratching tendencies quite well and he has not damaged anything significant.  We have trained him to stay off areas where we eat.  He doesn't seem to produce hairballs and shedding is reasonable.  Overall he's a great cat, so my brain says you can't get that lucky twice.  John says he doesn't have bad cats, period.  Still, I manage to flip out for the past two days.

We have read advice on integrating cats, so we John was prepared for the experience.  So far it's been going as well or possibly better than he expected.  I don't like the hissing and growling Romy was doing toward her, but they didn't have any fighting or attempted fighting.  I just feel guilty that I'm asking Romy to share his space with another cat and he doesn't really get a say in it.  If he could talk, I would listen.  ;)

I hope this works out ok and that I don't regret the decision.  I am calmer about it today than I have been the last 2 days.  I just need to give it time for everyone, including me, to adjust.  I'll consider it a win if the two cats can live in the same house and tolerate each other without marking territory.  Gravy would be if they actually liked to play together or curl up together, but I won't hold my breath.

Part of the reason why I am flipping out is because I take the commitment of cat guardian seriously. This cat will be with me for an average of 10 years. That's a long time.  I can't just return her to the store.  I have held off on adopting a second cat before because I wanted a foster arrangement to see if it would work out with Romy and with us, and if not, then it would be understood that we could take the cat back.  Given how overrun this area is with cats, though, that arrangement is not easy to find.  So if I wanted to give it a try, it's a permanent commitment right off the bat.  Not something that I have an easy time swallowing.

All indications are that this will work out ok.  Now if my stomach and nervous system would just believe that, it would be great.  I'll keep giving it time, and I'll be ok.  I have a cat who needs and wants a home, who is happy to be there, so now it's my turn to live up to my end of the bargain.

1 comment:

Liza said...

The most overwhelming aspect to me is the bringing of a new pet into the old pet's place. Although Mia loves Cinnamon and has no issues with her, Daisy is having problems with affection: she wants my attention all the time, but so does the new puppy. It's been ... tense.

Would I go back and decide not to have Cinnamon become part of our family? Nope: she has brought humor, action, and a new perspective on the word "family."