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Posted by: Anonymous | 2009-05-02

I didn' t have to right to do this

I adopted a cat two years ago. It was my last year of university and I had exams ahead, but I was feeling so down that I knew I would never make it on my own. So I adopted a baby cat and forced myself to study while having her on my lap it helped a lot. I finished the year with good marks, as I used to do before " depression"  hit me. Then I went to France and took my cat with me. I never treated her just like a cat, so she acquired some human habits and we would go for a walk together and she would stand on her back paws as a sign that she wanted me to take her in my arms. Every time I was sad, I' d look at her and I' d feel better. She' d always lie on my back on those moments (maybe because I got warmer from crying but anyway). Once she almost died in an accident and people who saw me cry laughed. But the truth is I loved her and I felt as responsible for her as a mother for a child. But then I decided to get married to my boyfriend who was in the UK because I had finally got a job there through the internet. So I visited my family in my home country before going to the UK (and of course took my cat with me) and then I realized I couldn' t take my cat with me to England because she needed a document that wouldn' t be ready before my departure. If I had had money, I' d have postponed my flight to the UK, but unfortunately I couldn' t afford it so I had to give my cat away. And that' s what I can' t forgive myself for. I ended up not marrying my boyfriend. He' s now going to get married to someone else he was secretely dating for years. And every time I think of the day I left my cat, I remember how I wanted to kiss her goodbye and how she hissed at me (she had never done that before). She knew I was leaving and I felt so guilty. I even considered giving up on my boyfriend and job in England for her. But I didn' t. With me, she was free to go wherever she wanted. Now she' s an indoor cat. I always think she must be sad because she loved to climb trees. I can' t forgive myself. Now it' s too late to take her back because she must be attached to her new family, but I can' t get rid of my feelings of guilt. How can I cope with this?

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Our expert says:
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any comments, jcat ?
It sounds most odd, is you are SA based, for you to have been allowed to take your cat to France with you. Maybe within Europe ? For a variety of reasons, international travel with cars and dogs is very difficult to achieve.
Anyhow, I fully understand your great attachment to and love for your cat --- such relationships are very important to us. Fortunately, though cats also get very attached to us, they are, I think, I bit more realistic and philosophical that we are, and so long as they're still treated with kindness and well fed, maybe they adjust better to losing us than vice versa. They do seem to understand some situations --- even recognizing the signs that you're going to go out shopping. I understand that you feel guilty that somehow your leaving her deprived her o some forms of happiness she might have enjoyed with you. But you took the very important step of arranging for her to be adopted by a new caring family, rather than abandoning her, as tragically many people do, and she would adjust to the new way of life. I suspect your bad feelings are compounded by WHY you gave her for adoption --- not only the promise of a new job, but for the sake of a boyfriend who proved to be fickle and faithless, so the grand reasons you thought balanced the grief of giving her away, proved to be far less than you expected.
Recognize that these feelings of guilt are reasonable, but allowing them to be so lasting and intractable, is unreasonable --- and they do not in any way benefit the cat ! I don't know what you plan for your future. Maybe if you re-visit your home country, you could re-visit the cat ; but don't be upset if she is wary of you and not eager to return to her previous cuddlesome relationship --- she has almost cerainly moved on more successfully than you have

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Our users say:
Posted by: jcat | 2009-05-05

Hi A,
- I can absolutely understand and agree with your reasons for adopting a cat to start with (I had a rabbit at varsity for many of the same reasons), and it sounds as if she had a wonderful life with you there.
I agree with CS though - in the circumstances as they were, you did do the responsible and caring thing by finding her a good home, even though it might not be exactly the same as her home with you was. And also that a lot of the unhappiness and guilt you feel are possibly because the things you moved for didn' t turn out well for you. It' s devastating to feel like you gave up such a special bond for someone who then betrayed you.

I would think that the best thing for both you and the cat would be to treasure the good memories that you shared, and how much being together helped you both, and not to try and make contact. But if you really are finding it impossible to move on, maybe call or mail the family and just say to them that you would really like to know that she has settled down and is happy with them.
Cats do move on, emotionally, the same as we do. I am sure that you will eventually meet and love another man. And in the same way, your cat would have known that you left her (at the time), would have missed you and the things you did together, but would then have grieved and started a new different relationship in her current home.
It' s important to love and cherish our animals, but you mustn' t let that stop you from carrying on with your life. In time, open your heart and home to other cats, and remember this special cat with love rather than guilt.
Good luck,
jcat

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