No matter how much time you spend in the shelter’s socialization room, or on a foster home’s floor, trying to get to know your potential new cat… it’s pretty hard to get to know a cat as quickly as you might say a dog, or even a person! Cats are such amazingly complex creatures, and even well-established adult personalities can shift from one environment to the next. So, what do you do if you adopt (or inherit or otherwise end up with) a cat that doesn’t quite fit into the figurative perfect cat box you’d hoped for?
One of our favorite cat authors at the wonderful Way of Cats blog has explored this topic in her usual attentive and insightful style! She writes: ” One of the many reasons I encourage and emphasize the choosing of our cat, when possible, is how the right cat match will make us both so happy. There’s a number of circumstances that can interfere. We could have misinterpreted the signals we got from our choice. Perhaps the stress of the cat’s current situation made them act contrary to their nature. With a rescue of any kind, we obviously have no choice at all.
Can mismatches still work out?
When we are finding romantic partners, we often discover that breaking out of our “type” opens a whole new world; which may contain our soulmate. With cats, we can find that while we never thought of picking such a cat; we love the results!
But if that’s not the case, here’s some important considerations for when we wish our cat was different:
Are we mistaking rescue for relationship? When we rescue a cat who turns out to be everything we’d love a cat to be; we feel incredibly validated. So when we rescue a cat who creates problems for us, we feel stuck. And, we shouldn’t.
If we have done all we can to make our cat happy and secure, we are seeing this cat at their current best. They might not be the right cat for us. In which case, we rescued them for some other lovely person; who is waiting for their cat to arrive.
Are we asking too much? Often, I get letters from people who would like their cat to be more outgoing, assertive, and cuddly. There’s nothing wrong with wanting that; unless it’s something this cat can’t give.
Recovering ferals, genetically challenged cats, traumatized cats; these could be cats who will never be the court jester or lovebug we really want. That’s fine.
Go out and get a court jester or lovebug, then. They could be exactly the cat to model the behavior we want from our other cat; and exactly the cat to make us happy, and stop radiating disappointment.
Are we sure the cat is unhappy? Many times, I must gently counsel that the way the cat is now is the way the cat is meant to be. We might see this as a restricted and miserable life; but the cat is living it, not us.
If the cat is content and not showing signs of anxiety or stress, then trying to change them is not the answer.
What is best for both of us? When I ran my cat rescue, it was easy for me to tell if a cat wasn’t going to be happy in my Circus of Cats. Obviously, the answer was not to give up my Circus and the cats who were happy there. It was to find this particular cat a place where they could be Only Cat.
There are many people who want and need an Only Cat. They can have restricting living situations, or restricted budgets. They might have health challenges that extend their energies to only a single pet, or live with people who want to deal with only a single pet. There can also be the desire to be the world to some other being; and give them the world in return.
There are many other possible mis-matching circumstances. Some cats love activity, while other cats need peace and quiet. We might be away so much our cat is lonely; we might be lonely, and are overwhelming the cat with requests they can’t fulfill.
If a cat needs something we can’t give, if we are asking something of the cat they can’t give; rehoming isn’t an admission of failure.
It is the recognition of what the cat needs, and giving it to them.
Which is what every relationship should be, with every cat.
Read more cat articles on the Way of Cats by clicking here!