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Thread: Whose Cat Is It Anyway? A Cat Custody Story...Long

  1. #1
    Senior Member SiouzQ.'s Avatar
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    Whose Cat Is It Anyway? A Cat Custody Story...Long

    I am immersed in a dilemma that I can't figure out ~ the back story being that when I decided to move out of Michigan and to New Mexico three years ago, I had a cat that I didn't want to take with me at the time because things were happening so quickly and I couldn't arrange bringing her due to the tiny place I was going to be living in. The reason I had this cat in the first place was because many years ago my daughter had an AA friend who was being evicted because he had two cats he wasn't supposed to have. She said she would take one, and called me one Sunday night many years ago begging me to take the other one (temporarily, ha!) while he figured things out. He never did figure things out and after a time I reconciled myself to having a pet again, Mouse the Cat. I grew to love her once she finally warmed up to me.

    When I used to go on my yearly road trips out west I would take the cat to my ex-MIL's house and she would cat-sit for three weeks, and when she went to Mexico over the Christmas holidays every year she would bring her cat over to my house for a few weeks. Both cats seemed to get along with each other during these times and we did this for many years. When I was trying to figure out if I was going to move to NM, Grandma B. readily said she would take Mouse, which lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. This worked out for over two years as far as I knew. Whenever I called Grandma B. she said both cats were fine and that she enjoyed having Mouse very much.

    Then last summer as you all know, all hell broke loose when I had to rush back to Michigan because my daughter had died of an overdose. Amidst all that I found out that Grandma B. was in the process of getting a dementia diagnoses. When we all went over to her house (it became grief central), the smell of cat pee was overwhelming. Being 87 years old, she hadn't noticed that anything was amiss because she was losing her sense of smell. No one knew which cat was doing the peeing out of the litter box and in between all the crying and grieving, my ex-BIL wanted me to take the cat back. I am stilled pissed off to this day at him; unbelievable at the time I had just lost my daughter and was trying to make arrangements and living 1500 miles away when I didn't have a place for the cat at the time. I tried my best between bouts of agonizing grief to figure out what to do with this cat I didn't feel was mine anymore. I had a friend who was really into cats come and do a consult about how to rearrange the house so they'd be apart, she got more litter boxes, etc. I tried calling different shelters and foster cat places all the while dealing with all the stuff one does after a death, the emptying of her apartment, and then having to get back to NM and work. So I left Michigan after two weeks and left them to deal with the cat. I gave them permission to take the cat to a shelter (and I felt horrible about that but I had no other alternative because I couldn't have a pet in the tiny space I was living in). But Grandma B. didn't want the cat taken to a shelter so I guess they all tried a variety of solutions - my ex-husband had her for a bit but she didn't get along with his other pets. It turns out it was the other cat who was doing the peeing anyway. She then ended up this past year staying at my ex-SIL's empty house in Hamtramck catching mice for her keep. Someone would go over there every few days to feed and water her. I wasn't really kept apprised of what was going on with her; I have no communication at all with my ex anymore, nor my ex-SIL.

    Anyway, now that the ex-SIL heard that I just bought a house here in New Mexico she wants me to take the cat back because she is finally selling the house where the cat has been. I was just in back in Michigan a few weeks ago but didn't know if the house deal was going to go through and had no idea at that time what had happened to the cat (Grandma B. was sort of being vague about it) All of the sudden ex-SIL contacted me on Instant Messenger about what to do with the cat that I am not quite sure is my responsibility anymore. I have again given them permission to take her to a (hopefully) no-kill shelter. I'm not sure how adoptable this cat is - she is a feisty one, but very sweet in her own right, but she fights like hell about being picked up and put in a cat carrier. I can't imagine driving with her 1500 miles, or even flying with her. The crux of it is that I do not have the time or the money to fly back to Michigan to get said cat any time soon. Ex-SIL keeps coming up with these creative ways for me to have "my" cat back and it is starting to feel weird to me - I don't know what to do and have explained to her several times that I cannot say definitively when I will be back in Michigan (certainly not until next spring at the soonest). I have told them three times to take the cat to a shelter but they don't want to do it apparently. And I feel so bad for this cat being shuffled around endlessly - if I could teleport her out here I would in a heart beat.

    So, that is my long, convoluted story: what I want to know is, do you guys think I am still the owner of the cat now that Grandma B. can't take care of her? What is my responsibility here after so much time has passed? I tried to be as concise as I could spelling out the story of poor Mouse the Cat. Of course there is all this historical background of family dysfunction playing out here too; even though I have been divorced from my daughter's father since 1992, I remained quite close to my MIL all these years. They keep coming up with sort-of solutions, like ex-SIL will keep that cat if I can at some point come get her in the future but I cannot promise that. I have told her this in all these messages, thanking her profusely for taking care of kitty this past year, but always with an out for them - if it is too much, just take the cat to a shelter! I know it may not the ideal solution because of her adoptability, but to subject the cat to a plane ride with a layover that would last all day long seems cruel, let alone driving her 1500 miles (I would never have enough time off to even do that in the future anyway - it's a 3.5 day drive each way).

    What would you do?

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    I'm not saying you should do this, but knowing me, I'd drive back and get the cat and a prescription for tranquilizers and bring the cat back.

    Of ship the cat by air.

    I know, I know, it's awful, and probably not what you want to hear. But that's probably what I would do. I wouldn't want her to go to a shelter and I'd want her where she was loved and wanted.

  3. #3
    Senior Member SiouzQ.'s Avatar
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    Ex-SIL's recent message was that maybe she could keep the cat in her basement temporarily until I can come and get her. I have told her that I cannot at this time drive to Michigan and back, or any time soon. I do not have the money or time to do it in the next six months. I'm also having another wrist surgery in October that is going to set me back for two months minimum. And as far as I know, you can't ship animals by themselves. I think that would be cruel. I just cannot promise her that I will be able to get this cat, period. That is why I am suggesting giving her up, even if it means she may not get adopted. It makes me feel like a horrible person but I am of the ilk that does not put pets at the same status as humans; not that I think pets are disposable things, but in this instance in my life I don't have the resources at this moment to remedy the situation.

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    I in no way think you are a horrible person! You are just trying to figure it out. Maybe somebody there can work on adopting the cat to someone else in Michigan?

    Or, you could look more into flying:

    I think you can ship a cat by itself: I put this into the American Airline calculator as though the cat weighed 30 pounds with the kennel. This is what it estimated for Michigan to NM, $329?

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    If you can’t find a hone for the cat, you have three options.

    you can let them continue to badger you about the cat.
    you can (go) get the cat.
    you can arrange for someone else to go get the cat and take it to a shelter.

    my son left his cat here when he left for college. He married a girl who has dogs. The cat hates the dogs. The girl is not a cat person. After living without a cat, my son discovered he is allergic to cats. He is now 25. The cat will never live with him again, but it is still his cat.

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    Senior Member KayLR's Avatar
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    How old is this cat? Is it adoptable? Because, someone out there will love her and give her a good home if she's given the chance.
    My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished two bags of M&Ms and a chocolate cake. I feel better already!

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    I would pay for the cat to be shipped in cargo. It’s your cat. If you don’t have a no kill shelter it will be killed. Grandma did you a huge favor and now is senile. I care more about people than animals but she is your responsibility.

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    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teacher Terry View Post
    I would pay for the cat to be shipped in cargo. It’s your cat. If you don’t have a no kill shelter it will be killed. Grandma did you a huge favor and now is senile. I care more about people than animals but she is your responsibility.
    +2 If the cat is a good mouser, you may find that a huge benefit as well.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Grandma B. readily said she would take Mouse, which lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. This worked out for over two years as far as I knew. Whenever I called Grandma B. she said both cats were fine and that she enjoyed having Mouse very much.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I think Mouse became Grandma B's at that point (and wound up being Grandma B's by common law). This is difficult. If you feel that your life in your new house with your kind-of-new relationship with K would be enhanced by getting Mouse there SOMEHOW then I would do it. But if it's a burdensome prospect to have the cat live with you at this point in your life, I hate to say it, but I would do what you're doing and try to find it a home. [Disclaimer: I'm a dog person, not a cat person, so my opinion may be biased]
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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  10. #10
    Senior Member SiouzQ.'s Avatar
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    The thing is, now that we have a house, having a cat would be doable (especially if there are pack rats to kill). It's just so inconvenient to somehow get her out here. The timing is so bad. No one in that family has communicated with me for this past year about what was going on with this cat, perhaps out of respect to my grief, I have no idea. The whole thing makes me feel just terrible and I don't know what to do. I am going to call all the Ann Arbor shelters tomorrow and find out if there is a place that can foster her or something. It's very hard to explain and arrange this from afar, because I tried last summer to do it but Grandma B. wouldn't hear of any of it. She wouldn't let her kids take the cat to a shelter then so they didn't. She still has her own cat but no one sees it; she's always been a scaredy-cat and hides whenever anyone comes to the house.

    What a mess! I guess if I had known what was going on a few weeks ago while I was visiting Ann Arbor perhaps I could have made some kind of arrangements somehow. Like I said before, I have had very little communication from that side of the family ever since my daughter's memorial; I didn't even really know where the cat was all this time.

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