Have you ever been in a situation where you had to decide whether, or to what extent, to interfere with
a friend’s cat problems?
Recently, a friend was going through some
major life changes — moving, uprooting her
life — and suddenly needed to find homes
for her two cats. These were very nice, mostly outdoor cats who lived in a heated garage
during the winter and were able to come and
go as they pleased and interacted somewhat
with their humans.
Of course, my bias well before this was
that these cats would have blossomed with
some time in the house. But I kept my opinions to myself, knowing that I wasn’t going to
change my friend’s mind. The cats were well-cared for and seemed to be savvy enough to
survive and not wander too far.
But when the friend let me know that she
was going to have to find homes for the cats,
I knew I had to get involved.
While I was grateful that she was at least
trying to find homes for the cats, I wondered
if she shouldn’t try harder to keep them with
her. She was going to have a place to live,
even though it was small. Her plans about
where she was going to end up, exactly, were
vague, due to what she was going through.
But I wondered — why couldn’t she keep
them and make it work? I especially worried
about one of the cats — a very shy yet sweet
boy. I knew he’d need a home with some
patience and cat savvy and that his new peo-
ple would need to be willing to work with
him to bring forth his sweet personality. And
I was several states away, with a house full of
my own cats.
I really wanted to say, “But why can’t
you take them with you?!” But I knew she
wouldn’t change her mind and that she
believed she couldn’t deal with this complication in her life right then.
I took some time to think about an appropriate response. I wanted to give her suggestions that would help the cats. Ultimately, I
wanted them to end up in good homes.
I stressed to her that she’d really need to
find the right people, particularly for the
I reminded her of a really savvy animal
person we both knew who might have some
ideas for potentially good new homes.
And I continued to bite my tongue, even
though there were things I really wanted to
say. She was going through a tough time, and
I was trying to be respectful of that. Life happens, and sometimes it’s hard.
I know my reaction was not the “only right
way.” I’m not even sure it IS right. I might
have done better.
The story has a happy ending — both cats
found good homes, thanks to my friend’s
efforts. It sounds as if they are kind homes,
with people who are willing to provide for
and understand the cats and their unique
needs. Change is hard, and I certainly would
have preferred that these cats could have
stayed with their original person. But at least
they’re being cared for in loving homes.
Catherine Holm is the author of The Great Purr and
the cat-themed memoir Driving With Cats: Ours for a
Short Time. She loves living in nature and being outside
every day — even in winter. She is mom to six adorable
When is it OK to Interfere with
a Friend’s Cat Problems?
BY CATHERINE HOLM
YOU HANDLE IT?
When you adopt
a cat, it’s a commitment. If you’re
having a baby or
moving, you deal
with the situation.
I think it’s OK
to talk to your
as long as you
are helpful, and
If you can offer
help, do it; if
not, accept your
Three of my
cats came from
the same friend
when her life
went into temporary turmoil. I
guess that’s how
I respond: Take
— Michelle Smith
A co-worker and
his family got a
kitten — which
I later found
out was kind
of forced on
them. When the
cat was 8 or 9
months old, they
him. I decided
the best thing for
the kitten was
to take him in
— Kerry Palmer