A cat custody question, kind of long, but with pics!

For reasons unimportant to this thread, the SO and I will be parting company and going our separate ways when our current lease expires.

The split and division of belongings has been amicable and fair, save one point of contention. Our two cats.

The first, a female, was purchased by her previous roommate. We inherited her due to a lack of interest of said roommate. Her name is Flica.

Shortly after we moved in together, I purchased our orange male, Oscar le Mew Mew. We call him Mew or Mew Mew.

It’s no secret that Mew is my favorite. He and I have a great routine going. He is not overly needy. He sleeps at the foot of the bed which I adore. In the morning after my shower is our traditional “pet” time. He is active and kind of crazy, but aloof and above it all simultaneously. I love him dearly.

Flica is also good. A bit persnickety, and always after attention. She is often eschewed by me, though she appears to love me, and is always back for more.

Here’s the problem. It’s been established that Mew can go with me. But she will not relinquish Flica. As much as I love Mew, he has been Flica’s pal and playmate since he was a kitten. They play and fight and cuddle and I don’t want to separate him from his companion.

While his affections mean much to me, I want what’s best for him. I work almost 60 hours a week and if I take him he will be alone. A lot. But if I leave him, my heart will be heavy.

So. I either need to have a convincing argument why Flica should come with us or find ways to make peace with leaving my best buddy.

FWIW, she is a Flight Attendant and away from home 3-4 nights a week. This, to her, is not reason enough for me to take the cats.

Help me convince her, or help me make peace!

I have never linked to a picasa album before, but there is a kitten and adult pic of each, and a pic of them being all cuddly. All pics are from my iPhone and not the greatest resolution. Flica is the gray female. Mew is the orange male.

Those in question

What if you beg her to let you have them both? What if you cry and stuff? It sounds like they might be better off with you and I hate to see them separated, they look like they’re real buddies.

The cats need to each have another cat for company, either by staying together or by each of you adopting another cat. I’d say that you will be better for the cats, because even though you work long hours, at least you’ll be there every day. It’s not good for cats to be left alone and unsupervised, especially if they’re left alone for half of the week. What if one of them develops a bladder problem?

Being a flight attendant might be sexy and glamorous and all that, but it’s not a good job if you have to take care of pets or a family. She should consider a snake, or a pet rock. Or she needs a roommate to take care of any pets that she acquires.

They’re cats, don’t go anthropomorphizing them; they don’t see friendship like humans do. Mew will do just fine on his own. If you do want him to have company when you’re at work, adopt a different kitty from the shelter once you’ve settled down in your new place.

My cat was at a shelter for a while and lived in a room with other cats for about a year. Initially, he seemed a little too eager to greet me or my sister at the door when we came home from work. I thought it was because he missed having other cats around so we got him a kitten to play with when we were at work. Now we have two cats twirling around our feet when we come home!

I definitely disagree with this. Animals bond with their buddies. Maybe not in the same way humans do, but they absolutely notice when their mate has left/died.

Not necessarily. Cats DO form friendships with other cats (and with humans, too). They like and dislike other cats, depending on the individual cats involved. When my daughter moved to another state, her cat pined after her, and we had to take him and his buddy to my daughter earlier than we’d planned to. My cat, Sapphire, missed both my daughter and her cat, but not the other cat. Sapphire got extremely clingy, and so my husband and I had to go and adopt another couple of cats from the Humane Society. Sapphire likes one of the new boys, and is exasperated by the other one.

Cats are not identical interchangeable units, and should not be treated as such. Mew has a preferred buddy, and the GF won’t be spending enough time at her new place to really be a responsible pet owner. A single cat at her house would be miserable, and two cats would be miserable together. Pet owners should count on spending some time EACH DAY with their pets. Pets can’t just be shunted aside, and played with only when it’s convenient to the owner. Pets are not just a hobby, and can’t be neglected. If one wants to be a pet owner, one has to take some responsibility, and look after the pets even if it’s not convenient. Some jobs and lifestyles are not compatible with owning a pet.

How about if you offer to buy your gf a pair of kittens? Either right away or, better, after she has a new roommate or is doing less traveling? Sell it as ‘for the good of the cats’ who will miss each other sorely, and point out how adorable kittens are.

Get another cat that looks exactly like Flica, except dead. Yes, fake a cat death. Then take Flica. No, I do not live in a sitcom

Offer her money for the cats.

I would try to find a new buddy for Mew. While it’s true that cats can form bonds, it’s not like Flica is the love of his life or anything. As Grapefruit said, you need to avoid identifying with the animals as human. Yes yes yes, they can form bonds, they have emotions, etc. But I find it hard to believe that Mew couldn’t find a new buddy and be virtually unaffected by the change in the end.

This made me laugh. :stuck_out_tongue:

Not sure anything here solves the problem, though; if she simply will NOT give up Flica, then…? Perhaps another cat/s will help her, but if she’s just being stubborn, she won’t give it up. Gotta find a way to get on her soft side.

I like the crying idea. :stuck_out_tongue:

Also…I think you’d be best serving Mew by taking him with you, even without Flica. If the girl isn’t going to be home, he’ll be better served with you alone; besides, there’s nothing to prevent her getting rid of either cat later, if she IS just being stubborn. So…I still think you should take him solo, if you can’t convince her to let go. And yes, try to find him another companion later on.

This hits close to home, as we have two who were littermates, and I can’t imagine either without the other, but…better one than none.

p.s. Mew looks almost exactly like our girl, Murph. She’s the bouncy, not-so-touchy one; her littermate is bigger, and a big baby. :stuck_out_tongue: AND he looks like your male big baby! Totally different coloring, but exact same look.

I think we need to know why she won’t part with Flica, or at least what she is telling you is the reason, before any suggestions that will (or might) work in convincing her to do so. You, OP, have made a compelling case about why you should have both of the kitties, namely the time away from home (on her part) and your relationship with Mew. Does she have a similar relationship with Flica (or with Mew)?

It makes me sad to think you are even considering leaving Mew if it means he will have a human who cares less about him or won’t have the same bond as the two of you, but it also makes me sad to think Mew might have to leave his BFF.

So without knowing your SO the only suggestions I can offer are:
(1) Offer her money and lots of it. Who among us can’t be bought out eventually?
(2) Take Mew, leave Flica then hope there is trouble and she won’t be able to properly care for the cat and will call you to come get it.
(2a) If you want to be particularly nasty about it (which I am not recommending) you could leave Flica, wait until your SO has a flight that will take her away from home for a few days, then report animal neglect. (This will only work if you live in a pet-friendly community with an active animal unit of some sort.) Offer to take the cat in at that time to save her from having to deal with it.
(2b) Depending on Flica…find a reason to take her to the vet just before you move out. Make sure she is diagnosed with a skin condition or other (minor) annoyance that will require frequent baths or ointment applied daily or some other high maintenance program that SO would not be able to accommodate due to her work schedule. Offer to save her the trouble by taking Flica with you and Mew.

and finally…what I would probably do if I were in your shoes and maybe the easiest of all the suggestions:

(3) Forget the argument altogether. Take Flica and Mew, end of story. If she wants Flica back, let her fight you in court for her. If she can’t prove ownership, or if she doesn’t take you to court over it, then there are no problems. To make it easier, if it were me, I’d take the cats (both of them) to a trusted friend or family member for a few days just before (or during) the move-out phase.

The cat belonged to his SO’s previous roommate who lost interest. It seems that the cat belongs to his SO.

I would NOT recommend what essentially amounts to stealing the cat. The OP says that the breakup has been otherwise amicable, why ruin that? Mew is the one he cares a lot about, he’s just worried that he’ll scar the animal by separating him from his “bff.” Really? Really? I know that cats can bond with each other, I’ve said it like twice already. But it can find new friends. This isn’t a child, it’s an animal.

I agree, do everyone a favour, leave the cats where they are and go adopt some new cats from the shelter. That way your cats will be happy and a new kitty gets a new chance for a life.

I disagree with that though. The cat belonged to the previous roommate. Previous roommate abandoned cat. From reading the OP “WE” inherited the cat, therefore “we” are the owners of the cat, in other words the cat is community property at this point. I don’t see it as stealing if he takes the cat without SO’s consent, nor would it be stealing if SO took the cat without OP’s consent. They both have an equal claim to the cat at this point.

I agree that it is in everyone’s best interest to keep things amicable, but it is in neither kitty’s best interest to become an only cat and it is very bad for Mew (and probably Flica too) for Mew to be left behind. The only solution that makes sense for the cats is for OP to take both of them. If he can get SO to agree to that, then great; if not, I think he should do whatever he needs to do to make that happen.

The OP said it was his SO’s previous roommate, not THEIR previous roommate. This implies to me that he merely felt like THEY had inherited the cat together. I could be wrong, but that’s how I read it. The OP can clarify it one way or the other.

The interests of the humans outweigh the interests of the animals. These aren’t children. There isn’t a custody court for cats. If Flica belongs to the SO, it’s not even a question. The interest of the animal doesn’t even matter. And if it’s a dual ownership, the interest of the animal still doesn’t matter, it will be up for a court to determine who maintains ownership of the cat. And if the OP loses, he’s liable for the costs of the court’s time. Money he could have been spending shopping around for a new friend for Mew. And let’s say we were to go purely by the interest of the animal- the OP says he’s barely home. Shouldn’t Mew go with the SO then?

I disagree with that too. In the case of pets, I believe their best interest should be considered first (much like children).

Oh, but there is! Civil court, just like any other disputed property would be. I went through it with a dog once and was awarded joint-custody of said puppy because neither I nor my then-SO could prove sole ownership. My then-SO never bothered to pick puppy up for his “visitation” so I got to keep him.

I still disagree. The animal should come first, no matter what. If it was life or death for the human, then of course I would side with “people” but all things being equal for the people involved, the animal’s welfare (including happiness) should be the only consideration.

Small claims, costs are minimal; so I do not consider that a good enough reason. And again, the interest of the animal should be the only thing that does matter. OP and SO are not going to be harmed either way, their happiness and health are not dependent upon the cat, but the cat’s happiness and health are entirely dependent on the people. They are all the cat has, so it is pretty important for the cat, which should absolutely be the deciding factor.

I’m confused. OP says he’s barely home, but is home some of the time each day. SO is barely home and is absent for 3-4 days a week (so less than half the time). I don’t even see a contest; the cats need someone who can care for them daily, even if the daily time is limited. If SO was home an equal amount of time and could provide daily care, then splitting the cats up (or even abandoning Mew with SO) would be a viable option. If OP were gone 3-4 days a week, then leaving Mew behind would be the best thing for him to do…but that’s not the way it is.

Right now, OP is the one with some time to spend each day caring for the cats, the one who loves the cat(s) (although SO’s relationship with the cats has not been made clear) and the one with whom Mew has formed a bond. There’s no doubt that Mew should stay with OP. However Mew has also bonded with Flica, Flica has bonded with Mew, and there is no one at home to take care of Flica more than half the week. To me there is no question that Flica needs to be with OP and Mew and if it were me, I’d do everything within my power to make sure that happened. But that is just my opinion.

Even to the detriment of the animal? For a human putting their selfish interests first when they will be gone, while the animal sits alone, for half a week, every week?

When I hear people compare their animals to their children (which is all the time), I can’t help but laugh. The idea that animals should be treated like children is ridiculous. Mew doesn’t see Flica as his “bff.” The anthropomorphization of animals is misguided at best and deluded at worst.

Pets only exist for the entertainment of their owners. It’s silly to think otherwise. “Companionship,” etc, falls into that.

There’s no arguing with this.

Their happiness is dependent on the cat, in a way. If it didn’t make them happy, they wouldn’t have gotten the cats to begin with.

Flica can be replaced with another cat. Yes yes, not all cats get along, but assuming the OP got another cat that Mew did get along with, the cat would suffer no permanent psychological damage from being separated from the other animal. You can’t try to apply human emotion to animals, especially cats.

The cat has the OP. And it could have another partner if the OP acquired one. And no, the cat’s well-being shouldn’t be the deciding factor in this instance. Obviously if an animal is in an abusive environment, its well-being should be considered. But I fail to see how Mew’s well-being is endangered at all. I know, it’s nice to think of our animals as little furry people. But they’re not. They absolutely are not.

Misread the part of the OP dealing with his SO’s schedule.

How do you know that Flica hasn’t formed a bond with the SO? The situation could be reversed. It would be wrong of the OP to separate these two loving animals from one another. It’s not called Best Friends Forever for nothing! Clearly the SO should steal Mew from the OP.

You’re right! Clearly Mew should stay with Flica so that Flica is not by herself all week! Frankly, Flica’s owner can do as she pleases. If she wants to own the cat and be away from home half the time, that’s her decision. For all we know Flica’s owner will buy a new companion for her. Let’s not forget that the animals only live with their human owners to fulfill the selfish desires of those owners. They’re pets.
This is a bunch of bull. They’re animals. They will get over their separation. If you can apply human emotion to them, you can apply it to any number of other animals that we constantly separate from their parents. Yes, they can feel. But you’re all assuming too much. I suspect it’s out of a desire to believe that the animals we own love us in a human way.