A while back, your friend Annie needed a place to live, so you let her stay with you. Annie has a cat, Mr. Kitty. Initially, Annie had only planned to stay for a short while until she found her own place, so she asked her aunt Becky to take care of Mr. Kitty. But eventually, Becky became fed up with Mr. Kitty and said if Annie didn’t come get the cat, she would get rid of him. You felt bad for Mr. Kitty, and so you agreed to let Annie keep him at your house. This was no small matter, either, because Mr. Kitty is not very friendly, especially toward other animals and small children, which you have. So you had to close off a small part of the house where Mr. Kitty can be kept away from decent society.
This arrangement drags on and on, for years. You’re tired of sharing your living space, not to mention the fact that you can’t even use the area you’ve ceded to Mr. Kitty. And Annie is still making no headway on moving out. You suggest to Annie that, since her budget is very tight, she might have better luck if she looks for places that don’t take pets. If she finds one, you’ll hold onto Mr. Kitty until she can find him a home (or a spot at a no-kill shelter). Sure enough, she soon finds a place and moves out, assuring you that rehoming Mr. Kitty will be her top priority. You try to be helpful, sending emails to a number of shelters in the area, but Annie doesn’t follow up. Weeks pass, then months. At first, Annie visits briefly every day to care for Mr. Kitty. But soon, she starts coming over at other times as well, to use the computer or watch TV, without even saying hello to the cat. It begins to feel as though she never moved out at all.
Mr. Kitty is old and crotchety and not particularly handsome, bless his heart. At a shelter that euthanizes, he’s a goner. The no-kill shelters all have waiting lists or don’t accept cats over a certain age. Annie has sent pleas to all her friends, and no one seems to be clamoring to take in the furry little bastard. You *love *cats. But you want your space back, and you’re getting desperate. So what do you do?
I voted the heartless first option. Rationale: The old crotchety cat has already had more years of life than thousands of sweet young kittens. If putting him down would make you feel guilty, stay with Mr. Kitty as he goes to sleep, and adopt a kitten as you leave the shelter.
Depending on what kind of environment your house is located in, you could try making him live outside. Maybe he’ll decide to wander off and live out the rest of his life as a feral cat, problem solved.
Give Annie a short deadline and tell her that he will be gone after that. I would check the no-kills first (just so you can say you did) and take him there if room was available (yeah, right). If not, then take him to a regular shelter and be done with it.
Then change your locks and be done with her as well.
Well, OK, really I’d do the cat copter thing and take Annie to the euthanizing shelter, but I’m evil like that.
There’s a quite a difference between a feral cat, and a domesticated that has been forced to remain outdoors for the remainder of its life…which probably won’t be too long, when you factor into account the actual feral cats, dogs, raccoons, and cars that it’s likely to encounter.
Has Annie been living rent-free for YEARS?S? If so, well, you’ve done more than enough. Old crotchety cat gets a peaceful death, not to mention avoiding the near-inevitable downward slide into ill health …
I was a lot more charitable towards both Annie and Kitty until I re-read and saw the “drags on for years” part of the OP.
First off, I’d change my locks and keep Annie the hell out of my house.
Then I would like to say I would give her a deadline and then take the cat to the shelter, but I’m a sap when it comes to animals and I might hesitate and keep him longer than I should. I wouldn’t be able to drop him off to be euthanized myself, so what I would more likely do is bring the cat to her new place and leave him at the door in a carrier. She can then deal with her cat. She’s not dealing with him because it’s not her problem anymore. Make it her problem again.
Not overnight, but I’m guessing you could gradually transition a cat to live outside and be less dependent on cat food handouts. I’d just feel less guilty releasing an animal to die in the wild as nature intended than I would sending it to a shelter where it would have a boring life in a cage until it died (and this particular cat doesn’t seem to crave human affection anyway), but I know that’ a pretty controversial and perhaps naive opinion.
I vote for telling her at her next visit that she is taking Mr. Kitty home with her, today, and it’s on her to figure out where to go from there. Just in case, try calling the no-kill shelters before this.
I’m an easy mark for strays - people and animals, but even I can see this needs to stop. Next time you know Annie’s coming greet her at the door with Mr. Kitty in a carrier, and all his supplies in a shopping bag.
You’ve already done more than 99.9% of the population would have for both of them. Annie needs to step up and handle her own responsibility.