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Advice on what her we are suitable pet owners please

(32 Posts)
AllTheFours44 Thu 30-May-19 10:57:09

My daughter is 5, will turn 6 in a couple of months and would love a pet. She cried to me this morning about it. As much as my heart melts, I need to be practical and said before agreeing. She would ideally love a dog but I’ve made it clear this cannot happen as we do not have a lifestyle conducive with doggie needs. She would also like either a guinea pig (which means 2 guinea pigs) or a cat. I have owned a cat before so am swinging towards a feline friend. I just don’t know if we are in a position to offer a suitable home so would appreciate any advice.

Situation is that I work shifts, a combination of days and nights, whereby 3 times a week I’ll be away for 14 hours.

I am separated from my daughters father. She stays with him when I am at work and he himself works 8 to 5, Monday to Friday.

My house has a cat flap, I live in a village/quiet area and I would therefore envision an indoor/outdoor cat.

My ex had said he would be agreeable to taking the cat with him and my daughter when she stays with him. He, however, lives in an apartment, therefore no outside space for the cat, so not sure how agreeable the cat would be. Also, if he were to call by to collect the cat while I’m at work, there is no guarantee the cat would even be here if I’ve let it out. I wouldn’t feel right leaving it locked in while I’m at work.

As you can see, my situation is not ideal. I know I should not get a pet, just because my daughter wants one. However, I think it would benefit her greatly to have a little furry companion if my life could facilitate one.

Any views? Thanks in advance.

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AllTheFours44 Thu 30-May-19 11:01:02

Apologies, title should read ‘whether we are suitable...’

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thecatneuterer Thu 30-May-19 11:06:02

Your house would certainly be suitable for a pet, but it would be incredibly stressed by constantly moving between places. So you could get a cat or a pair of cats, but they should stay where they are and definitely, DEFINITELY, not go to your ex's place.

It's not a major problem if you are out a lot. You either need a very independent cat (a rescue will guide you to suitable ones) or a pair of cats that could keep either other company and entertain each other. As for food when you're out you could leave down dry food and/or get an automatic pet feeder.

KarenBeck Thu 30-May-19 11:11:52

I have 2 rescue guinea pigs and I swear all they do is eat, poo and wee. They are a huge amount of work and it's not cheap.
I had 2 gerbils. If you get a decent size cage with lots of toys etc these lovely furries prove to be great pets and never nipped. They also don't smell like other small pets. Hamsters are good too. I love cats but they will generally destroy your furniture and decimate the local wildlife.

KarenBeck Thu 30-May-19 11:16:17

PS i adore cats and volunteer with a cat charity. If you decide on a cat local rescue is the best way to go and you can visit to get to know them. Just from experience my furniture was destroyed and the local mouse, field mouse and shrew population seemed to end up dead on my floor. The cat was a prolific destroyer of all things small.

AllTheFours44 Thu 30-May-19 11:22:37

Thank you for your advice.

@thecatneuterer You’ve confirmed what I thought regarding the cat living between 2 places. I worries this would result in a stressed animal. Unfortunately, asking my daughter to be away from the cat, particularly in the early days could result in a stressed little girl. God knows it’s stressful enough for her to have to split her time between 2 homes....

I have taken your advice on board though and agree that the hypothetical cat would live with me full time. I just hope it would let me sleep when on night duty!

@KarenBeck I hated how my old cat would toy with mice it had caught and chase birds etc. I remedied this by putting a bell around its neck. The hunter wasn’t as effective with a jingling warning for it’s prey!

I’m not keen on Guinea pigs myself tbh from the research I’ve done. The need for a big run and incontinence being two major cons.

Gerbils/hamsters I hadn’t given much thought to as I feel their interaction would be limited. I’m open to correction on this though.

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poppet31 Thu 30-May-19 11:39:59

My cat is a rescue cat and really doesn't adapt to change very well. Whenever she comes back from the cattery if we've been on holiday, she will cry for a good few hours. I think it would be cruel for the cat to be moved between two homes. A lot of cats like routine and when they have to adjust their 'mental map' it can be quite distressing for them.

Toddlerteaplease Thu 30-May-19 11:40:14

I work 13 hour shifts. My cats are left, they just sleep all day. (I've watched them
On a camera)

Walkamileinmyshoesbeforeujudge Thu 30-May-19 11:44:21

Presumably he is an ex for a jolly good reason? Why would you inflict him upon a lovely dcat??
Seriously ime dcats can make their own entertainment while you are at work.
My 2 have a reserve dcat slave for when they need feeding /strokes / a meow and I am not in...
My ndn!!
And presuming by the perfume dcats have lingering they get plenty of cuddles also...
< cough, splutter, ott aroma!! >

AllTheFours44 Thu 30-May-19 11:47:42

@poppet thank you. We would be getting the hypothetical cat (HC) from a rescue so I understand it would have enough stress adapting to one home, never mind two. I’m sure my ex would take my daughter to my house on weekends if I’m at work to see/play with HC so that will have to do.

@Toddlertea
I’m relieved to hear from someone in a similar situation. I had only planned one HC, I think 2 could be pushing it. Do you think one would be ok? My neighbour has 2 cats, which my daughter loves. She herself was concerned about the neighbour cats being “mean” to her HC and think that’s why she was swinging towards guinea pigs! Hopefully all cats could live in peace side my side.

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AllTheFours44 Thu 30-May-19 11:53:51

@walkamile For shame. We could be your neighbours. The only saving grace is that my 5 year old is unperfumed 🙈

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poppet31 Thu 30-May-19 11:55:41

I think it's great that you are putting so much thought in to this. So many people rush in to a pet and sadly so many end up back in rescue centres. If you can figure out the logistics, having a cat is so worthwhile. Mine is hard work and has some issues but she brings me so much joy and makes me laugh so much.

AllTheFours44 Thu 30-May-19 12:06:46

Thank you @poppet. I really need to be sure before I commit. I truly see pets as family members and won’t agree to one unless I’m 100% we’re a good fit for each other.

I also need to consider the HC’s age/sex. As cute as I find kittens and as much as I’d love one, I feel an older cat might be a better fit for us. Would you agree? I really want her to have a cat that will be mature enough to tolerate her but young and energetic enough to play with her. Does such a beast exist at any age?! Also, is there a difference in temperament between the sexes or is it essentially down to the individual cat?

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Walkamileinmyshoesbeforeujudge Thu 30-May-19 12:11:03

We got our 2 at tiny age. Ds was 4. Omg he adored them. Carried one at a time in on his shoulder so carefully. Dkittens loved him. He read them stories and was never rough. Lots of kitten care books aimed at dc. Mine are 7now and far too fat to carry!

AllTheFours44 Thu 30-May-19 12:14:46

Such regal looking cats you have @walkamile! They’re lush.

I love your story. The thought of my wee girl with a little furry friend to read stories to and play with is my whole motivation. She is and will always be an only child and I feel she needs another being in our sometimes too quiet house. I know she’d be gentle with HC.

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Heyha Thu 30-May-19 12:17:56

I have a pair of farm-bred cats and I don't think they'd notice if we went missing for 24 hours or more...they have their routines and both come in for a fuss and a snooze quite regularly every day but are very independent as well- they have a catflap so can please themselves and I know they hang about together in the garden in the evening. I'd deffo be looking at getting a bonded pair, OP, as the cats will appreciate it but I also think it will help your daughter not worry so much about not being there/next door's cats being mean, if she knows they are together.

Walkamileinmyshoesbeforeujudge Thu 30-May-19 13:45:00

I was an only dc. I remember still going to collect my dkitten at 7!! Carried her in my coat on the bus home!
We had a ddog too but dcat was special. Slept in my duvet with her head on the pillow!
'Chippy' she was called. Little tortie queen.

thecatneuterer Thu 30-May-19 14:28:54

Temperament is down to the individual cat, not the sex. Age does make a difference though as all cats tend to calm down once they get past three years old.

A shelter will know the personalities of the cats in their care and will be able to guide you towards suitable ones for your situation. I also think a bonded pair would be a good idea. And of course many rescues cats are just normal happy, well socialised cats that for whatever reason the owners couldn't keep. Rescue doesn't mean 'difficult'.

isthatabloborwhat Thu 30-May-19 14:44:20

If your dd is unable to understand why she won't be able to take the cat with her to stay at her dad's, then she isn't ready to have a pet cat just yet. Perhaps a cage pet (as others suggest) might be better?

Toddlerteaplease Thu 30-May-19 15:12:50

@AllTheFours44 I think it depends on the personality of the cat. Having two cats is absolutely wonderful though. And no extra trouble. Mine share a litter tray and bowls. (Their choice) my non related cats get on much better than when Magics Sister was alive.

AllTheFours44 Thu 30-May-19 15:28:02

I’m not sure why I feel that two is biting off more than I can chew really... double the cat hair, double the potential sickness/injury, double the early morning food demands! Also double the fun though. To be honest as nice as a bonded pair sounds, I’m thinking it might be a lot to take on. Will have to chew it over a bit more.

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Walkamileinmyshoesbeforeujudge Thu 30-May-19 15:39:26

Ime having 2 saves your soft furnishings!! Company when you aren't in and double the entertainment when you are!! Mine are joined at the hip at home but venture off apart when outside. Different personalities. So if you get 2 you and dd can cuddle one each!!
Sounds fair to me!!

thecatneuterer Thu 30-May-19 16:00:58

Two is only more trouble from a financial point of view. Double the insurance premiums realistically. Otherwise it's probably less trouble than having one as they will entertain each other, comfort each other, play together and not rely on you so much.

strawberrypenguin Thu 30-May-19 16:03:40

I think you'd be fine with a cat. You could get a timed feeder for those times you are out of the house for a long stretch.
However please please don't move the cat constantly between 2 homes. It would be terribly unfair and make the cat very stressed. If you do this cat needs to live with you full time.

madcatladyforever Thu 30-May-19 16:06:36

My friend's cats live in two different locations, her main home with a garden and her holiday apartment 100 miles away with no garden.
Her cats are fine with it and they get used to that kind of routine.
She's been doing it for several years now.
You just need to make sure the cat you get has an independent personality and would be happy being left for long periods, my cat is fine with being alone for 12 hours and just sleeps.
I don't think a kitten would be suitable but a 2-3 year old would be fine.
Cats are very indepenedent and as long as they have food and water they are fine.
Check with the shelter what cat they have that would be suitable for your lifestyle.

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