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Old 11-04-2012, 06:56 PM
kfander Male kfander is offline
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Default Pets and Vacations

My wife and I have four cats. Two of them are sisters from the same litter, and they will be twenty-three next month. A third is one that I fed as a feral cat since she was still a kitten, and who we took into the house shortly after we were married in 2000. She will be twenty-three in January or February. I am not sure just when she was born but she was a kitten while the older ones were still kittens, although they were a bit older than her. The fourth is the daughter of the formerly feral cat, conceived in Texas but born in Millinocket, Maine.

I was forty-eight when I married for the first and only time. The two older cats were with me for eleven years before we were married, and I had befriended and was feeding the other one for almost as long. Plus, I had the mother of the two older cats when we were married. She died at the age of twenty-four a few years back.

These cats mean a great deal to me, far more so than pets mean to a lot of people. They have individual personalities and ways of communicating that I am quite familiar with, and they are as close as a cat can come to being family. My wife doesn't quite understand that. By that, I mean that, although she understands that I feel that way, I don't think she knows what it's like to feel that way about a pet.

It doesn't help that the two older cats don't like her much. One of them did everything she could think of to get rid of her after we married. She crapped in her shoes, in her purse, and in her chair moments after she had left the room. She is perfectly well housebroken, so this was obviously her way of sending a message that was understood but not very well received.

She gave up her open warfare but still doesn't like my wife very much. In her defense, she has always been a bit of a flake. By that, I mean the cat, not my wife, in the event that she might read this one day. If I walk up on her suddenly, she'll sometimes hiss at me, and I was there when she was born. Her mom would bring the whole litter into my bed so that I could babysit while she took a break, sitting in a window. Nevertheless, in the twelve years that we've been married, my wife has never been able to reach down and pet her.

Her sister took another approach to a similar end. She would sit between us if we were sitting together on the couch and then push, as if trying to get us to sit further apart. To this day, when I am talking to my wife, she will try to distract me, to get me to come downstairs with her, or to pay attention to her rather than to my wife. It has been years since she has played with a cat toy but she uses them as a prop, bringing them to me while meowing, as if to say, "I'll give you this toy if you'll pay attention to me instead."

We frequently lock them out of the bedroom, and will find cat toys piled up outside the door.

The formerly feral cat is a little more comfortable with me than with my wife, but she treats my wife okay, and her daughter goes out of her way to give us equal time. If she's on my lap for awhile, she'll look over at my wife, then leave me to spend some time on her lap, as well.

For the past twelve years, my wife and I have both worked out the house, so the cats are used to both of us being here most of the time. Being that they are cats, and not dogs, we can go away for a couple of days, as long as I leave enough water and some extra litter boxes. They will miss the canned food that they are used to getting in the morning and evening, but they are free-fed kibble, and the kibble container will hold enough to last them for a month.

If we are going to be away longer than that though, I have to get someone to come in to change the litter boxes and to feed them. Since three of them are old, I worry about leaving them for too long without canned food, as they get much of their hydration from it. In the natural state, cats get most of their hydration from the moisture found in their kills so, when they get older, sometimes they don't drink enough water to be properly hydrated when they are eating only dry kibble.

Plus, when we are away for more than a couple of days, it's hard on the cats. One of them punishes me by refusing to let me pet her for hours after we return, and it's clear that all of them are stressed by our absence.

Twenty-three years is a long time for a cat, so I know that I'm doing something right by them, and hate to mess that up by leaving them with a changed diet for too long of a time, and by adding unnecessary stress to their lives.

My cats are all pretty healthy. The two older ones saw a new vet not long ago, and he had trouble believing they were older than six or seven. The formerly feral one is showing her age more. She has lost a few teeth, and she looks old, yet she plays more than any of the others, and is the most likely of any of them to come home with a critter in her mouth.

Other than their ages, I can see no reason to believe that the two older cats won't still be doing fine years from now.

The problem is that my wife really wants to get away for awhile. When her mother died recently, I stayed here while my wife traveled to New Mexico for the funeral. She drove there with her daughter, since she refuses to fly, and I had only met her mother a few times so that wasn't a problem.

However, we own a few timeshares and have never even seen a couple of them. We did spend more than a week in a Williamsburg, Virginia timeshare a few years ago, because the daughter of a friend of ours was willing to come over and feed the cats every day, and to spend some time with the only one of them that was sociable enough to come out from hiding. We paid her for caring for the cats of course, but she was someone we could trust with a key. It was a nice vacation, but I missed my cats and they were not pleased about my absence.

We are going to meet our pastor and his family in Plymouth for Thanksgiving, and my wife wanted to include a week in a timeshare on top of a couple of days in Plymouth, but we don't know anyone here anymore who we could trust with a key, and who would be willing to do the job that the other girl, who is now away for college, did for us a few years ago.

We have a woman who cleans for us a couple of times a week but she doesn't drive. We have to pick her up from across town, and drive her home when she's done. Otherwise, she sometimes has one of her sons drive her but I don't even like it when he comes here to pick her up because his mother has complained that her sons steal from her. I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving a key to our house with her because she would probably have her son drive her here.

Our cats are sociable enough with me, and tolerable with my wife, but they are not sociable with anyone else, so boarding them would be hell, and I can't do that to them at their age. Plus, I know that some of you would disagree and that's okay, but I think a part of the reason for their longevity is that I don't have them vaccinated, and that would surely be a requirement for boarding. I have had to look around before in order to find a veterinarian who is okay with that.

Anyhow, my wife was planning this week and a half long vacation the other day, without considering that we have no arrangements that we can make for our cats for that long of a stay, which would be a couple of weeks, given driving time.

When I pointed it out to her, she cried, and I'm looking for an answer, which would not be to sacrifice the cats. This is not so serious that I have to make a choice between my wife or the cats but being unable to go away for more than a few days at a time is nevertheless a problem.

We have a bunch of timeshare points saved up, since we haven't been using them, so I'm thinking that perhaps we could spend a week at a timeshare along the coast of Maine, which isn't far from here, but is still a part of the state where we've seldom been. In fact, I don't think my wife has ever been along the coast of Maine. When we published a newspaper, I would drive that route once a month but she wouldn't be with me. Maybe we could spend some time at a timeshare in Greenville, which seems kind of silly since we live on one one end of Baxter State Park, while Greenville is on the other, but I don't think she's ever been to Greenville either, and it's a whole different place than Millinocket. When I mentioned it, she didn't seem very excited about it, but she was still feeling badly about the Plymouth trip. We're still going to Plymouth for a couple of days, but can't do a week in a timeshare on top of it.

There are a lot of nice places we could stay in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, which wouldn't require long drives to and from.
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Last edited by kfander; 11-04-2012 at 07:05 PM. Reason: Typo
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  #2  
Old 11-04-2012, 07:21 PM
grumble Male grumble is offline
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"This is no[t] so serious that I have to make a choice between my wife or the cats..."

Are you sure about that? Think it won't come up during future disagreements?

There's no answer that you'll agree with. I'm tempted to make a smart alack reply, but I doubt you'd find it humorous. Good luck in avoiding the horns as you deal with your dilemma.
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:28 PM
kfander Male kfander is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grumble View Post
There's no answer that you'll agree with. I'm tempted to make a smart alack reply, but I doubt you'd find it humorous. Good luck in avoiding the horns as you deal with your dilemma.
So I'm thinking that you wouldn't agree that, "they've been here longer than you have" is an appropriate response?
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:33 PM
grumble Male grumble is offline
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Alright! Now you're getting down to MY level! Well, at least you're moving in the right direction.

I was going to pose it a bit differently -- anybody can find a wife, but 20-something year old cats are darned hard to come by.

OTOH, which will cost the most in alimony?
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:40 PM
wildturnip Female wildturnip is offline
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Kfander, I understand. I feel that way about my dog and every dog I've ever had. I enjoyed reading the history of your cats. I don't have an answer though. We don't all go away from home at the same time because I don't know anyone who could take care of my dog and she gets car sick when she rides. We have neighbors who would stop by and feed her but I don't want tjo leave her outside day and night and I don't really trust anybody to actually let her in the house every evening.
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:53 PM
kfander Male kfander is offline
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There are hotels that take pets but they tend not to be top of the line, and if you've ever traveled with four cats, you'll know that it's no vacation, for us or the cats.
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Old 11-04-2012, 08:20 PM
wildturnip Female wildturnip is offline
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I know what you mean! My oldest daughter had two cats (one now) and I rode with her to her in-laws and those cats never stopped crying the whole 3 1/2 hours.
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Old 11-05-2012, 12:16 AM
Tod Tod is offline
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I didn't read all of the post thoroughly, but paying a local petsitter or neighbor to come over isn't an option?

Sure, the cats aren't going to be social with them, but the neighbor or petsitter can change litter, and set out fresh cans of food that they like, then leave them in their home in peace.
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Old 11-05-2012, 01:51 AM
kfander Male kfander is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tod View Post
I didn't read all of the post thoroughly, but paying a local petsitter or neighbor to come over isn't an option?

Sure, the cats aren't going to be social with them, but the neighbor or petsitter can change litter, and set out fresh cans of food that they like, then leave them in their home in peace.
At the moment, we can't think of anyone we'd trust with both the key and the knowledge that we'll be gone for a couple of weeks. For the past couple of years, we've only been spending winters here and haven't been getting out much.
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Old 03-06-2018, 05:14 PM
kfander Male kfander is offline
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I hope no one minds old threads being popped back up again but I wanted to follow up on my earlier (years ago) posts.

We have only two cats now, and only one of them is among the four we had when I started this thread. Cutie turned 27 in December. Her sister, Lydia, died in November, just over a month short of being 27. Sadly, we were at a timeshare in Virginia when she died, so I feel terrible about not being there for her.

We did find someone trustworthy who would come by and take care of our cats while we were gone on vacation, and she does a very good job of it. Lydia was sick, and I knew she didn't have a lot of time yet but, of course, I didn't know she would die while we were away.

Other than a heart murmur and some kidney problems, short of kidney failure, Cutie still gets around okay, and is holding her weight. She is completely deaf and takes Cosequin for arthritis but she still chases Ella, who is five, around the house, and has managed to maintain her position as the alpha cat, but not without some challengers from Ella. Fortunately, or maybe because she's just a polite girl, Ella doesn't push it too far.

I do not intend to be away for longer than a day or two for the rest of Cutie's life, and I hope that she'll be with us a long time, although realizing that, at 27, she won't be around too much longer.

Ella is better socialized than our other cats were so, were she to be our only cat at some point, we could stay at pet-friendly places and take her with us.
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Old 03-09-2018, 02:25 AM
Selena Selena is offline
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I must admit I'm a bit jealous - Lydia made it to almost 27 and Cutie is still with you. Not often does a fur-baby live that long.

I have family near by but will have to find another sitter as we'll all be at the same event this summer.
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