Lost a Mom, Gained a Cat

Dear Tabby,

My mother tried her best but she wasn’t able to keep up with the needs of her senior cat Toby. Toby just wasn’t thriving anymore and Mom couldn’t handle watching Toby’s wellness decline. Toby was losing weight inspite of eating and drinking water. In fact, all Toby seemed to want to do was eat and drink water.

He even started meowing throughout the night as if he was lonely, confused, or wanted something. Mom eventually asked if I would take over Toby’s care at my home. Even though we live hundreds of miles apart, she did not know what else to do and we all thought that perhaps Toby just needed change. My husband and I talked it over and we agreed to take Toby in. One of the first things we did was have Toby evaluated by our family vet and he found Toby’s thyroid to be overactive and diagnosed him with hyperthyroid disease. Toby was prescribed daily medication and within a few weeks Toby was acting more like his old self.

The vet also suggested we take Toby to a groomer, which I didn’t know cats needed. I thought cats clean themselves. Admittedly, when our vet recommended that Toby be groomed, we started appreciating more that Toby had a pretty oily coat with knots and tangles. Our vet explained that hyperthyroid disease can cause a cat’s coat to become greasy and matted. We took Toby to Cats in the City and they really cleaned him up. His coat was free from tangles and the bath they gave him removed the grease and dandruff buildup. My mom came to visit the other day and commented on how Toby seemed spirited and joyful again. But rather than saying she was so glad Toby was doing well in our home, she said she was ready to take Toby back to her house. When she asked us to care for Toby at our home, she never said it was temporary or just until we got him feeling better. I told her that Toby had a new home and that it was best that he stay with us. Though she tried to not show it, Mom grew upset and things just haven’t been quite the same since I told her Toby was staying with us. My concern is that she thinks Toby will continue to do well at her home, but I think he’s doing well at our place because we’re meeting his needs. I don’t know what to do.

Lost a Mom, Gained a Cat

Dear Lost a Mom, Gained a Cat,

Toby is very lucky to have so many people who love him. We often say it can take a village to raise a cat. Generally cats are considered property. Once your mom gave you Toby, he became your cat. By not stating upfront that she would eventually want Toby back, it would have been implied that your mom intended for you to have permanent custody of Toby. Surely she is overjoyed that Toby is thriving again.

She likely needs a little more time to get comfortable with the idea of Toby not coming back to her. If it is the case that Toby’s needs were just too advanced for your mom and that she is generally able to care for a younger, healthier cat, there are lots of cats needing forever homes. Perhaps in time you could suggest helping your mom adopt a cat that is within her abilities. If your mom is able to accept that Toby is yours and heal your relationship, she can be the best grandma to Toby, and she can spoil him. That’s what grandmas do best and that’s what Toby deserves.

Meowly, Tabby

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