I have the very best news in the world!!! I just got engaged and will be moving overseas soon! Wow, it is so very thrilling and exciting. I am very busy with all my preparations for the wedding and my move. There is soooo much to think about I feel like my head will explode sometimes.
But then in the middle of packing up boxes and happily dreaming of my future, I see my cat playing with an empty box. She is so happily unaware of what this means for her.
ALSO : Read the ultimate guide to pet adoption: 13 articles to help make the right decision with pet adoption
It's not that I didn't take her into consideration when I made the choice to get married and move. Actually, on the contrary, the agonizing decision of what will happen to her has caused me many tearful days and nights. There is NO way I can or want to take her back to the animal shelter.
In my previous article I introduced you to Peddy. My beloved cat. She has been so special to me since day one. We seem to have a very special connection and I have loved her like no other pet before her.
She really has become MY baby. Everytime I have had bad days, she would come and snuggle with me. She answers me when I call her and looks up at me like she knows what I'm saying. I sincerely cannot imagine my life without her... but the sad truth is... I cannot keep her. My heart breaks thinking of the day that I will not have her greet me at the door when I arrive or her cold nose on my face to wake me up when I've slept in too late. She has been my little ray of sunshine for so long... I honestly don't know how I can do this.
The Choice to Give my Cat Away
Yes, I know there is an option to bring her with me, but the trip is so long and hard that I fear she would have a very hard time. Not only would it be a long trip but also the climate and animal life being so different, I'm not sure she would be happy there.
So, after a lot of crying and searching for a solution, my cousin calls me to say that her and her family have been wanting to adopt a cat for awhile now and would love to take my cat in. As much as it will be hard for me to leave my cat with other people, at least she is with family and also cat lovers like me.
As painful as this process is, I know that many of you out there are or have been in the same agony as me. Our pets become our children... how can you ever imagine giving up a child??!! There are circumstances that make this step inevitable such as a move, disabilities, or allergies ect. No matter what the reason, it doesn’t make the process any easier.
I know how hard this is on me, so I thought I would share my personal experience with you and share some tips that made the transition go as smoothly as possible.
5 Tips to Make the Adoption Process Easier
This is the first time I have ever given one of my pets away, so, to be honest I really didn't know what to expect. But having adopted several animals from others in the past, I knew of certain basics steps to follow not to overwhelm or scare the pets too much.
#1 Stay Calm
I would say from this experience that a BIG #1 in cases like these is keeping your pet calm. Emotions are high, travel is involved and so many new things all at once that may very easily overwhelm the poor animal into trauma. So take deep breaths and try to stay calm and talk sweetly and reassuringly to your pet.
Animals are not dumb and can sense when something is up. For example, when I was leaving on a trip and was packing my suitcase, my cat went to lie on top of my things in the suitcase and for days she would stick to me like glue. She could sense something was up and didn't want to see me go.
Obviously I did not want my cat to go through the same kind of emotional stress when I would have to hand her over to another family. So I had to make sure I stayed calm and reassured her a lot. The other trick was the remedy I gave her to keep her calm as the day of travel came around. Usually just before a move or trip, we get everything together, lots of movement and change... this is very unsettling for a pet. So in those hecktic days before the trip I gave her some Travel Sickness remedy from Homeoanimal. This had the result of keeping her calm and lazy, not even noticing the changes around her.
I was thankful that she reacted well to the remedy so I could also keep my emotions in check during this hard time.
#2 Make definate plans and stick to them.
The reason I say this is that if you are like me, giving up your baby will be very very hard. If I didn't have a set deadline to bring her to her new home, I never would have been able to prepare myself. I would have postponed and postponed and really only made things harder. Sticking to the deadline and thinking of the reasons why I am doing this helped me move ahead.
The date was set on a good time for both her new family and for me. I had some time off so I could make the 10 hour drive and even stay there a few days.
It's not a good idea to dwell on the upcoming events too much though, that only made me cry. But enjoying my precious moments with my cat in her last days with me I will never forget. I took videos and pictures so that she will stay with me no matter where I go. I will always be able to remember her sweet face, endearing miaows and purring companionship.
#3 Give all the accessories with the pet
Please trust me on this point. Don't send your pet along without any of the familiar toys, bowl, litter box, beds, blankets...ect that they have been used to using with you for months or years. These items have comforting and familiar smells that will make them feel at home much faster.
I had adopted a cat once and the owner offered only the cat and nothing more. This cat had lived with them for many years. Being torn away so abruptly from everything she had know was a big trauma she never got over! Don't let this happen to your poor furry friend!!!
If you want to keep 1-2 special items as a souvenir from your pet, go right ahead. Just make sure to send a lot of familiar things with them. Besides, you really won't want to have too many of these items around the house only reminding you of your loss.
#4 Take it one step at a time
The first day of adoption, I stayed with my cat along the exploration process of the house to make sure she was not overwhelmed. Also everyone agreed to give her her space and let her adapt before trying to pick her up and surround her.
Having me close by to look up at and find refuge with in the beginning did help her feel more calm with all the new people and surroundings. Also, this new home has a dog. I was worried she would react very badly and hide and never come out if the dog was in the house at the beginning. So we decided to have the dog over at a friend's house for 2 days just to have a smoother adaptation period.
Once my baby was used to the house we let the dog in. Since we could say Peddy has always been an "only child" of mine, she has never had to face other animals let alone a DOG! Yet I must say she was scared but got used to the idea fast enough.
Next Step, leaving her behind... I would have loved to stay longer and just be with her always, but I have to make the break before she gets too used to me being in the house all the time. I hugged her and spoke to her as though she could understand what I was saying. At least to me it helped me say goodbye somehow.
It's hard to look back and see her clueless eyes look at me... she doesn't know what's going on like I do. Trust me when I say that this is the HARDEST part. Once this is over, the path to recovery and happy memories is just around the corner.
#5 Keep in touch
This may seem like an odd thing to recommend, but this part saved my heart a lot of trepidations and aching.
My cousin and her family could not love her more dearly or be happier to have Peddy in their lives. In the first few days I would get pictures of how comfortable and at home she is making herself with the new members of her family....even the dog!
The fact that I can know for sure that she is well taken care of and living happily was a huge step forward in letting her go. Now, I can have peace of mind that my Peddy is in the right place. I will never forget her but keep the sweet memories as I carry her always in my heart even overseas in my new life.
A New Family and a New Life
I would love to say that these tips will make the adoption so easy that no heartache or pain will be felt.... but it is not possible. As much as we love our pets, the ties will always be hard to sever. All I can say is, keep your reasons for the adoption clear and make sure your furry friend finds another kind hearted family to love for many years to come. Then, you will find moving on and forward will be less painful.
Pets are usually very resiliant and adapt well so don't worry too much. Just keep in mind that your beloved pet will find happiness in a new life and home. It is ALWAYS the best path to find them a happy home than leaving them abandoned or euthanized. Give them and yourself a chance to move forward happily with only fond memories of good times shared together in the past.