Cat Ownership – Sharing The Responsibility (with strangers)

You find that you do not have the time to care for your cat 24/7. You have to travel and you have family commitments. You know that some people would like to have a cat but not 24/7. In fact, there are many timeshare cats in the country already. They are cats that travel between 2 homes and share the facilities of both homes including the food on offer. Timeshare cats are an informal arrangement. What about formalising that arrangement and putting together cat owners who no longer have the commitment or the time to care for their cat 24 hours a day with like-minded people who are yet to own a cat? Sounds ridiculous? Does it sound as if it might promote irresponsible cat caretaking? Should a cat owner even consider letting someone else care for their cat for a few days a week on a regular basis?

dog ownership sharing

Header from the BorrowMyDoggy.com website

I suppose the idea, if one is brutally honest, might have some merit because in many countries – I am referring to places like Turkey – there are community cats. These are cats that are not formally owned as a possession but cats living within the community and who share what’s on offer by the community. You might argue that this is a preferable system. One thing is for sure which is that you eliminate the concept of ownership of a cat under the community cat system. But who takes responsibility when a cat is ill?

The interesting thing about what I’ve stated is that this is exactly what is happening in the UK right now in respect of the domestic dog. A website has started up called BorrowMyDoggy.com which puts together a dog owners with what they call “dog borrowers”. The site is pulling in 10,000 subscribers a month and they are about to launch a smart phone app. The website is a burgeoning success story and it is founded, it seems, on the increasingly busy lives of people in the modern world who own a dog and who can no longer fully commit to the responsibilities of dog ownership.

One of the two founders of this website, Rikkie Rosenlund, states that most owners can’t be with their dog 24-hour the day and a lot of these people know how happy dogs make people and they remember what it was like when they didn’t or couldn’t have won themselves.

How does the website work? Well, it appears to be a mixture of the holiday letting website “Airnb” and the dating smartphone app “Tinder”. The dog owner subscribes to the website at £35 annually and places details of their dog on the website. Visitor subscribers “favourite” dogs that they like and the dog owner is able to respond in the same way and when there is a match they can get together and make arrangements for a dog share.

Wendy Scott lives in Peckham Rye, South London with her miniature schnauzer, Alfie. She regularly finds borrowers on the website and find it very useful. Wendy is single and lives on her own so she has no one to help look after Alfie. She says that Alfie gets a real kick from new company because he has lots of energy. At the same time, Wendy says that it gives her the opportunity to take a rest.

What do you think? Do you think that right now a couple of people are setting up a similar website for cats? And if so do think it’ll take off?

Of course, there is a big difference between a dog and a cat. The have different personalities. The dog is more needy while the cat is more independent (to put it into round terms) but does this difference in personality make any difference to the potential success of this idea?

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Cat Ownership – Sharing The Responsibility (with strangers) — 12 Comments

  1. Michael,

    Purrsonally I don’t think it will fly. Dogs are far more “sociable” with strangers than cats. I think that cats may become confused with so many strangers. I would worry about how the cats would be cared for.

    When my husband and I get a chance to get away for a few days or longer, we have a wonderful cat sitter. She also has been cleaning our house every two weeks for at least 8 years now. Our cats know her really well. But the first time we went on vacation and left our cats at home in the capable hands of the sitter, she had a heck of a time feeding them. It took almost a day before they started eating and I was a wreck- and about to come home – thankfully they did eat for her.

    This happened again, the second time we went away. They started eating sooner, but it was a bit nerve-wracking. Finally, our recent trip to Virginia to attend the pet blogger conference, all went great.

    So I think this is not a great idea for cats! I think it’s wonderful for dogs, however.

    • So I think this is not a great idea for cats! I think it’s wonderful for dogs, however.

      Interesting. What we are saying is that the cat’s personality is so different it can’t work. If dogs are so easy going about their human companions how can dog owners call them best friends? They can’t be.

  2. Michael, my personal experience of owning both cats and dogs tells me that cats find it difficult to adjust to new people or new places unlike dogs. Dogs are more friendly with human strangers unlike most cats that are usually aloof and even have strange feeding habits. I travel a lot and my house=keeper Sabina looks after the cats in my absence.If i left my cats with someone else then my male cat matata would definitely refuse to eat as he has to be pampered for eating akin to a human kid, besides he has the pathological bad habit of yowling at night. Which person would tolerate such a cat in a house-hold ?. My female cat Matahari would be able to survive in a different house-hold as she has no fuss about being fed and relishes her meals once put in a plate in front of her.My biggest handicap on tours is the upkeep of my two cats which to date has been managed by my house-keeper.There is a day and night difference between dogs and cats regarding adjustments to human strangers and new house locations. When i was in South Shield in England during the winter of 1985/86 i loved taking my land-lady’s German Shepherd dog for a occasional walk also meeting other dog-owners.Remember, this dog was a German Shepherd and not some small toy breed dog and hence could be dangerous if violent. This proves that dogs adjust to strangers easily.

    • There is a day and night difference between dogs and cats regarding adjustments to human strangers and new house locations.

      I tend to agree and Jo says the same thing. As I have stated elsewhere, the dog to human bond must be weaker than the cat to human bond or is all about adjusting to a new place. Perhaps the answer is that the dog is more domesticated than the cat.

      I think it might work is the cat given time to adjust.

  3. I wouldn’t share our cats with anyone else, no one can know their special little ways like their own caretakers and having two homes would be very confusing for cats.
    A bit like a child of split up parents being passed from one to the other. Cats, like children need a stable home.
    If anyone is too busy to spend time with their cat then they shouldn’t have one, they must have some leisure time, everyone has, but maybe it’s more important to some people to watch TV or go socialising or on holiday than give their cat some attention.

  4. Ethel and Insp. McWee were surprisingly extra/extroverted with strangers – both would come up to people they knew only as visitors and want to be pet.

    On the face of it, the idea sounds promising. I have a librarian friend who can never go anywhere on a weekend, etc. because of her cats. It was always the same under this roof. I could never join anyone for a TGIF after-hours fest without going home for an hour, to feed and talk to and hold my pet parrot (my apt. was a five-minute walk from work). Same when I moved down here — would usually drive home (again, a five minute commute) from the office to be with E. and McW. during lunch hour.

    The flip side? ‘Free, free at last!’ said Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Last week I went out to a beautiful cove on the beach right across the road from a pioneer graveyard with lichen-covered headstones indicating that some of the departed were children while Beethoven was still living. The cove has windrows of ancient tree roots silvered by the sand and sea — booming surf — immense solitude. But as the sun began to sink, my conscience said for me to get home to Ethel who’d be waiting for her Mom. Which is when it kicked in – the sorrowful realization that there WAS no Little Ethel…no need to go home to anyone. Perfect freedom.

    If it would work for cats, though – what a great idea! But would you give them to strangers – of course not! – or to friends they barely knew? No. So cat-parents are stuck at home seven days weekly. My own greatest fear would be that my cats would slip out their door inadvertently — which would be the end. Dogs? Yes. With stringent reservations. But cats? Very dicey, unless they knew the people’s house as well as they knew the people.

    When my mother was dying, I asked my best friends in the neighborhood – a marred couple – if they could please, please cover him at night and uncover him in the morning. Also offered to pay them for their trouble. Well, I returned home at noon the next day, and there sat Shoo-Fly pie in his covered cage, in a dark and cold room. Would you trust anyone with your furred or feathered kids? I wouldn’t.

    • My greatest worries would be (a) whether my cat would settle down but I think this would happen after a few goes at it and (b) whether the borrowers could genuinely do a good job and ensure my cat’s safety. It seems to be that this website is rather cavalier about that. Professional cat sitters are carefully selected but who is selecting the people who subscribe to the BorrowMyDoggy.com website? You might get some unscrupulous people stealing pets etc..

      At the moment I would not contemplate it in any shape or form unless the “borrower” was a close friend and known to be utterly reliable.

  5. Really not workable here. My indoor cats are, well, indoor, the indoor/outdoor cats would never trust another human, and the ferals are in a world of their own.
    It would have never worked with any of the handful of dogs that I’ve had either. They were completely one person (Me) beings. Maybe, it’s because they had so little exposure to other humans. Don’t know.

  6. i did try to look after someone else cat for a few weeks. i dont think i could do it myself. i find it hard myself to make myself go away on holiday for even a weekend or a week. the thought of going away and leaving my cats behind is very stressing. Once had to go away for a weekend when had just moved and was constantly worried about how things were. So i dont think i could do this. I have to have someone i can trust that’s a cat person i dont even want family to do it. Thankfully have got a good friend who doesn’t mind. The cats prob wouldn’t mind apart from possibly tiger and smokey as they the most sensitive and shy. im prob going to go away in august for a few days for some respite care in Dunedin. So will have to go now since its all been made. 🙁

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