As a cat caretaker have you made mistakes?

Cat caretaking mistakes

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Cat caretaking involves making decisions. There is a responsibility. Cat caretakers are in a position of trust and only the caretaker herself is making sure her decisions are good. There is no overseeing third party. Mistakes are made.

Of course, you have to be concerned and thoughtful about cat caretaking to be aware of a mistake you might have made.

You know the old adage: ignorance is bliss. Ignorant people can make all the mistakes in the world and be unmoved by them. They have no knowledge of them until perhaps a vet steps in.

The mistakes I have made were because of ignorance. They happened years ago. Looking back they seem silly, which proves the point that a lot of the problems with cat ownership could be rectified through education. I would really like to see something happen with respect to cat care education. I am just not sure what it might be. Caring for a cat is not all common sense. It is an acquired skill.

The first mistake some people make is not realising what it takes to be a good cat caretaker. It’s a mistake that is made before they even care for a cat.

One mistake I made haunts me – letting my cat Missie go out unsupervised. She died on a road. She was like a daughter. The year: 1994. Twenty years later it is like yesterday.

Another mistake I made was feeding my Binnie dry cat food for a long time on the advice of a vet. It was Hills c/d. At the time – at least ten years ago – I didn’t know better. As far as I am concerned, the food contributed to a urinary tract infection and cystitis. Thankfully, it was cured quite easily.

Sometimes it is difficult to know if you did the right thing or not. On the spur of the moment without any forethought I adopted my current cat, Charlie. I was already looking after an elderly cat, Binnie. Binnie accepted Charlie, just. She never really liked him. Charlie was more relaxed. I was pulled between two desires: to help Charlie who had lost his caretaker, my mother on her death, and to care for Binnie as best I could in her old age.

Do we learn from our cat caretaking mistakes?

Well, when I move home I select a new place on this basis (a) is it good for a cat? (b) is it good for me? – in that order.

I agree that cats should be allowed to go out but….the area should be safe and when at a new place close supervision of a cat outside is essential for her safety.

Wet cat food is best – raw cat food is better (at least potentially).

I learned that it is worthwhile trying out different veterinarians. Some are better than others and the nearest one might not be the best one. A good, honest, experienced vet is like an insurance policy. If and when your cat is seriously ill you need high quality help.

For the future

I am determined to find a supplier of good quality raw food supplement in the UK so that I can add a raw food element to my cat’s diet. I owe it to him to balance his diet with the real thing.

10 thoughts on “As a cat caretaker have you made mistakes?”

    • Thank you for sharing Mousie Tongue’s story. What a beautiful cat. Very hard lessons learned. Everything you said about POC is so true. I was lucky in that when Bigfoot came into my life-actually walking right up to the house, like he knew-I found POC straight away while trying to find information on multi-toed cats. In those days, POC was the top ten on the google pages. And still is in my book…but so much has changed on the internet. Michael is always the best of the best.

  1. What I love the most about this site is the information we share about feline care.

    Who knew- early on- when getting a first cat what was the best food- the best way to communicate with cats- the best way to know when something is amiss and TRUST that feeling and press on if accurate answers are not forthcoming?

    How many people, early on in their relationships with cats knew how to accurately access the competence of their vets? Who knew about alternative treatments in conjunction with traditional treatments can work more efficently?

    As an example, I had a remarkable Meezer named Mousie Tongue. We named him that because whenever he was petted his tongue would whip out and start licking the person who was petting him. It also was a pun on Chairman Mau due to his breed.

    One day, out of the blue, he began defecating on the blankets, and quilts in our bedroom. He was NOT declawed… my vet told me it was a marking behavior and to cover everything with plastic- which I did not do. I had a gut feeling that something was wrong. He peed in the box- just pooped on blankets and soft objects.

    I trusted this vet and just assumed she was right. We tried feliway, and other calming remedies which I thought might be soothing and to stop him “marking” his territories.

    I was using this vet because she was mobile and very sweet. But when she went on vacation, I took Mousie to a feline- only specialist who after a thorough exam including x-rays diagnosed him with megacolon.

    We followed his treatment plan to the letter- and he began to start using the litter box again. Sadly, years after we moved to Florida, (Mousie was a patient of another feline practitioner- a dear friend) the medications stopped working.

    Mousie underwent surgery to correct the condition, but due to an underlying condition which was almost impossible to diagnose (we learned about it after the necropsy) he died in my arms one Saturday afternoon when I visited him at the clinic where he had been in the Intensive Care unit for almost six weeks.

    I still cringe at my major mistake of trusting the mobile vet and waiting precious months- of proper diagnosis and treatment. Perhaps if the surgery had been performed earlier, my amazing angel kitty might have lived many more years. He was only 8 when he died.

    Networking on this site- asking questions- wanting to learn more and how to better take care of our kitties is truly a blessing to me.

    And we continue to learn- and grow.. Thanks, Michael for an excellent topic today.

  2. There’s that saying “we live and learn” and of course we do, I’ve made plenty of mistakes and bad decisions over cats and their care in my time and I deeply regret them BUT they also say “hindsight is a wonderful thing” and it is, once we know more than we did then we understand what we did wrong but at the time we did what we thought was right which is a long way different to acting carelessly or neglectfully. Maybe we should all make a pact to forgive ourselves for things we didn’t do out of badness but simply out of thinking we were doing the right thing.

  3. Michael I can relate to you with regard to Missie – very much so. I have learn’t alot over the years – when I started out I didn’t understand the value of play. Not at all. My cat was free to go out anytime. It was pretty laissez faire. She is alive now – had her 3rd bladder infection this year I learned I am worried about her. Did I do the right thing leaving her there? Yes I think it would have been selfish to make her endure the journey. But I am not so sure – she really loved me and she would run and jump up on my shoulder while I was still arriving on my bike. She would have been very happy here too. I feel it was her who missed out on the benefits of my cat knowledge – if only I could care for her now and show her how much I have changed and maybe she would respond and flourish too – it’s hard thinking about all that.

    But I have learned a lot – sometimes the hard way. But I am a beginner – my cats are young and the one who is old is far away.

  4. Yes I’ve made mistakes through ignorance over the 40 years we’ve had cats. I don’t think any cat lover is ever perfect, we can only learn as we go along, by experience.
    I think willingness to listen and learn is very important, never ever to think we know it all.
    My biggest mistakes left me feeling guilty forever, I knew something was wrong with Bryan, but let the vets convince me it was nothing serious, by the time one diagnosed him with cancer it was too late. Then when Popsy had chest problems and we were to and fro the same vets for months and none of them could diagnose the trouble. Finally one suggested seeing a cat specialist, but Popsy died on the way. I WISH I’d asked about a specialist before then, my mistake was trusting our vets. The specialist was only 3 miles from where we live, could he have saved Popsy? We will never know. Why didn’t we change practices when they let us down over Bryan? Then Tamuri our neighbour’s cat who almost lived with us, why didn’t we hide him until they’d emigrated? He ended up run over and killed in his new home. Why wouldn’t they leave him with us, I failed him!
    The thing is, we are only human and looking back is different to being there at that time.
    The main thing is to learn by our mistakes!

  5. Plenty of mistakes over the years. But, bells can’t be unrung; so I learn, move on (usually after beating myself up), and try not to make the same mistakes.

    • Un-ringing bells is right. But consider what you do now Dee. The huge undertaken of taking care of feral cats is bound to offer plenty of lessons along the way. Having cats at home does too. It is the way of life. Happy, happy, happy, bummer, bummer…happy again. It is the learning that makes it worthwhile.

      I’ll avoid listing my mistakes. I prefer to focus on what I’ve learned and work on being a better companion and caretaker. Upward and on.

      • I think, for all of us, it’s an ongoing education. There’s always something new that I never knew before.
        Who needs the Discovery Channel on television when life with a cat is so intriguing and entertaining?


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