As a favor to a friend that runs a shelter, I recently took in a cat on a fostering basis with potential adoption afterwards because she needs to be spayed. My friend felt she did not have the extra time to devote to caring for her during the post spay rehab. The arrangement was for me to get her settled in here for a couple weeks, get her spayed then see if adoption is right for her and for us. Almost two weeks later I am convinced she is grieving the loss of her human. She has been at the shelter and up for adoption since last February and has bonded with my friend. She is normally a very interactive, loving and outgoing cat (I'm told) but here she seems to be depressed and sleeps constantly, rarely leaving her corner in the laundry room. She is very fearful of my resident cats who show no aggression towards her. I'm convinced she is grieving and it got me to thinking about this subject.
I pulled this article from the internet and am posing this question to my fellow cat lovers: Have you found that adoption from home based shelters that have loving human caregivers and bonded relationships is harder on the cat than adopting from a city shelter where the cat has been locked up in cages? Twice I've adoped from loving home based shelters, and twice it's been a diffficult process for the cat because of what I think is grieving. Thoughts?
ADOPTING A GRIEVING CAT
Sometimes a change in routine is unavoidable when a human companion dies and the cat has to be rehomed. Shelters and adopters of such cats must be prepared for the behavioural changes detailed previously - these will often be more severe than if the cat was able to grieve in familiar surroundings. In addition to bereavement, the cat is facing the additional stress of a change of home, a change of human companions and unfamiliar surroundings and scents.
Don't expect such a cat to be playful and companionable immediately you adopt it. Be tolerant of toileting accidents and if it want to spend time alone, allow it to do so, but keep a watchful eye on its eating habits and physical appearance (e.g. self-neglect, weight loss).
Once it has accepted you as the new caregiver, it may become clingy - having lost one human in its life, it may not want to let you out of its sight. If you are away from home during part of the day, you could leave a recently worn tee-shirt in the cat's bed as a comforter. Alternatively, it may remain aloof to begin with as though afraid to build up a new relationship so soon. Don't press attention on an unwilling cat, but spend time in the same room and talk to it (stroking it if possible) so that it knows you are a permanent fixture in its life. Encourage it to interact with you. The settling-in process may take longer and be slower, so be patient.