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My Pet World: Seeking forgiveness from one's long-departed cat

May 22, 2012|By Steve Dale

Question: I once lived in Highland Park, Ill., with a cat named Poco. We were inseparable. When he was diagnosed with kidney stones, I had to give him up. I just couldn't afford treatment in 1987.

I still miss Poco very much. How do I ask for forgiveness when he depended on me for everything? I feel like I let him down big time.

— C.H., Bloomington, Ind.

Answer: How I wish we had the power to change the past, but so far, that can't be done. And I don't have the power to exonerate you. Besides, who am I? I've made mistakes too. Like you, I suffer from the human condition of being imperfect.

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Perhaps you did let your cat down all those years ago. Then again, since 1987, we've learned a great deal about treating kidney stones in cats. It's possible that when Poco was ill, little could be done.

You could atone by saving a life. If you don't currently have a pet, you could adopt from a shelter. A cat with the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) might be a great choice, or a middle-aged cat who otherwise might never find a home.

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Q: My female cat has become a bird-killing machine. She's been an indoor/outdoor kitty for several years now. Safety collars (with bells to warn wildlife) come off. Is there a better idea? — E.C., Rutledge, Tenn.

A: Ideally, the best solution is to keep your cat indoors.

For one thing, she'll be safer. While your cat is a predator, cats can also become prey for birds of prey, coyotes and, worst of all, cars. Outdoors, cats may nibble toxic plants or lap up deadly antifreeze. In the winter, they may seek warmth under car hoods, then become mangled when unsuspecting drivers start their engines.

Also, people who allow their cats outside aren't being very neighborly. A roaming cat may use a neighbor's garden as toilet, or drive the neighbor's indoor cat batty just walking past the window. Cats also kill songbirds and other wildlife.

If your cat was formerly feral, or has been living outdoors her entire life, I know it might be challenging to convert her to an indoor existence. The secret is to make life more interesting inside by enriching your cat's environment.

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