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a_tigger
11-22-2009, 18:12
I'm planning to do a southbound thru-hike this year (although it may realistically be in 2011) and the biggest challange that i can't come up with a solution is what to do with my two house cats. anyone else come across this delima. what options are there?

ShelterLeopard
11-22-2009, 18:22
Got any farm relatives they could live with? Of course, they may get really attached to the farm life. The only option for a thru is to do something a bit more permanent- I don't think it would be feasible to have someone just come a feed your cats for 6 months, and your cats would be sad.

Maybe a friend of your's has always wanted a cat, but can't keep one forever, so they'd like to have one for a couple months?

Ah, whatever. Least helpful post in the world.

Jack Tarlin
11-22-2009, 18:26
As a cat person, I'm going to give you a very blunt answer, tho I suspect you already know what it is:

You have three options here.

*You can endeavor to find a responsible loving home for your pets (i.e. friends or family members) who will take care of them and their needs for the six months that you are away. This will be hard to do, but I hope you find a way.

*You can give your cats to a shelter. There are indeed "no kill" shelters but they are few and far between and because of the present economic situation, some are closing or are no longer taking new animals. And older animals are notoriously difficult when it comes to finding adoptive homes. If you give your cats to a shelter that is not "No Kill" they will almost certainly be euthanized within a few weeks.

*Third option is to postpone your trip.

Sorry, but that's about the size of it. This is a very difficult thing, and it's one of the reasons I've postponed pet ownershop for 15 years, tho I'd love to have some kitties around the place. As soon as I give up long-ditance hiking, I'm adopting two cats and learning how to garden.

Whatever you do, very best of luck and I hope everything works out for you.

johnnybgood
11-22-2009, 18:28
No relatives to take in the cats ? Neighbors that could watch them ?

If no , then ask your vet if he/she could help with finding someone to care for your cats . My cats veterinarians office has young eager assistants that have taken in stray animals that were brought for care.

if nothing else place ads in local papers .

ShelterLeopard
11-22-2009, 18:29
Hey: idea. You might be able to find someone who will be hiking the year after you, and needs someone to take their cats. So, they take your cats this year, you take their cats next year! Not extremely probable, but would be cool. Best option is asking your relatives to take 'em for a bit. The problem 'll be getting 'em back.

The Weasel
11-22-2009, 18:29
SL:

People who (like me and Tigger) know there is a special name in California for "farm cats." It's call, "Coyote food." That's different from what suburbanites here call outdoor cats, which is "Coyote snacks." (Coyotes in the 'burbs consider ankle biters and dogs to be entrees.)

Tigger might look for 'cat rescue' homes or other cat owners in her/his area. I might also check the local Sierra Club (join!) which will have a lot of hikers who might sympathize and support a thru by being a cat partner for a few months or so.

TW

ShelterLeopard
11-22-2009, 18:32
Hm... I live in farm area in Jersey, where farm cats are fat, happy mouse chasers and don't get eaten by wild beasts. So, I don't know California in terms of wild animals at all. Scratch the farm suggestion!

The Weasel
11-22-2009, 18:44
For others, and not just SL:

"Farm cats" have a generally short life expectancy, and that is changing as coyote and other medium predators move back into suburban (former farmland) territory. I lost a 20# "mouser" to a barn owl, and that's not uncommon. Large raptors (including eagles and, I'm told, occasionally hawks) will attack cats, even large ones. Farm cats are a necessary part of farms and homes in the country, to minimize the rodent population. But they don't last as long as the happy stereotypes make it out to be.

Jack is right: Responsible pet ownership is extraordinarily difficult for long distance hikers as it is with any other vagabonds: You can travel, you can have pets, but absent serious wealth, you can't do both. Not without extreme inconvenience to you, others, and, most of all, the pet you are abandoning for months at a time.

That's the last part that a lot of pet owners forget whey they give Barko or Garfield to a friend to 'watch' for 5 or 6 months. Pets suffer extreme stress, even mental illness, from separation anxiety. Your cat or dog loves you, depends on you for food, for warmth, for play, for companionship, for everything. You are the center of its limited universe. It feels joy when it sees you, and wants nothing other than to be with you and be happy.

Then you just leave it one day. You give it to someone on a farm or another hosue that doesn't know the type of toy it likes, or how it finds a place in the yard to pee that makes it happy, or anything. It's whole life is destroyed, and it has no idea why or that it will ever be the same. Or maybe you give it to a "shelter". Yeah, probably - maybe not, but hey! - it will be adopted. If it is, that means that about the time you get to Harper's Ferry it won't be taken from the cage it lived in for 90 days and put into a big tank with a few dozen other animals and the air sucked out as it takes 10 minutes to die.

Jack wasn't blunt. Jack was being gentle. The reality is that if you have a pet, and you're not taking it with you, don't try a thru. Doing so is cruel to something that can't protect itself, especially from someone it loves unconditionally.

TW

saimyoji
11-22-2009, 18:47
no matter how much he begs and pleads, no matter how caring and responsible he may sound......do not, i repeat, do NOT let warragyi'mgay cat sit for you. he will eat their brains.

Jack Tarlin
11-22-2009, 18:49
I agree with most of what Weasel just said, but cats are more adaptable than dogs.

One caveat, tho: Whoever takes your kitties might become quite fond of them, and the cats might in turn discover that they're very happy in their new home, so keep in mind that when you have someone "sit" for your pets for six months, it might turn out to be forever. And this is not necessarily a bad thing, as many A.T. hikers discover that their thru-hike is not the last of their big travel adventures and it'd be REALLYunfair to do this to your pets every other year. What I'm saying is that if you turn your pets over to someone else, be aware that you may well be saying goodbye. And this might be for the best, but in any case, it's important that you realize this.

Appalachian Tater
11-22-2009, 18:50
Outdoor cats get run over by cars more often than they get eaten by coyotes or other animals. Either that or they just disappear.

saimyoji
11-22-2009, 18:57
Either that or they just disappear.

eaten by warrgies....

Manwich
11-22-2009, 19:45
ShelterLeopard, just an FYI, in August I was biking through Suburbia, East Brunswick NJ (Not too far from you) and I saw a Coyote run across the street. Followed him a bit to make sure I saw what I saw. Sure enough. They're this far down south now. No doubt picking off the strays.

ShelterLeopard
11-22-2009, 20:38
Hmm- we have a couple wolf dogs that occasionally escape from a local breeder, and a couple farmers have had trouble with coyotes and their sheep last summer, but we honestly don't see them much.

warraghiyagey
11-22-2009, 20:38
They make a delicious stew. . . :)

ShelterLeopard
11-22-2009, 20:38
But in New Brunswick? That's crazy- I wouldn't have expected them to be there.

garlic08
11-23-2009, 11:00
I agree with the general flow here, that pet ownership and thru hiking are mutually exclusive. If you love a pet, don't thru hike--yet.

You're young--you can hike later, at a time when there aren't pets in your life. Many hikers work for many years, sometimes decades, to arrange the circumstances for their hike. There are lots of gray-haired hikers out there, and many of them just didn't wake up one day in their 50s or 60s and decide to try out the AT.

ShelterLeopard
11-23-2009, 11:11
That's what surprised me so much! (Did he get there by commuter train???) But East Brunswick makes more sense.

ShelterLeopard
11-23-2009, 11:15
Another thing (that I just thought of), is that you need to make sure you want to do a thru. Go do a weeklong section somewhere that is similar to the AT in both terrain and difficulty. That way, you won't blow all your money on getting to GA, realize you don't want to do it, come home after a week and have no cat to comfort you.

harryfred
11-23-2009, 12:33
I guess I'm a cat person. My wife has 7 of them (OK I like them too).Even when we were moving around a lot we had cats. I grew up with a lot of cats as people dumped their cats out in the woods when they were done with them( all 7 of our current cats are rescue cats). I have had to give up cats to farms and I have lived in the Mojave desert in California. Sooo here is my opinions.

Cats are better than dogs if you like to travel with out them for short times. If you have good friends/neighbors/family, to check their feed change their water and maybe clean the box. they are good for a week maybe a day or two more.

If you have to give them up long term the kindest thing is to take them to the vet for the "needle". Then go shed some tears in the corner and convince yourself it was only a cat.

Cats on a farm do have a high mortality rate and it is very high for a "pet" left there. I had to do that with two and they did not last a week. I also worked farms and saw the same.

Multiple cats in a house: One cat is a nice friend, two cats are a lot of fun. After that they become a lot of work. The house always smells like a litter box, you can not keep ahead of the fur, the clawing of furniture and corners is unstoppable, and someone is always having "issues" that result in inappropriate peeing and pooing outside the litter box. Keep this in mind before you give your cats to someone else that has cats.

SheLep, coyote's do eat pets and they have invaded the east and they are coming your way I saw one just north of Eckville Shelter in early Sept.

Read Jack Tarlins and The Weasel's post carefully as they make a lot of sense. Yes, Jack you forgot option # four. See my option # 1.

I'm going to go hug and scratch the ears of my crippled saddle back kitty.

Over The Edge

Blissful
11-23-2009, 12:43
If you have to give them up long term the kindest thing is to take them to the vet for the "needle". Then go shed some tears in the corner and convince yourself it was only a cat.




I don't know...maybe it's because I had to put my sweet beagle to sleep for a severe medical condition a year ago in Dec, but to kill an animal just so someone can go hiking to me sounds really cruel and selfish. If you are a hiker, don't get pets to begin with or take the time to find them a good temp or permanent home. Be a responsible pet owner or don't own pets. Count the cost.

harryfred
11-23-2009, 13:05
I don't know...maybe it's because I had to put my sweet beagle to sleep for a severe medical condition a year ago in Dec, but to kill an animal just so someone can go hiking to me sounds really cruel and selfish. If you are a hiker, don't get pets to begin with or take the time to find them a good temp or permanent home. Be a responsible pet owner or don't own pets. Count the cost.
I agree whole heartedly. That is what I said what I said.

ShelterLeopard
11-23-2009, 13:14
I don't know...maybe it's because I had to put my sweet beagle to sleep for a severe medical condition a year ago in Dec, but to kill an animal just so someone can go hiking to me sounds really cruel and selfish. If you are a hiker, don't get pets to begin with or take the time to find them a good temp or permanent home. Be a responsible pet owner or don't own pets. Count the cost.

Very true- pets are not disposable toys, they're beings.

Off to Jamaica for a week, guess Tibbles has to go... That is awful.

Trail Trooper
11-23-2009, 13:26
they make good egg roll filling

sheepdog
11-23-2009, 13:44
Find someone to watch the cats and go hiking. It will be a lot easier to find a home for cats than find some other time to hike. If they are like my cat, I'd come home in six monthes and it would look at me, stretch and say "were you gone? I hadn't noticed."

Slo-go'en
11-23-2009, 13:47
Yep, having a kitty and being addicted to long distance hiking don't mix. I had a friend who looked after my cat when I went on extended trips. Neither the cat or my friend were really fond of that arragment. I did carry her up to the Gray Knob cabin when I was caretaker there for 9 months and she had the best time of her life up there. Not only did she keep the cabin free of mice, but she had a knack of knowing who was allergic to cats and cuddle up on thier sleeping bag up in the loft :-)

She evently meet her match with a preditor meaner then she was. Outdoor cats generally don't have a long life span living on the edge of the National forest in Randolph, which was were I was at the time. But, she was getting old and had a good life. Since then, I've resisted the urge to get another kitty.

sheepdog
11-23-2009, 13:50
I have had an outdoor cat for 9 years. He never comes in the house and sleeps in the garage. We live in a wild area and he is the master of his domain. He is good at dodging coyotes, owls and the many bald eagles and ospreys we have. He is a lean, mean, mousing machine.

Sometimes on this site we over-preach the doom.

Philip
11-23-2009, 15:32
That is a tough one. I too have a cat and intend to SOBO 2010. I love the little critter to death and have to admit I am a bit worried about how she'll fare during my absence. Luckily in my case, my mother loves animals and has a cat of her own, so she has agreed to keep mine while I'm gone. Though I'm eight months away from the hike, I have already begun bringing my cat along on Sunday dinners to get the two cats used to each other and get mine comfortable with being at my mom's place. Hopefully this way there won't be as big of a shock when the time comes (for either of us).

Best of luck in finding temporary shelter for yours. I'm sure you'll get something worked out before you leave. There's still plenty of time. Take care.

Jester2000
11-23-2009, 15:34
Bring your cats with you.

paradoxb3
11-23-2009, 17:30
LOL As I sit here and read the replies about "dont dare leave your pets" I cant help but laugh about how many threads i've read regarding "what to do if my gf/bf/spouse doesnt want me to thru-hike" and how often the overwelming response was "go anyway." :rolleyes:

Jester2000
11-23-2009, 17:54
LOL As I sit here and read the replies about "dont dare leave your pets" I cant help but laugh about how many threads i've read regarding "what to do if my gf/bf/spouse doesnt want me to thru-hike" and how often the overwelming response was "go anyway." :rolleyes:

Most, though admittedly not all, significant others can take care of themselves. And most, though admittedly not all, are trained to use a toilet.

XCskiNYC
11-23-2009, 18:32
I don't know...maybe it's because I had to put my sweet beagle to sleep for a severe medical condition a year ago in Dec, but to kill an animal just so someone can go hiking to me sounds really cruel and selfish. If you are a hiker, don't get pets to begin with or take the time to find them a good temp or permanent home. Be a responsible pet owner or don't own pets. Count the cost.

I couldn't agree with you more. If I get another pet I am going to get pet insurance. Partly for the kick of knowing my pet has better medical coverage than I do. Just kidding..... Really, it's so I won't ever have to face another situation of needing emergency medical care for a pet and getting mugged for a couple grand to get it. Instead I'd rather be mugged in regular, moderate payments by a pet insurance company.:cool:

To the OP, this may not help you much, but there are kennels (if that's the right word) that specialize in cats. I used one here in the city and it was expensive (about $25/day) but at least I got my cat back alive.

It might work out for you to advertise for a local person who would be willing to take your cat in exchange for a small boarding fee. Less than you would pay a regular kennel, but enough to make it worth the person's trouble. To up the motivation, you could pay down maybe 5% of the agreed-upon amount with the rest paid upon you getting your cat back alive and well. Personally, I wouldn't do it any other way.

If nothing works out, you might have to shop for a special cat-perch deck for the top of your pack so kitty can come along on the hike. Make sure to allow for plenty of stops for kitty to stretch his/her legs. I could see a cat having fun on a hike. And the mice wouldn't dare get near you guys at the shelters.

warraghiyagey
11-23-2009, 20:16
I guess I'm a cat person.

http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/Crazy_Cat_Lady.jpg

Doughnut
11-23-2009, 21:22
Got a dehydrator?

Hooch
11-23-2009, 21:57
They make a delicious stew. . . :)How do they hold the spoon to stir it? No opposable thumbs. :rolleyes: You'd think it'd have a hairball or 2 in it. :D

sbhikes
11-23-2009, 22:29
I have birds. Parrots. If you want a portable life, don't get birds.

I was lucky that I live with someone and he took care of the birds while I was away hiking. If he hadn't been there, I would have had to pay for boarding at approximately $20 per bird per day. It's very expensive.

The birds were just fine while I was away. In fact, they finally made friends with my boyfriend. And then all the being nice to him evaporated the minute I walked in the door. I think cats would care even less than my birds if you were away. They won't be tortured with anguish.

One of my birds died while I was hiking this year. I had had that bird for 1/2 of my life. I'm 44 years old. I think the rest of them are going to out-live me.

See if your mom or family will care for your cats. Or a co-worker or friend. Cats aren't too much trouble. You should pay for all their food and vet bills while you are away.

JokerJersey
11-23-2009, 22:49
I think between TW, Jack, and Blissful, everyone has said what I would have said. I think people should take the decision to get a pet no differently than they would to have a child. It's the same responsibility. If you can't or won't take that responsibility, than do the right thing and don't get/have them in the first place.

Then again, with some of the parents I see running around now, some people apparently decide to have children with the same lack of forethought as those who buy pets on a whim.

ShelterLeopard
11-23-2009, 23:24
I think between TW, Jack, and Blissful, everyone has said what I would have said. I think people should take the decision to get a pet no differently than they would to have a child. It's the same responsibility. If you can't or won't take that responsibility, than do the right thing and don't get/have them in the first place.

Then again, with some of the parents I see running around now, some people apparently decide to have children with the same lack of forethought as those who buy pets on a whim.

"Honey, what'll we do with Jimmy while we're in Bora Bora?"

"Oh, just find him a cardboard box and leave a couple pb & j sandwiches. He should be fine."

(On the other hand, a lot of parents need to be a little less controlling!!!)

Erin
11-24-2009, 00:15
I travel alot for my job (over a month) and leave my cats and home in care of a reliable friend and pet sitter. The thing about cats is that my pet sitter can come in, spend some time but does not have to live here. I do pay her to do this and she is excellent.
I know if I ever get to thru when I retire, I will hire a house checker/ sitter. I am willing to pay and it is what I have to factor in cost becasue I cannot leave my home vacant for six months or my pets alone for a thru. I think most of my pets will pass on before I retire, but if not, I will take care of them. They are wonderful pets and should not be ripped from what they are used to so I can hike and they won't.
If you can find a reliable student to live in your home and care for your cats, great. I have had friends that did this route and it worked. I live in a college town, so that is an option.
I volunteered at a shelter years ago. Please do not take your pets to a shelter. You sign the form and they are gone. Forever. I could not belive the wonderful pets that were euthanized immediately due to lack of space.

The Weasel
11-24-2009, 00:17
I have birds. Parrots. If you want a portable life, don't get birds.

I understand that the Norwegian Blue Parrot is very portable, and eats little.

TW

superman
11-24-2009, 08:58
Bring your cats with you.

Definitely bring your pets. If you run low on food you can throw it on the campfire and keep on hiking. Itís good protein.:)

JokerJersey
11-24-2009, 10:36
I understand that the Norwegian Blue Parrot is very portable, and eats little.

TW

That's funny that you should say that. So far, in the last year alone, I've met three people who hiked with thier parrots riding on thier shoulders. Made for some interesting conversation at the least. First guy I met I thought he just had a stuffed parrot on his shoulder until the thing turned and looked at me. Pretty funny stuff.

sbhikes
11-24-2009, 11:27
One of my birds is too big to ride on my shoulder. And she tends to bite my ears to hang on. The other one has to wear a leash because she can fly. I thought about bringing her with her leash, but what a pain in the butt that would have been. I might try it someday still.

The Weasel
11-24-2009, 11:32
That's funny that you should say that. So far, in the last year alone, I've met three people who hiked with thier parrots riding on thier shoulders. Made for some interesting conversation at the least. First guy I met I thought he just had a stuffed parrot on his shoulder until the thing turned and looked at me. Pretty funny stuff.

Matey, I know what a dead parrot looks like, and that's a dead parrot.

TW