3

I've had my cat for 6 years now. a few times during his early years, I abused him. I don't have a good excuse. If I could go back in time and stop myself, I would, but I can't. I have to just live with it and be better.

While I can't fix what I've done, I did stop, but I fear I've done irreparable damage. My cat is affectionate. too affectionate. He has separation anxiety, pica, and needs to be around me constantly, and I figure it must be trauma bonding or Stockholm syndrome or something. He was taken away from his mother too early (that one wasn't my fault, I didn't do it) so he may have anxiety because of that, or maybe it's because I broke his brain. I don't know, and I want to know.

  1. He hates being away from me and follows me everywhere
  2. Refuses to get off my computer. If he wants pets, he will not allow me to not pet him
  3. Even as I was typing point 2, he was trying to nuzzle his head under my arm. He is demanding
  4. We share a bed. He sleeps at the foot of it every night
  5. He lets me boop his snoot (cats only do this if they trust you)
  6. He lays on my side
  7. He likes to cuddle between me and my computer and lay his head on my chest
  8. He became more clingy after his vet visit (he swallowed a long piece of string and had to have surgery because god dammit I don't want him to die)
  9. He's basically made of velcro and duct tape instead of fur and skin
  10. He sucks on my neck (fairly certain that one is due to him being taken from his mom too early and not because of my cruelty)
  11. Earlier, he was sleeping next to me and my laptop; just laid out like a little orange sausage

In short, he loves me too much for what I've done, so I need to know--is it best that I give him away, or is it okay for him to be with me? I read that cats don't forgive, so why does he trust me so much? Is he doing this in the hopes I won't hurt him again? I know I won't, but I doubt it's possible for me to communicate that to him. he's the most loving cat I've ever had. Is it psychologically destroying him to be around me, and that's why he's so loving, or is it because he knows he can trust me now? Is my cat's love a sign of him being damaged, or is it a sign that he's healed mentally? He's a textbook case of a codependent cat, but is that because I abused him, or because of him being taken from his mom too soon? Do I have to get rid of him for his sake?

4
  • my opinion is to keep the cat and to leave the past behind you,we canot change the past but you can change the future and i think the cat will be an important part of your future :) lots of cats are demanding and being taken from his mom too soon might be a part of it but this is 6 years ago so the behaviour of your cat right now is probably not related to this.i have had cats for 50+years and many of my cats have been seeking more attention from me than i am comfortable with,the main thing here is if you love somebody you pay attention to him or her and that is what your cat does. Jun 14, 2023 at 5:52
  • Most of these just sound like the behavior of an affectionate cat. Working from home has been great for me due to the lack of commute, but suffers regular interruptions from one or more of my cats. The only concerns are the separation anxiety and pica.
    – Allison C
    Jun 14, 2023 at 13:42
  • These are all on the spectrum of normal cat behaviour. Don't punish yourself and the cat by giving him away.
    – xLeitix
    Jun 14, 2023 at 14:49
  • Also, Stockholm Syndrome is a myth even in humans, and arguably even more ridiculous in animals.
    – xLeitix
    Jun 14, 2023 at 14:52

1 Answer 1

7

First of all: it's good that you realize that your past behavior was abusive and wrong and that you stopped. Abusing animals is usually not something people do out of boredom, it's often tied to a mental disorder or experiencing trauma yourself. The fact that you stopped your behavior and refuse to do it again is an accomplishment of yours.

You write:

I read that cats don't forgive

That is wrong. Cats think in simple categories: good and bad.
Eating food is good, being wet is bad, cuddling with you is good, being abused is bad.

Traumatic events can make a strong connection between a person and "bad", so strong that the cat will always avoid the person and it seems like it never "forgives" them. But in fact the cat doesn't understand the concept of forgiveness. It just learned that this person causes pain and it avoids this person to avoid the pain.

So if your cat loves cuddling with you, it means that you are currently in the good category. Of course, if you started abusing your cat again, you might become part of the bad category.

But if your cat likes being with you (which seems obvious by what you write) and you care for him (which is also obvious by what you write) then there's no reason why he shouldn't be with you.

Yes, some of his behaviors are problematic, like the separation anxiety and pica. But that won't go away over night just because he lives somewhere else. If you cannot find him a person that knows how to manage these problems, it might even make your cats quality of life worse.

2
  • Agree. Getting rid of the cat would make the cat feel very bad. He would have lost the only owner he had ever known. He clearly feels safe around his owner, despite past abuse, and to take that away would be awful. The only time I would suggest rehoming the cat is if the OP started abusing it again. Jun 14, 2023 at 14:43
  • Also, this answer is very well written, and correct in all points about cat psychology. Jun 14, 2023 at 14:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.