Dear Richard Madeley: ‘Our beloved cat just died young – is it disloyal to get a new one?’

'Recently, our much-loved cat died suddenly at a young age and we were – and still are – heartbroken'
'Recently, our much-loved cat died suddenly at a young age and we were – and still are – heartbroken' - Ron Number

Dear Richard,

Recently, our much-loved cat died suddenly at a young age and we were – and still are – heartbroken. He had a larger-than-life personality, accepted strokes serenely and strolled around knocking small household items over as if he owned the place. The house seems chilly and empty without him. It’s somehow a more dramatic change than the children nominally leaving home, partly because they are still coming and going – but chiefly because they’re not dead, of course.

We had begun to think about the silver linings to this, chiefly the fact that it is now easier for us to go away, when a neighbour and fellow cat lover called. She’d come home last week to find her rescue cat nursing six kittens under the spare bed. Our eyes lit up.

We rejected our initial irrational thought that it would be disloyal to take on one (or perhaps two) of these adorable kittens. But now we’re caught between the practical view that it’s time we put our pet-owning days behind us and the romantic notion that we still have more love to give and receive (and the memory of the sheer pleasure we both got from having a cat around the place).

We know the practical view should prevail; we just wondered whether you might have some compelling advice to help us to reach it – or some tips that might help make the ‘wrong’ choice easier to live with.

— A&D, Bucks

Dear A&D,

I had a cat many years ago (christened TC, for obvious reasons). He, too, was brimming with character and fun; he, too, died young, from leukaemia. I mourned him for a length of time that surprised me. But I am in absolutely no doubt about this. You should get another cat. Perhaps two. Why should you deny yourself this simple but profound pleasure? After all, you’re not in your dotage and you know exactly what cat ownership involves. If you want to travel more, you know what that entails in terms of deputising neighbours (or your children, if they’re around and can be relied on) for pet care duties.

As for showing ‘disloyalty’ to your dear departed pussycat – yes, that’s a classic anthropomorphic response, but one that rather does you credit. It shows how much you invested in your relationship with him and the extent to which you appreciated his personality.

Call your friend. Ask her for one (or two) of those kittens. I guarantee you won’t regret it – not even for a second.

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