Can a cat from a Mumbai ground floor home, get used to living in a sixth floor apartment in Bangalore?

Sharing an email from Mr GV.

Having moved with a cat four times (Bombay to Pune to Delhi to Gurgaon), I think the difficulty here is that the cat is an ‘outdoors cat’. 

A cat who has always lived indoors, I know personally, can settle down in newer homes. Can adult ‘outdoors cats’ learn to live indoors? 

What do you think?

IHM,

I would request permission to use your blog to reach out to people who are knowledgeable about the behavior of cats and seek their advice.

I am having an unusual problem which I did not anticipate and would love to hear from your very knowledgeable readers.

Here is the story:

My wife’s elder sister (hereinafter referred to as C) and her husband (retired) are coming over from Mumbai to live in my apartment in Bangalore for about 6 months while my wife and I leave Bangalore to  stay in California with my daughter, son-in -law and grandson at their specific invitation.   My sister in law , C , has a pet cat and she insists she will bring it along from  Mumbai to Bangalore.  We have no issue with her bringing the cat along.

Questions: Will the cat cooperate? Will it accept this new place? Will it run away? How can they transport the cat? I presume they will either come by air or by train. Are cats allowed in trains or in aircraft? Or will they have to travel by road  for the sake of the cat? Will it possibly run away on the way?

At Mumbai they live in a two bedroom apartment on the ground floor. Here they will stay in a three bedroom apartment on the sixth floor in a gated apartment complex of about  200 apartments.

At Mumbai the cat goes out easily and returns on its own for being  fed and sleeps in the drawing room or on the sofa. Will a Mumbai cat agree to be cooped up in the sixth floor of an apartment  here at Bangalore? I have two balconies, one attached to the kitchen, where the maid servant does the dish washing and another balcony attached to the drawing room. Can the cat be comfortable here? The balconies are enclosed  by means of sliding glass panels and protected from the rain and wind.

For the cat, the building and its environs at Mumbai are familiar territory. Here the surroundings will be strange. Other stray cats in the neighbourhood and some dogs in the apartment complex may be hostile towards it.  I heard that cats are loyal to the place  they inhabit, not to the humans who take care of them. They don’t mind a change in masters but they do mind a change in place. Is this true?

I wonder if C is doing the right thing in bringing the cat over. I thought she had the option of asking one of her adult sons who lives with her to feed it.  This adult  son works at Mumbai and lives with them  and will be staying there at night but will be out all day. Maids/watchmen in the building can also be told to take care of the cat (after being offered an incentive).  But she pleads that her son is often away on tour and she does not trust friends/neighbours / servants /watchmen  to take care of her cat  during her absence. I also suspect that the son is not  too receptive to the idea of taking responsibility for his mom’s pet cat and would be more than happy to bundle it off with his parents to Bangalore.

The reason for their coming over to stay here for such an extended period is not relevant here and is a family matter but for those who are curious, let me come out with it .

The reason is taking care of my aged mother-in-law (who is in her eighties) in our absence. Mil  has been living with us for over 30 years and only spending a few days every few years with her other three daughters. (She has four daughters and no son. Fil is no more). My place has been her headquarters all these years.   We can’t take her with us to USA. She  is  most unwilling  to go to Mumbai to stay with C and my wife is also dead set against sending here there for such a long period.  All earlier visits have lasted just a few days or perhaps a couple of weeks. There are other reasons too which prevent this solution and I would not like to discuss them.

Hence C and her husband are coming over (willingly) to be with my mother in law and also take care of our apartment in our absence. My co-brother is a retired gentleman and loves Bangalore and openly welcomes this proposal.  I would not have considered this otherwise. His married elder son (V) and daughter in law (another career woman) also live in another apartment in the same complex in  Bangalore  where we live.

During our three previous visits to USA, there was no problem. We left Mother in law to the care of another sister in law (wife’s younger sister, hereinafter referred to as L) . L is a busy career woman and she too lives in the same apartment complex, on another floor. Mother in law’s health was much better then. She had no problem being alone in the house while living with L and could even be useful to L with minor chores around the house and supervising the maids, answering the door, receiving phone calls, accepting couriered letters/parcels/gas cylinders   and generally taking care of the house while L was away at work. Her grandson (V) and grand daughter in law were also a just a few floors away and she did not miss us at all.

Since then her health has deteriorated sharply, and  a few months ago, she was in an ICU in the Hospital. We thought it was all over  but she scraped through and has recovered some of her former health.  Today her health and physical condition is not alarming but not free from concern either.  She is  not  bed-ridden, and  can move around, but she simply  cannot be left alone any more to manage the house. Neither can she be   left to L’s care except on Weekends when L is at home, unless L gives up her career for her mom’s sake. I am totally against that solution.  It’s just a six month period for which we have to find  another way out.

The senior sis –in-law,  C and her husband  coming over to live in our apartment was unanimously agreed as the best solution and they are also looking forward to escaping the heat and dust of Mumbai for an extended stay in Bangalore with its famed weather. C also welcomes the prospect of spending some time taking care of  her mother and also enjoying the company of junior sis in law L.  and her son (V) and daughter in law  who live a few doors away. Mil will also like having C over. She has lots of family gossip to share with her while my wife and I are away.  C’s presence is needed only for managing the house and giving company to her mother who cannot be left alone. Mil does not need any nursing. She is old, but she does not  qualify for assisted living as yet.

Doctors and hospitals are located just a stone’s throw away in case of need. Plenty of friendly neighbours are also there to help if needed and C’s elder son V is also near at hand.   We also propose to stay in touch over the phone or Skype.

My only worry is this cat, to which C  is totally devoted ! I have hesitated to raise the issue of the cat with C as I don’t want her to feel that I am hinting that the cat is unwelcome and I don’t want her to cancel her plans for the sake of her cat.

Meanwhile Mil’s fourth daughter R is blissfully unaware of the issue and we would hate to bother her. She can do nothing to help. She is a permanent resident and a citizen of USA for the past 35 years. Mil has visited  her twice and suffered due to the freezing temperatures there. Sending her to USA is ruled out. She Skypes regularly with R using my wife’s Ipad.

Any thoughts/ideas/suggestions/opinions/advice from your readers is welcome.

When I last saw what my wife was up to, I noticed she has been googling “Cat Care” on her Ipad! I am sure your readers here can  give me better advice.

Regards

GV

Related Posts:

Travelling with a cat.

29 thoughts on “Can a cat from a Mumbai ground floor home, get used to living in a sixth floor apartment in Bangalore?

  1. Thanks IHM for sharing this email on your blog.
    I also read your old related post “Travelling with a cat” published in 2010 with great interest.
    I will also wait for opinions from your readers.
    Regards
    GV

    Like

    • 1. One big concern would be if the cat is used to a litter box. [We use saw dust (available in the market, also used for polishing floors) – instead of using conventional clumping litters.] If not then the cat needs to be trained to use a litter box (at the very least) and this may be done gradually before they move into an apartment.

      2. But I would worry about the cat attempting to go back to their house in Mumbai – I know of a cat who tried this (though in the same city) and was found after many months, outside the house they had shifted from.

      Like

  2. I am an owner of 3 indoor/outdoor ‘jet setting’ cats that commute with us from Kathmandu to Delhi twice a year.
    Question-
    Is the cat ‘litter box’ trained? This is REALLY important!
    Does that cat sleep indoors at night? Does it come in the house at all?
    Has the cat experienced & will tolerate being transported in a ‘carrier’?

    Like

  3. You are just over thinking.

    That cat is their family, their baby.

    The cat will be fine, just bring her some scratching post and few squeaky toys, if her humans (her mommy daddy) are with her she’ll be fine. If she is outdoors cat her claws are intact she’ll be able to protect her self.

    You just worry about your furniture and the cat dander that you’ll have to deal with on your return.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2653853/Cat-owners-joy-beloved-pet-returns-home-13-YEARS.html

    DG

    Like

  4. I know nothing about cats but I have to say, GVji you have the wonderful way of writing that gentlemen of your generation do. We barely put hellos and how are yous in our mails and you patiently explain all about the A to Z of your extended family!

    I can so clearly picture your life and home from this description. I can even imagine the old lady signing for gas cylinders🙂

    Have a safe trip and we wish your MIL the best of health. After tour grandchild, we’re now also interested in your SIL’s cat!

    Please do start a blog…

    Like

  5. I think it depends entirely on the nature of the cat. Unfortunately you can’t really test that out. Some ideas:
    – Get a cat carrier and get the cat used to it well in advance of the move.
    – Start confining the cat indoors in Bombay for whatever time is left
    – Friends with pets have driven places with them in India, no idea about flight possibilities.
    – For a month or two in Blr, the owners will need to be extra vigilant about the cat w.r.t. open doors and windows.
    – Is the cat amenable to toys and special food? Maybe that would be be inducement enough to stay indoors.
    – use catnip as an inducement – place bits of it inside the blr house to tempt the cat enough to stay indoors.

    Hope some of this helps!

    Like

  6. GVJi, your mail was very interesting. I admire your concern for the cat as well as your Ma in law, besides the fun you have with your grandson, and the bond you share with everyone in your family as well as extended family.
    My daughter also stays in Bangalore and has a dog (adopted by her) as well as a cat who adopted her. Initially she was looking for a home for the cat with the impression that cats and dogs don’t get along. But when she saw the two pets bonding like mother and son, she decided to keep the cat as well. My daughter also stays in a gated community (on the thirteenth floor) but she has never had the need of shifting the pets anywhere. When she and her hubby are away, they have friends who stay over and look after the pets.
    I second Simply Bored. Please do start a blog. It will be a big hit.
    Hope you get all the answers for all your concerns. All the best!

    Like

    • Thanks to Simply Bored and Bhagi for their kind words.
      I did blog in the past .
      There were hardly any readers!
      It was just a voice in the wilderness and I gave up after a few posts before trying again after a year.
      This time I tried every trick that I knew to get some one to read them.
      I did the usual viz sending links to the blog post to a circle of friends.
      What I did not write openly and was of course implied was “Please, Please Pleeeze read”
      A few kind souls did oblige. They even left evidence of having read it with an encouraging comment.
      Egged on, I posted some more. This time I got the hint that I was becoming a nuisance!
      Their encouraging comments shrunk in number and size and finally ended up with single or double word comments like “Nice!”, “Good show!”, “Keep it up”! I even wondered if they had read my blog at all! Finally even these comments dried up.

      The immediate family was much more brutally frank.
      They warned me not to spam them by sending them links to my blog posts and to keep my on line life to myself. They wanted no part of it.
      My wife is rather amused at my spending so much time “reading diaries of strange women”. She is least interested in blogs.

      So that was that.
      I gave up.
      Commenting on other’s blogs is so much easier. There is no committment.
      You just plunge headlong into writing what is in your mind.
      You need not search for a subject. It’s already selected for you by the blogger.
      Besides at blogs like IHM’s, a single comment gets more eye balls from readers all over the world than anything original that I write.
      So, let me stick to commenting.
      Yes, I do occasionally submit guest posts to friendly bloggers who graciously accept them and IHM is one of them. I remember being pleasantly surprised by the warm reception that my first guest post at IHM’s blog received some years ago. It dealt with how a monkey had arranged my marriage.
      Since then she has hosted me about half a dozen times.
      I am satisfied and want no more.
      Thanks once again for your kind words.
      Regards
      GV

      Like

    • I too hope so!
      I am CATaloguing all the tips from the responses received.
      There is still three months time.
      We are leaving only in March next year.
      By then I hope, between my Mil, C, L and my wife J, we can reach a concensus on this issue.

      Mil is not too happy about having to share a spacious flat with a cat which she fears will climb on to her bed and she has been cribbing about it. She has a horror of cat hair and dander spreading all over the house. Cat poop is another thought that repels here. She belongs to the generation that believed that toilets should be built outside the house, as in the village house she grew up in. Attached toiletsin modern apartments repelled her intitially but she has been forced to reconcile. Now she fears she will have cat poop all over the house and not just in the toilets!

      Neither is she pleased about competing wtih a cat for attention and affection from her eldest daughter when she comes over.

      One major reason she didn’t want to go to Mumbai was the cat’s presence and the fact that she will lose privacy and space when she shares a two bedroom apartment with her daughter, son in law, grandson, and a cat. Unlike her daughter, she does not fancy pets. Living on the ground floor of a building in Mumbai during the monsoon is also putting her off.

      Here at my place in Bangalore she has a spacious, well-lit and well-ventilated bedroom all to herself on the sixth floor and has her own bathroom attached.
      She also has her friends circle of ladies of her age group. In the evenings they gather in the Gazebo to gossip about their respective daugthers and daughters in law. She will miss all that in Mumbai. Besides she is accustomed to living in Bangalore for over 30 years now and hates a change of place.

      I have alerted C’s son in Mumbai to my misgivings about the cat and he too is doing his homework and asking around on how best to solve this problem.
      They are coming by train (first calls AC, for the sake of the cat).

      Regards
      GV

      Like

  7. I think the cat would learn to adjust. My only concern would be that the cat might jump off the window or the balcony unless it is completely secured or unless you can pay 24×7 attention to it… it has happened with a few cats and dogs, that they were chasing a stray bird or insect that got into the house, and when it flew out, the cat/dog did not realize that they could follow it beyond a point. Dogs usually suffer fractures (or more) when they fall like that. Although, from what I’ve heard about cats, their chances of injury are higher when they fall from the 2nd-3rd-4th floor. Any higher than that, and they get time to align themselves to the ground, and can land on all fours, minimizing the damage. However, that may be possible only upto a certain height–I don’t know how much! I’m sharing what I heard from the cat/dog owners that I personally know. Hope this helps. And hope the kitty has a good time enjoying the view from the 6th floor… they love to be high up, feeling powerful, and observe us mere mortals from up there!😀

    Like

  8. I did not read who the post was from. While reading I noticed a familiarity with the writing style, and then I noted it is GVji who has written the mail..:) no clue about cats and their behaviour…but the issue is interesting…

    Like

  9. Hi Mr GV,
    Please confirm if your MIL is not allergic to cats. This is the only situation where I see that bringing the cat will not be feasible. If not, two aspects here: 1) emotional, and 2) logistical

    Emotionally, think of the cat as a family member. As DG says, C and her husband are parents to this pet. I have cat-sat couple of times -once in the owners’ home, coming to her house to sleep at night and the other time, by asking the cat to be placed in my house, where there was no way for her to wander outside. In both instances, the cat clearly missed my friend. Even though at her home she had access to her routine, she was miserable. No amount of playtime or cooing could ever replace my friend. This was for 4 – 8 days. So, for six months, I think the cat and C would be emotionally better off with each other.

    Logistically: You can bring pets on flight. They will have to be cooped up in a box though. Best to speak to a vet before hand and carry the appropriate medicines for vomiting, motion sickness etc. Regardless of size, air travel requires pets to travel in cargo – C needs to be prepared for it. I think flight is the best option for all. Just a few hours of travel as opposed to car or train.
    Your wife and you will have to accept certain things like your house smelling funny, meat (?) and the litter box, if she would use one. Some furniture will have scratches. Hair will be everywhere!
    It should be up to C to figure out how to manage the outdoor situation. Your responsibility ends with giving her the freedom to live with her pet in your home, as she would like!

    Like

  10. I think a few things to think about:
    – Is this a male or female cat? And if male has he been “fixed”? Young male cats are very territorial so if the cat moves to a new environment he will have to contend with the neighborhood male cats and it can get ugly as they try to establish supremacy, they literally fight.
    – If it’s an older cat female or male (fixed) and if he is home bound to some degree (stays in the house at least a good percentage of time) it might be ok to bring along as long as litter box and other logistics are figured out.
    – Leaving the cat in Mumbai should not be a problem as long as there is someone to take some basic care of it. Cats like their own home environment and need only a little bit of socializing. Again this will depend on this particular cat and if it’s used to a lot of socialization vs is more in and out and just needs food etc. If it’s somewhat attached to it’s owner (can cats really be owned?) it may miss her so may be better off in Bangalore.
    – Cats usually don’t poop/pee outside of a litter box or some dirt unless they are stressed out. The relocation could do that to this cat but if handled correctly might not.

    Like

  11. Hello,

    I felt I had to put forth my comments here. The cat, if is being fed every day by C, then will be totally dependent on her for daily food. If her son is not going to take care, then the cat is going to be left to fend for itself(with no hunting skills), and it is going to starve and die Which is a very bad thing to happen and I am sure you would not want that either.

    Although it is an outdoor cat, the cat can be kept as an indoor cat in your bangalore apartment. You can teach the cat to start using litter box, fill it with mud for a while as it represents a real natural environment where it does its business.

    The cat would not even be interested in anyone else except C whom she trusts and thinks of as a care taker. Since C is coming all the way here to take care of this lady, I think you should do everything possible help her take care of her even.

    As for the cat’s happiness, yes it will be happy here inside.

    Like

  12. Balcony can be secured this way to prevent them from trying to jump down the balcony. Yeah you will be spending a little money, but you will feel good that you did not discriminate the cat who has no role in your life and all are happy🙂

    Like

  13. Even while I was reading the post – I knew who’s written it – not because of the details but because of the style of writing – I have always followed your responses closely🙂

    Have a nice trip!! Sorry I have no advice to offer.

    Like

  14. The cat will be fine if she moves with you- here is an excellent source to help. http://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/moving-new-home-cat
    Get the cat used to a litter box. Try to make her an inside only cat- it is not very safe outside for cats. Is one of the balconies screened? If so the cat can her have own little atrium- put in a few cat friendly plants and high window seats- she will adapt in no time.

    Like

  15. Thanks to all readers for their helpful suggestions and useful links.
    I have been discussing this with C and her son too over the past two days.
    My wife too has been busy checking up on info on cats.
    C and family have assured me that they are also doing their homework.
    Here is an update.
    “Ganesh” , the cat, is an overfed, chubby lazy fellow.
    I wish I knew how to post a picture of him here, like Animal Lover has done.

    He was brought home 6 years agoa, by A, (C’s adult son) as a kitten that was found abandoned. He brought it home only for a cup of milk and had hoped it would go away. He needs to learn a thing or two about cats. Now he is wiser. The kitten stayed, and wormed its way into their heart.
    They named him “Ganesh” and it has been a permanent fixture at their apartment for the past 6 years.
    Lazy, quiet, and perfectly content, he is mostly an indoor cat and enjoys C’s pampering.
    He doesn’t move much and is more than content to sit quietly all day in one corner.
    They got him neutered by the local vet.
    He goes out just once a day and does not wander much but heads to the feet of the watchman of the building, rubs his body against his legs and curls up beside his stool and then, naps for some time and then heads back home.
    He has no friends and no enemies. He loves “dosas” which C serves with pleasure.

    We have worked out arrangements for him here. The balcony is 6′ wide and 12 feet long.
    It is covered with double sliding panels, one with glass and and anther parallel panel with a mesh.
    Ganesh won’t be able to jump out unless someone carelessly leaves both panels open.
    We plan to make this his Bangalore HQ.
    We are also preparing a niche for him in one corner of the hall by re-arranging the furniture.

    C and family have no concerns. They are sure Ganesh won’t run away. He is too lazy to even walk far, they say. And, to my mil’s relief, they have never encouraged him to climb on the bed or the sofa.
    I am now at peace.
    Anyway, as Desi Girl rightly says, I worry too much. It is C and family who should be worrying. It’s their problem. I am sure they will find a way out.
    Thanks once again to all of you.
    Regards
    GV

    Like

    • GVj, for what it is worth, we drove Kikoi-Goofy our cat, 1100 miles from Teas while relocating to Michigan- him meowing loudly and very annoyed with us- (though he liked the hotel room we stayed in- since he had a room and me all to himself!). And he adjusted, through another house move- only got bolder as time went on and now bullies the dog!
      Good luck to C.

      Like

    • Glad, the situation is working itself out.
      As someone who would not consider moving to another country without my cats, I’m fairly certain this in the best interest of ‘C’ hence MIl and therefore for you too. Heres wishing Ganesh a safe and event-less visit!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s