Alcoholism And Cat Ownership

Alcoholism And Cat Ownership

I want to briefly discuss whether an alcoholic can look after a cat properly.  This is a cross post from the main website. I do this to boost one of the pages so that Google search finds the article more easily.

I happen to know an alcoholic who is recovering.  I happen to know a lot about alcoholism and the underlying causes and how difficult it is to manage.  Indeed, alcoholism pretty much ruins a person's life because it controls the person unless they have managed to control it on a day-to-day basis.  These people are called recovering  alcoholics.

There are two main problems with alcoholics looking after a cat.  Firstly, the alcoholic has lost control of drinking therefore he will drink when the urge takes hold.  It becomes the first priority and nothing will stop it.  The alcoholic, at that moment, has a complete disregard for other things.  All responsibilities are thrown out of the window and the alcoholic's mind is focused on getting that drink.  This state of mind blocks out caring for a cat, obviously.  At that moment in time caring for a cat is a long way down the list of things to do.

Secondly, an alcoholic cannot control the drinking once started.  This does, however, depend upon the sort of alcoholic the person is.  Some alcoholics manage to live with it and function fairly well ("functioning alcoholic").  They drink every day and even work under the influence of drink to a reasonable level.  They probably could look after a cat to a satisfactory standard.  However, binge alcoholics, in contrast, have great difficulty doing anything during a binge other than drinking.

Often a binge alcoholic will drink 1 to 2 bottles of vodka per day and perhaps a lot more which totally incapacitates the person (the equivalent of 6 bottles of wine).  All they can do is sleep, wake up and drink some more.  Their home becomes a complete mess and everything is neglected.  The binge might go on for about 3 to 10 days and often ends in hospitalisation due to the severity of the poisoning of the body.  In addition, the alcoholic may injure themselves slightly or seriously during this time if they try to walk or for example go outside to get more alcohol.

Under these dire circumstances a domestic cat is, as mentioned, totally neglected.  If a subsequent hospital stay lasts for about a week, which it might, then once again the cat is neglected and nobody would be informed to help out because when the ambulance comes around to take the alcoholic to hospital he or she is totally out of it.

I'm not saying that, absolutely, a binge alcoholic cannot look after a cat but you can judge by the above brief description that it is unlikely to be possible and that at the least it would be unfair on the cat if a binge alcoholic decided to adopt a cat.

My conclusion is that all alcoholics should not care for a domestic cat.  Those are harsh words, I admit, but written in the interests of domestic cats.  That said, a genuine recovering alcoholic would possibly greatly benefit from the responsibilities of looking after a domestic cat.  The story of James Bowen and his cat Bob and in addition the more recent story of John Dolan and his dog George spring to mind.

Both of these people had drug problems and both of them say that their companion animal made a substantial contribution to their recovery and success in life after a dark period in their lives.

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