Sage Advice: Cat Ownership Causes Couple's Concerns

By Amy Dickinson | February 21st, 2018

Woman's fiancé is not a cat person, and she wonders if she needs to find it a new home

Dear Amy: I’ve started to realize that I should probably rehome my cat. I adopted her four years ago when she was a kitten and she helped me to adjust to living on my own in a new city.

My fiance is allergic and “not a cat person.” My cat is very rambunctious, gets into everything and likes to test authority. Having my fiance in the household for the past year has seemed to increase my cat’s anxiety and the tension has been the source of almost every fight.

On top of that, my cat had a bumpy recovery after surgery and her anxiety since has been really difficult for me to manage. She gets upset if I even leave a room she is in. I am gone 12 hours a day. I totally fail to give her the attention and care that she needs.

Several months ago my fiance told me that ultimately I would have to find a new home for her because it clearly wasn’t working for everyone. I didn’t want to admit to him that I had already seriously considered rehoming her.

I know it’s petty, but I want to give conditions before I agree. My conditions are that he has to get rid of his saltwater fish. If we ever consider getting pets, I want the final say.

The guilt of giving up this cat is crushing me.

Even if I find a better home for her, saying goodbye to my cat will rip me into pieces. How do I navigate this?

– Always a Cat Lady

Dear Cat Lady: According to you, you have not provided this cat with the home she deserves to have. You are gone for 12 hours a day, and have not successfully dealt with the cat’s extreme anxiety. These unfortunate conditions are reason enough to find a different home for this cat.

If your fiance is allergic, I don’t see how you could place the blame so squarely on him for not wanting to live with a very high-maintenance, unhappy, dander-producing animal. His allergy is not his fault.

Do your fiance’s fish give you hives, get into everything or yowl whenever they are alone? If so, then the cat and the fish are somewhat equivalent. Otherwise, not so much. Your fiance should be patient, understanding and kind toward you, and should help you to find a better home for your cat.

If your motivation to get rid of these fish is to force your fiance to give up his pets because you are giving up yours, then you might not be ready for marriage. Marriage is about respectful compromise. Compromise doesn’t mean demanding that your partner must lose if you are losing.

You should not have the last (or only) say when choosing your next pet with your partner. You two should decide together, and should share the responsibility of animal stewardship as evenly as you can.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

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