Dear Bitter Butch,
I deeply love and am committed to my partner. I love her, love being with her, and love our relationship. I want to be a great partner in a healthy, loving way. We’ve been through a few tough situations- a kid in the hospital, work stuff, etc and she and I usually work through it really well.
This is a tough one. Her cat is sick and has been sick for so long that it doesn’t go in the litter box. It also bites – her mom, her sister, our kiddo.
I was all about patiently addressing this issue, but unfortunately months later, medicine and changing litter was just not the answer.
I’m a sensitive woman and I love cats. But the biting… I’m not okay with that. So, after it bit our kid we had several talks. The options suck. We put the cat down, or the unlikely scenario that we find an adopter. Or the kids and I move out and we maintain separate households until the cat dies. I’m willing to do those first two things, but I’m not willing to go on with the biting, pooping and not doing anything to address it.
My partner is not ready to let go, in her heart. Mentally she gets it, but this is so hard for her “because if we weren’t here she wouldn’t have to make this choice” – that is a hard thing for me to swallow.
I feel like a total asshole in this situation and then I’m like no you’re not an asshole. Am I an asshole? What is the etiquette on this? She takes a long time to make decisions. I think we need a faster time frame, or am I being a pushy bitch? It’s been 2 weeks since the bite. This could go on for months.
Trying Not To Get Bit
Dear Trying Not To Get Bit,
Before I offer my opinion, I will give you some background on me so you know where I’m coming from: I LOVE cats. Love love love love them. I drop everything to coo at them at friend’s houses; I lost my own to advanced old age four years ago and I still cry over them sometimes. Before they died, they had such massive catbox issues that I bleached the basement floor nearly daily for close to a year. I picked up poo all over the place and sprayed Atmosklear in every corner. My partner and I gave them IV fluids, which is a pretty Crazy Cat Lady. I bought them ridiculously expensive prescription cat food. I am nuts for cats. I love their furry weird standoffish pushy hilarious mysterious slightly-mean-at-times little faces. I FUCKING LOVE CATS.
So, that cat cred established: You are not the asshole. SHE is the asshole. She is being a giant, horrible, selfish, and passive-aggressive, manipulative ASSHOLE.
If this were a dog, even a small one, it would have been euthanized. Animal bites — especially cat bites — can be horribly septic. I do not understand why people don’t take cat bites seriously when a septic bite could actually kill a person. This is dangerous to your children.
(And to you, and to her, and to her sister and to her mom, I might add.)
What I want to tell you is: move out and don’t go back! Because every time something like this comes up, she’s going to say horribly cruel and shitty things like: “If you all weren’t here I wouldn’t have to make this choice.” Wow. That is a truly truly horribly shitty assholeish bad BAD partner thing to say. You know what else she wouldn’t have if you all weren’t there? Your companionship. Your love. Your help with the rent, I’m guessing. All of the joyful things that you bring to her life, she wouldn’t have, either. But gosh she’d not have to think about whether she is willing to face what’s going on with her cat!
I find it very telling that you are both ignoring the simplest solution — one that many people with aging, ill, or dangerous pets do – keeping the cat in an enclosed area with food, litter, and periodic access to your partner’s snuggles. A place like a laundry room or basement you can hose off the floor and keep the door closed so that the children can stay away. Even a large-ish closet would do the trick.
If you do not live in a very small apartment in which something like this would be impossible, and this idea hasn’t come up at all, what she’s REALLY doing is valuing her cat’s complete and total freedom of movement over your children’s safety.
Which is why I’m suggesting the moving out option instead of the shutting the cat in the basement option. Because WHAT THE FUCK, LADY? Seriously. Let her see how delightful it is to be free from your oppressive presence that forces her to be a responsible adult in dealing with her pet.
It’s hard to lose pets. I get it. It’s hard to see them becoming terribly ill. This does not give her license to treat the people around her like they are disposable.
BITTER BUTCH aka Haddayr Copley-Woods is a queer, a cripple, a nerd, a mom to two kids with neurological differences, and has a truckload of opinions on everything including sex and relationships, parenting, disability issues, family relationships, work dynamics, gender/sexuality issues, and etiquette. You can reach her with all your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
[Photo via Shutterstock]