General Etiquette > Life...in general

Statements about my cat - rude?

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NutellaNut:
BG 1: I am a Crazy Cat Lady in training.  We only have three cats, but I am very attached to them.  This is very obvious to all of my friends.  Our cats are part of our family.  Even my DH mourns tremendously when we lose one of our loved pets.

BG 2: One of our cats, Tristy, was thrown out of her house by neighbors and left to fend for herself for months, despite being declawed.  As she got skinnier and skinnier we began feeding her and adopted her.  We've had her for 3 years now; she is a snuggle-bunny and very attached to me in particular. 

Unfortunately, she also gets stressed when we go away for several days, which we do a couple times a year.  She took to peeing on the bed when we were away.  I coped by making a waterproof cover for the bed for when we were away (didn't want to shut her out of her territory and have her end up peeing somewhere else anyway).  She always stopped the peeing inappropriately within a couple days of our return.  But this last time, after August, she didn't stop.  She also started peeing on our living room couch.  My DH was extremely unhappy about her peeing on the bed, and I certainly didn't like having to wash all of the blankets, sheets, mattress pad, every couple of days.  The couch is not quite so bad because I got some waterproof pads and put them under an upholstery throw in the spot where she goes, which makes cleanup easier. 

Over the past few months, we've done some behaviour modification (ours and hers) - having active play time every day, changing the litter box configuration and cleaning them thoroughly more frequently (my DH's job, actually), and I'm relieved to say that things have improved a lot.  She's stopped peeing on the bed altogether, and tapered off eliminating on the sofa.  In fact <whispers> it's been almost two weeks since the last time.  Hopefully the situation will continue to improve.  I'm committed to helping her overcome this problem, and though my DH had some bad moments when she was still eliminating on the bed, now that he's seen improvement he also is happy that we're working on it.

My question is this:  several times now, when talking about the situation with friends or relatives, people have said things like, "If that was my cat, she'd be out on her butt in a heartbeat!" or "I'd kick her <ruder word for butt> across the room and she'd never do it again!" or even, "Time to put that cat to sleep!"  These statements really bother me.  I'm not diminishing how annoying this behavior is, and I do know that sometimes, drastic measures have to be taken.  I'm definitely OK with people making serious suggestions about how to handle this difficult situation.  But people were saying this flippantly and callously when I was talking about the research I was doing or the animal behaviorist I was trying to contact, to improve the situation, and making it clear that we were trying less awful options first.  And they certainly know how I feel about my pets.

So far, I've managed to mildly reply, "I guess that's easy to say when it isn't a beloved member of your family," and leave it at that.  I'm hoping things are so much improved that this won't be a matter of conversation any more, but if someone says something similar again, is there anything better I can say or do to make it clear I don't find such talk helpful or kind?

TootsNYC:
I think part of what those people are saying is that they don't really want to hear that much about it.

So the best solution is to not go into such detail about your cats' lives.

Think about this: If they WERE your actual children, would you talk in such detail about the fact that they wet the bed? I wouldn't; I'd respect their privacy more.

So if your cats are your kids, maybe you shouldn't reveal quite so much about this.


(and you *have* had her checked out by the vet, yes?)

CL32:
Hi,

First, congratulations on the results of the behavior modification. I know that it takes a lot of patience and hard work. :)

I'm also a cat lady, and I love my cats as members of the family. I would rather sacrifice my carpet and furniture than get rid of a cat.

Anyway....I'd say that it's just not worth trying to reason with these people. What they say is rude and hurtful, but they just don't get it. Some people don't feel compassion for animals the way we do, and will never understand people who do. I think the best approach is to repeat, beandip, repeat, etc. Come up with a stock phrase, like "This is how we've chosen to handle it" or "Well, we feel differently", then change the subject. It's probably a waste of energy to keep explaining yourself over and over.

Good luck. : :D

magicdomino:
My sympathies, NutellaNut.  I also have a cat with Issues. 

Fortunately, there are enough pet lovers among my acquaintances that they don't say anything really obnoxious -- that and I don't talk about Domino's problems to people who wouldn't understand.  If someone does say something, my first answer will be flippant:  "Eh, I keep him for his good looks."  "I enjoy the challenge."

More hostile comments get a cold stare and a dry, "Good thing he isn't yours, isn't it?"  Then I walk away.  I don't like that kind of people.

NyaChan:
I agree with Toots - it is very possible that you are over-sharing on this subject.  I really like that analogy too.   

We had a similar problem with my cat - we did not talk about it with others because we figured that it would hold no interest for them and quite possibly would gross them out.  Cleanliness in the house is a HUGE deal to us for religious reasons as well as my parents' way of living, so eventually they did give my cat away.  Didn't mean we didn't love the cat, it just meant we couldn't give her a good home anymore as we couldn't risk having her in certain key areas of the house. 

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