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Question
Posted by: Hestia | 2012/03/07

Cat

Hi My boyfriend and I moved in together beginning February. He has a 6 Year old boy that stays with his ex wive.We have him every second weekend. His aunt bought him a cat (the ex and the child stays with her sister). They have two big dogs and Tuesday the cat got out and the dogs bit him.
The problem is that the boy now wants the cat to come to our house. We also have dogs and they are not used to cats AT ALL. I do not like cats and even before we moved in together we decided we will not get cats as pets as we both do not like them. Now everyday the boy either phones his dad crying or the ex notifies my boyfriend that he must phone the child to try and calm him down. Yesterday the ex said that the child even stopped eating (he does not eat well anyway) . I can''t help but think that she is trying to manipulate him to take the cat. Now I feel guilty because I do not want us to take the cat and I am not willing to get rid of my dogs. It places him in a difficult situasion because he does not like it when the child is sad and crying

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

It sounds all round as though the aunt was foolish to get the boy a cat, when both envirnments in which he lives are hostile for a cat. Of course the poor child is upset, very understandably. Concentrate on the child's feelings and needs, and don't see everything in terms of warfare between the ex's.
Is there no way that your dogs might learn to tolerate cats ? Maybe a vet could advise ?
Meg makes a lot of sense. As she says, at least TRY and stop making absolute assumptions. Who said your dogs would have to be disposed of ? And if that would upset you, how much more would the boy be upset if you has his loved cat disposed of ? Someone to love, who returns UNCONDITIONAL love, as a pet does, is important to any child, especially one caught between warring adults through no fault of his own.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Wow | 2012/03/07

You guys are really CLEVER - I am so impressed with your answers (most of them at least). Well said Megs.

Reply to Wow
Posted by: Megs | 2012/03/07

The poor boy is also in a difficult position- he is torn between two families of which neither want to help him keep his pet. Pets are very important to kids, especially kids from broken homes (my pets were my everything when my parents split up).

So, you can either sit down with the mother and discuss this like adults and think of the poor child. The dog bit the cat- why? It may only be a once off occurrence, it may happen again. Was the cat badly hurt? Was the dog trying to play with the cat (my dog bites my cat all the time but she is just playing)? If it wasn’ t too serious, then there is no reason why the cat can’ t stay with her, so long as the dog is disciplined not to do it again (a smack with newspaper, a squirt of water…  the dog will learn quickly). If it was serious, the cat needed to go to the vet for stitches, then you may need to consider letting the cat live with you. No one is saying re-home your dogs. Introduce the dogs to the cat- you never know (if you don’ t have cats, how do you know your dogs don’ t like them)? My father had two dogs that didn’ t like my step moms cat but the solution was simple- keep them separated. Keep the cat in the front and the dogs at the back or something.

Cats are really nice pets to have, and anyway you shouldn’ t be thinking too much about yourself (you should be thinking about how devastated the child will be if you don’ t even TRY).

Give it a bash. He’ ll be grateful if you do (even if it doesn’ t work out) and he’ ll just be angry at all of you if none of you even bother.

Now I''m not saying that this should be a habit- that the kid cries and then he gets what he wants, but we are talking about a pet that he already has, not a bike that he just wants or something.

Reply to Megs
Posted by: cybershrink | 2012/03/07

It sounds all round as though the aunt was foolish to get the boy a cat, when both envirnments in which he lives are hostile for a cat. Of course the poor child is upset, very understandably. Concentrate on the child's feelings and needs, and don't see everything in terms of warfare between the ex's.
Is there no way that your dogs might learn to tolerate cats ? Maybe a vet could advise ?
Meg makes a lot of sense. As she says, at least TRY and stop making absolute assumptions. Who said your dogs would have to be disposed of ? And if that would upset you, how much more would the boy be upset if you has his loved cat disposed of ? Someone to love, who returns UNCONDITIONAL love, as a pet does, is important to any child, especially one caught between warring adults through no fault of his own.

Reply to cybershrink

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