Friday, April 11, 2014

When Pet-Parents Break Up, Fido And Fluffy Want Visitation

Dear Tazi:

I broke up with my boyfriend the week between Christmas and New Year's. I know what you must be thinking (that I am a horrible person!) but the break-up was mutual, and a long time coming. The passion was gone, and "Jim" and I had drifted apart over the years. My problem has to do with my cat, "Pudgie".

Pudgie was very attached to Jim, and would greet him at the door every day when he returned home from work, just like a dog! (Sorry if that comparison offends your cat-like sensibilities, Tazi). Pudgie insisted on napping on top of Jim and would sleep by our bedroom door at night, to keep guard. If I paid too much attention to Jim, Pudgie would get territorial and shove me away while showering Jim with attention. Like I said, Pudgie was very attached to Jim.

Since I am the homeowner in the relationship, Jim moved out when we broke up; since Pudgie was my cat to begin with, there was no question of who he belonged to and who he would live with as Jim and I parted ways - or so I thought. Pudgie, it appears, has other ideas on his agenda. It appears that he misses Jim. Pudgie still sits and stares at the door every evening, around the time Jim would come home every night, and when Jim does not appear Pudgie meows like a crying child. I try to soothe him, but he won't have it. When I go to bed at night, Pudgie roams the house and cries (I tried locking him in another room, but he scratched to door something awful!). When I get up in the morning, Pudgie looks at me like his heart is broken, and meows for Jim. I can't go on like this! Seeing Pudgie so sad breaks my heart! He's not eating, and is even losing the pudginess that gave him his name (which I suppose is a good thing, but not really at the same time).

I truly have no desire to get back with Jim, so I am hesitant to call him and invite him over to visit with the cat; in fact, I am hesitant to tell him that the cat misses him because it sounds like a ridiculous attempt to get back with him! On the other hand, I can't leave Pudgie to suffer like this...what do you think would be the best approach to reuniting Pudgie and Jim, without making it sound like I am desperate to get back with him?

Concerned Cat Owner

Dear Concerned Cat Owner:

Science has recently discovered something that people have known for a long time: animals can feel emotions and have emotional attachments. Creatures from elephants to orangutans have been seen expressing sorrow and grief over the loss of a tribe member, even when there has been no loss of protection or provisions due to the loss. This shows that the grief is not a matter of altruism, but of actual heartfelt sorrow. Pudgie is indeed mourning the loss of his preferred human companion (no offense to your human sensibilities!).

If you are sincere about not wanting to reunite with Jim, I suggest that you email him a copy of your letter to let him know just how much Pudgie misses him, and suggest some sort of visitation schedule (since I am certain that Jim misses Pudgie, too!). If Pudgie is an outdoor cat, would he take to a harness so Jim could have a play-date in the park with him? If Pudgie is an indoor cat, do you trust Jim to be alone with him in the house to cat-sit Pudgie while you run errands? If not, is Jim allowed to have a pet visit where he is currently living? Do you have a mutual friend who would not mind hosting Jim and Pudgie for an afternoon once or twice a week? Visitation with Jim could greatly improve Pudgie's emotional state and attitude.

When couples split, all the animals involved know is that someone they loved is no longer around; they do not understand what has happened, and can experience a sense of abandonment. For Pudgie's sake, I hope that Jim understands this and is willing to make time for visitation with Pudgie. Whether either of you want to accept it or not, Pudgie is his cat, too - at least in Pudgie's eyes he is! Jim, your cat needs you! Please make some time for him.

Snuggles to all,

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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