Every week, Dear Prudence answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members. R. Eric Thomas is filling in as Prudie for Jenée Desmond-Harris while she’s on parental leave. Submit questions here. (It’s anonymous!)
Q. Sick of the Cat: My partner and I own a small house and have two cats. Our older cat is 20 years old and has developed a serious issue. Something desperately needs to change.
She has fully stopped using her litter box. She defecates and pees many times a day all throughout our living room, kitchen, and bedroom. It’s gross. But it just doesn’t bother my partner as much as it bothers me.
He’s less sensitive to smell than I am, so he’ll still hang out in our living room even though it smells constantly of cat urine. He does his part to clean up (both of us pick up feces off the floor equally), yet I am still doing far more cleaning than I want to be. I just finished mopping the floor, and then the cat immediately peed on it. I’m writing this message as I stare at her fresh puddle because I just don’t have it in me to get up and mop—again.
I think it’s time to put our cat down. She’s led a good and long life. She’s not going to get any better. This is not a phase she’s going to outgrow. And it’s made my home into a place where I don’t want to be.
My partner disagrees. Our cat is not suffering (even though we are). She’s not in pain. She still has a zest for life: She loves eating and being pet as much as ever. He thinks it’s selfish and immoral to commit to care for a living being and then just get rid of it when it’s not convenient for you anymore. I certainly see his point. It probably IS selfish and immoral. But my once-lovely home is now a literal shitshow. It’s loathsome.
I don’t want to put the cat down without my partner’s full willing consent. He would resent me for pressuring him into saying goodbye to her too early. But I also don’t want to live like this anymore. Other than just helplessly waiting for our pet to pass on (which I’ve been doing for months now), what can I do?
A: Two words: cat diaper. I implore you not to put your cat down, especially not without your partner’s consent. Incontinence is not a terminal condition in this case—although, if you haven’t already, you should have your cat checked out by a vet to make sure that it’s not indicative of a greater problem. But presuming you’re being a responsible cat owner and making sure that your cat’s health needs are being met, I see no reason for this cat’s life to end prematurely. It is horrible to live in an environment that stinks of cat pee. But that’s why diapers were invented. You have to take advantage of our technology here. Put that cat in a diaper.
I have an older relative in his mid-40s, who is, for lack of a better term, a creeper. His mother was a wonderful woman with one huge blind spot: her youngest son. She babied him incessantly and supported him financially. He never moved out of her home, is socially stunted, and though friendly on the surface, can be a huge temper tantrum-throwing man-boy. Unfortunately, he also has a habit of stalking women.