Etiquette expert Charlotte Reed advises that you give your roommate a gift, with a very clear message about pet care

By People Staff
Updated November 24, 2009 10:01 PM

Expert Charlotte Reed, the author of The Miss Fido Manners Complete Book of Dog Etiquette, takes on a dilemma that will cause a catfight in any living situation: a roommate pawing off her cat duties on you. Do you have a dilemma that you’d like her to tackle? Drop us an email at!

Dear Miss Kitty Etiquette:

My roommate is never home. She expects me to take care of her cat. How do I remind her that her cat is her responsibility?

Dear Purrfect Roommate:

Your email reminded me of a time in life when I was sharing digs with a college friend. At the time, the problem did not involve cat care but apartment care. She was a slob and I felt as if I was becoming her maid. I still regret how I confronted her: Long story short, after a major catfight, we were no longer friends or roommates. If only I had taken a cue from TV’s favorite roommates, The Odd Couple’s Oscar Madison and Felix Unger, I would have handled the situation differently.

As pet owners, it’s easy to love our cats but is not always convenient to take care of them. As a result, I always encourage potential pet owners to think before they obtain a furry friend. Having a cat can be a 7- to 20-year commitment, one in which you need to have time and some money to do so successfully.

Instead of chastising your roommate for constantly pawing-off her cat-care duties, prepare a gift basket filled with a bag of litter, the Da Bird Cat Teaser (a fishing pole toy that no cat should be without), cat litter deodorizer, a scooper, a grooming brush and a scratching post.

When the time comes for gifting your roommate, don’t leave the present like a cat leaves a dead bird for its owner – with the best intentions but no explanation! In this case, gift in person. Tell your roommate that as much as you enjoy spending time with her cat, you do not want to get stuck cleaning the litter box. Emphasize that she really needs to either find a pet nanny or invest in an automatic feeder and self-cleaning litter box. Lastly, let her know that you spent time and money selecting these products so she knows how sincere you are about helping her have a better relationship with her cat.

And if all else fails, the next time that she asks you take care of her cat, tell her to take the cat home to her mother or boyfriend’s apartment. I guarantee her cattitude will change!


Miss Kitty Etiquette

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