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Me and my partner have an indoor cat. She stays in our apartment except when we are away travelling, then we take her to my partner's parents to look after her until we get back (this happens 2-3 times a year for about a week or less at a time). Both the parents are very fond of her and especially the mother (let's call her Amy) loves taking care of and playing with her. When she communicates by phone or when we are visiting, she always asks how the cat is first.

Our kitty is healthy (physically and mentally) and quite well trained (she rarely gets into trouble). When she's visiting Amy's house she gets spoiled of course, but I don't mind at all. What I do mind though is that Amy feels entitled to give advice about how to raise the kitty - e.g. that she needs to eat in the morning as well, have access to all rooms when we are at work. This advice gets repeated almost every time we speak and it often has an accusatory tone which I am not fond of.

What have I tried so far:

  • Kindly explain why the kitty cannot have all that and how this doesn't make her less happy.
  • Change the subject.
  • Not answer/speak at all.
  • Note that we have already discussed this and concluded it wasn't possible to follow the advice.

What was the impact of my above actions:

  • Same advice given next time we meet, although I don't think Amy forgot the justification I've given previously. Anyway, I have repeated the justification quite a few times.
  • Same.
  • "Did you hear me?" and further elaborating on what she believes must be done. And the same advice being given next time we meet.
  • Acted offended for the rest of the visit. Same advice next time.

My partner - Amy's child - either ignores her or becomes a little rude (when tired). Ignoring her didn't work for me as I mentioned earlier and I really want to avoid being rude as I am too grateful to them for taking care of my cat.

NOTE: Amy has never had an indoor cat before.

Is there a way that I can avoid such unwanted advice from Amy (permanently if possible)?

  • Have you tried asking her why she feels these changes need to be made so strongly? – Onyz Aug 29 '18 at 13:54
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    Has your partner's mother ever owned cats before? Is there anyone else who could look after the cat if things with your partner's mother don't improve? – user8671 Aug 29 '18 at 14:13
  • @Kozaky Not an indoor cat. She feeds strays and makes them obese :p No there is noone unfortunately. – clueless Aug 29 '18 at 14:19
  • Is Amy currently raising and kids/pets at this time? I've seen something like this happen when my friend (an only child) left his parents house and got his own. His mom would constantly give tips on how to raise his dog (to be fair, she did own a dog before) even when asked not to. – TheRealLester Aug 29 '18 at 14:21
  • @TheRealLester Currently she feeds strays. She never had an indoor cat. No kids at the time either. – clueless Aug 29 '18 at 14:29
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I used to own pets that would require someone else to look after them for a few days if I was out of the country. Despite raising them in good health, my parents - who usually volunteered to look after them - were determined to offer advice and question my responsibilities at every opportunity. You and I are not the first to be in this situation; I have heard and read many stories of people who leave their dogs with the parents for a long holiday, only to come back to the dog being noticeably overfed and a novel about how things could improve.

In my own experience, this seems to be an extension of a parenting nature. Their responsibility goes beyond just looking after Kitty for a weekend; as Kitty belongs to their child, Amy probably feels in-part responsible for Kitty's well-being, almost like if Kitty were a grandchild. If you ever question the approach of a parent to parenting... it doesn't go down well.

What I tried (that was largely successful) is something you might not be too keen on; agree with Amy. 99% of the time, Amy does not see the cat and has no proof beyond your word that what she suggests is actually being done. Amy can dole out advice forever but you don't need to act on it. If she suggests you feed it more, reply that you will consider it, or even that you will try it. If she asks later why the cat hasn't been putting on weight, give her the facts that your cat is in a perfectly healthy weight range and gets plenty of exercise. On subsequent meetings, simply in a friendly manner remind her that she already gave you this advice. Once Amy has the impression you two are actually taking her advice to heart rather than objecting to it, the nagging may decrease.

Unless you are leaving Kitty at Amy's mercy for weeks at a time on a regular basis, she is unlikely to incur any long-term issues from Amy's 'alternative approach'.

In an extreme circumstance, you may have to put your foot down as you would with anyone who is critical of your approach. If it is causing such a rift, it may be better for everyone in the long run to look into professional long-term pet carers (I've seen them for dogs, they must surely exist for cats), or seeking out someone else who can help.

And if on the phone she asks how the cat is before you... I'd want to cite personal experience again but my own replies to this have been at least partly sarcastic. "Mrs. Kozaky and I are fine thanks", and not mention the pet at all. (If you're determined to stay on good terms with Amy, one would not advise this.)

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The advise my father has given me about other people offering me advice repeatedly is to say and do the following... "Thank you for your advice. Let me write that down." Afterwards all you need to say if it is repeated is that you reviewed their advice and have made your decision on how to deal with it. Anything beyond that must be met with a firm "I made my decision on the matter. Please respect my decision!"

As it turned out, I used that very good advice right back to my parents.

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