We have three kittens (around 16 weeks old) and a bearded dragon in our household. The kittens are well fed and looked after because I look after all three of them. I have no qualms with that at all. They're little dudes.

The problem lies with the fact I have no clue how to look after a bearded dragon nor' do I have experience doing so. So I tend not to get involved too often.

I see regularly that the water is dirty or that there aren't many locusts in the tank (at this moment, there is only one). The housemate in question (I shall call him Bob for simplicity) only seems to get the water changed either when I remind him that the water is running low (maybe twice a week or when his dad visits maybe once a month). He also said he'd get locusts for the tank last week because I was asking questions about the bearded dragon purposely to hopefully trigger it, such as:

So, how often to bearded dragons eat? are they like snakes where they don't have to eat too often?

He replied:

I'll have to pick some up tomorrow

but tomorrow was six days ago. I'm worried because I'll be leaving this house soon to move to a new city and taking two of the kittens with me (which I own). Which means there will be one kitten and the bearded dragon left here (which he and his girlfriend Alice own). I couldn't live with myself if I left them without saying anything. Bob has an easy ride because he knows I'll feed them on schedule every day, I just don't want the other kitten to lose that routine or either of them to suffer when I go. I can also imagine because Bob used to live with his parents, they more than likely helped out with it too, this will be (from my own assumption) the first time he's looking after pets on his own.

What can I say or do to remind him to ensure that he keeps a sharp eye on his pets?

Additional information:

  • We also live with his girlfriend Alice, who'll be staying here and she loves the kittens to bits but is scared of the bearded dragon (so she's in the same boat as me in regards to having no clue what it needs)
  • I have no qualms being direct and upfront with him as I'll be leaving, but I don't want to burn any bridges with either of them, as I would like to check up on the kitten every now and then (I've grown to love him).
  • I would like to enforce that he doesn't mistreat the animals at all, he's great with the kittens and the bearded dragon, they are very much in a loving home. He's just a bit lazy when it comes to his responsibilities and needs a push in the right direction sometimes.
  • Bob had already owned the bearded dragon when he moved in and then we got the three kittens together (two mine and one his and his girlfriends)
  • What are your and his/Alice's plans for spaying/neutering the kittens?
    – user1760
    Aug 30, 2017 at 20:46
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    @ab2 They're all males, we'll be getting it done when they're around 6 months old. Aug 30, 2017 at 20:49

4 Answers 4


When this question was discussed in chat with the querant, a couple of days after asking, it transpired that the bearded dragon had died unexpectedly since the question was asked. I've answered the question as though the bearded dragon was still alive, although I have admittedly focused on the kittens.

The problem with telling your housemate to take better care of his pets, is the rather strong implication that he isn't doing so now. If you want to teach him how to take care of his pets, he first has to acknowledge that. Were you not moving in a few weeks, that would be the path to follow.

Take all three kittens with you

Since you are leaving in a couple of weeks and Alice seems to be on your side, you may be able to take all three kittens with you, to take care of them yourself.

This is not a general solution to teaching your housemate to take care of his pets, but it is a solution for the third kitten.
The bearded dragon was already his, there's not much you can do about that.

When you criticise him and tell him he's not properly taking care of his pets, he may perceive that as an attack on him. He'll want to defend by proving you wrong. The only way to prove you wrong, is by keeping the kitten and having that kitten thrive by continuing his current way of taking care of it.

Instead, shift the blame and the reason for taking the third kitten with you to something outside the both of you.

The three kittens are growing up together, it would be cruel for them to be separated.

That leaves him with a way out. He may be aware that he's not taking care of the kitten very well, but may not want to come to terms with that. This way, he will be doing something that benefits the kitten, proving that he is a good pet owner — he loves the kitten so much, he was prepared to let it go.

Also, offer and be prepared to compensate him financially, showing that it's not about you getting a third kitten in some sneaky way.

You could even get them a new kitten, but give it to Alice, if you trust her to take care of it.

  • If you take the attitude that "it's your job, but if you don't do it, I'll do it" he'll never do it. Mar 12, 2018 at 16:42
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    This solution feels like it has a pretty good chance of burning bridges. You can't really ask to take the cat without adding an implicit "I don't think you're a good pet owner" on to it. Your proposed script is probably the best route to avoid that, and even then it seems pretty likely that the roommate might take it as an indictment of their pet-owning skills. Of course, if OP is taking the cat, that's really the only reason they cared about not burning bridges, so maybe that's fine.
    – Tesset
    Mar 14, 2018 at 19:11

First of all, people who are good with pets are often found to be confident, empathetic and rich in interpersonal skills. Many members will attest to that common observation, and that rather explains your excellent questions and answers here on IPS.SE

(1) If Bob is the same type of 'good guy' as you are when it comes to pets then it is theoretically straightforward to communicate your concerns to him. In practice, it would be much easier if he is not an argumentative or defensive type of person. You could discuss the matter with him in a frank and positive manner: as in

You know I am leaving this town soon and I shall miss this kitten and this bearded dragon. I am sure you will take good care of them, but just for my peace of mind, please make it a point to give them timely attention -- not that you wouldn't, of course, but I know how you can be so busy with your projects at times, etc etc etc

In short you want to make it clear to him in a nice way that the animals completely depend on him, and you depend on him to take really good care of them. That puts a positive burden of responsibility on Bob to 'remember to do the right things at the right time.'

(2) Also take his GF into confidence if she is the right sort of person for that, and make her 'Bob's supervisor' and your informant & ally in ensuring that Bob takes timely and proper care of the kitten and the bearded dragon.

Note: A number of detailed articles on how to take proper care of bearded dragons can be found here

  • 3
    In the US, many people abuse or neglect their pets; it's such a problem that there are states now passing laws making abuse of animals a felony and giving animals "more rights" (as it is now, they are legally regarded as "property", which gives them few rights at all.) Aug 27, 2017 at 18:32
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    Let's re-phrase it as "people who are good with pets tend to be empathetic, etc" -- now edited to clarify, @anongoodnurse. It's rather different in India because people only have pets if they really care for them and not usually otherwise. I am not talking about farmers, of course, but farmers typically care for their animals well enough here. Aug 27, 2017 at 18:35
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    @anongoodnurse : as BradleyWilson is still in Europe for a couple of years ^^ pets are, AFAIK like in many US States, considered as living beings with emotions and sensitivity under the "Traity of Amsterdam* European Laws & Traities, and not as property anymore.
    – OldPadawan
    Aug 27, 2017 at 19:42
  • "living beings with emotions and sensitivity" -- this is part of the reason why many Indians don't 'own' or 'keep' pets, @OldPadawan: stray dogs, stray cats, monkeys (in some cities) and cattle stroll liesurely along the streets of India under the generic protection of the State against cruelty to animals. The animals seem to know it too and often conduct themself with aloof, 'citizenly' dignity. Aug 27, 2017 at 19:56

Not that your concerns aren't warranted, but most reptiles tend to be lower maintenance pets. Eating and laying around, slowly digesting, is just sort of how the reptiles do...

Cleaning and maintaining the terrarium is the trade off though... Many reptiles don't have the sense not to poop in the drinking water...

I would handle it like recommending an adjustment in routine.

Hey man, did you water the dragon today? He needs clean water every day, why not just make it apart of your morning ritual? Wake up, make coffee, swap the dragon water? Or you could use the kitten as a reminder, when the kitten whines for food, check on the dragon while you're at it.

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    If "Bob"'s behaviour is as described by the OP, what makes you assume he will feed the kitten when it whines? Putting it in another room where it can't be heard solves the short-term problem just as well, if you don't like kittens (and there are worse alternatives than that, of course).
    – alephzero
    Aug 27, 2017 at 20:51
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    OP has made it very clear about Bob that "I would like to enforce that he doesn't mistreat the animals at all, he's great with the kittens and the bearded dragon, they are very much in a loving home," @alephzero. Unfortunately (unlike the kitty) the B.Dragon will not whine when it is hungry... Aug 27, 2017 at 20:55
  • Here is a recent question that needs your attention and expert opinion for a solution, based on your strong background at music.SE, @alephzero: interpersonal.stackexchange.com/questions/2642/… Aug 27, 2017 at 20:59
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    Reptiles may have low-maintenance feeding habits, but being cold-blooded there other living requirements may be quite high maintenance - for example there may be a rather delicate balance between keeping them warm, and the heat sources burning their skin.
    – alephzero
    Aug 27, 2017 at 21:03
  • @EnglishStudent There is no way the OP can "enforce" anything after moving to a different city. Wishing for something nice doesn't make it happen!
    – alephzero
    Aug 27, 2017 at 21:05

Tell Bob and Alice if they decide they don't want the other kitten, and before they get rid of it to let you know, Don't get into it over the lizard, and ruin the hopes of getting the other kitten, because it sounds like Bob and Alice won't be wanting to care for the kitten in the future when you are the one who is taking care of it now, and they don't care to take care of the lizard for whatever reason. It's not worth shutting the door over the lizard if the kitten is the focus.

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