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I've had my cat for the past 13 years and it is very important to me. The cat used to live at my parents place, as did I; I moved out two years ago.

Recently, my parents took a 4-month vacation and I took the cat to my apartment (pets are allowed, as per my lease). My roommates (who share the apartment with me) tolerate it well enough, but it is slightly irritating to them as the cat sometimes poops outside the litter box (I take care of it) or meows early in the morning. It's not critical, but annoying to them nonetheless.

As I was expecting it to be temporary, my roommates accepted the situation without much issues, but they would still like the cat gone. The problem is that, now that my parents are back, I found out that they expected this to be a permanent situation, not a temporary one.

I'm therefore stuck between a rock and a hard place as my roommates would like the cat gone and my parents don't seem to want it back. Euthanizing the cat is NOT an option and I do not want to give it away (where I would not be able to see it). I will have the option to move only in july next year, which I feel is probably too far to drag the issue. My girlfriend can not host it as she has a cat of her own.

How can I solve this issue in a way that leaves everyone satisfied? I don't feel it's appropriate to impose on my roommates or my parents, but perhaps there is a way to resolve the situation I haven't considered? The cat is extremely important and I am willing to make sacrifices.

UPDATE: I ended up asking my parents again and explaining the situation. They decided to take the cat back at least until July in exchange for me taking it back when they travel. My roommates agreed to this so everything is solved! Thanks to everyone who posted an answer!

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    As a question, why does your girlfriend having a cat exempt her from having your cat? If it's a matter of she doesn't want to that's fine, but there must be a different reason than "because she can't". – Anoplexian - Reinstate Monica Oct 31 '17 at 22:32

11 Answers 11

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"You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need."

It sounds like your only option is to live with the cat and try to square it with your roommates. If that means keeping close tabs on the litter box and waking up early to settle the cat before it wakes the house up, that's likely what you're going to have to do.

Part of living with roommates is being flexible. It's unfortunate, but that's how these things tend to go. Hopefully over time they'll grow to accept the cat and love it too.

Sometimes throwing an extra 6 pack of beer in the fridge, once in a while, can go a long way towards buying good will in these cases.

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    It sounds like your only option is to live with the cat Or they could just explain to their parents that they were mistaken, it really depends on if they were trying to get rid of the cat or actually just thought that this was a permanent situation. – George Oct 30 '17 at 11:11
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    +1 for extra beer. Or, extra money towards the rent if that can be afforded. – anongoodnurse Oct 30 '17 at 15:53
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    Or they'll hate it even more and "accidentally" get rid of it. I think keeping the cat is out of the question, because it is necessary to respect the space of others. If the cat is bothering your roommates, you need to sort this out by being honest with them . If they accept the cat's permanence, great. If not, you will have to move. You can talk to your parents to keep the cat with them while you find a new place to live. – dvc.junior Oct 30 '17 at 18:55
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    @dvc.junior If you have something to say, please post an answer. We generally try to discourage this kind of commenting. – apaul Oct 30 '17 at 18:57
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    This is a good answer. I would suggest, however, that in addition to keeping close tabs on the litter box, and waking up early, it would be helpful to tell your roommates ahead of time that that is what you plan on doing. If you proactively approach your roommates, acknowledge that the past 4 months have been less than ideal from their perspective, and then explain that you plan on trying to improve the situation, they are more likely to accept this as a permanent change. – Beofett Oct 30 '17 at 19:54
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You say the problem with your room mates is due to the fact sometimes the cat goes outside of the litter tray.

Now, if this is the only problem they have with the cat, then the solution is likely to be cleaning out the litter tray more often, or having more litter trays. As someone who's had many cats, they only go outside the litter tray if they are ill, or it's unclean. (Would you use a dirty toilet happily?).

Unfortunately from experience, most litter trays are both too small, and the sides aren't high enough for the cat to be sure they are 'in' the tray. I've had some cats who'd try and sit in the tray, but end up on the edge and make a mess outside of it.

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    I agree with this answer wholeheartedly. Clean, large enough, plus one. My son and his wife have five cats, and the unwritten "rule" is to always have one more litterbox than the number of cats. 1 cat = 2 litterboxes. Also, as you said, big enough. and to further restrict where the poop ends up, a plastic cover for the box that makes it more like a 'litter room' (can't poop over the side.) Taking care of this takes care of a lot of problems. – anongoodnurse Oct 30 '17 at 15:52
  • A good option for a cheap "litter box" that is both larger and deeper is a plastic storage box. My dad's cat happily uses just one box but it is 2.5'-3' long and about 1.5' wide. The box itself is perhaps 8" deep but with about 4-5" of litter in it. – BunnyKnitter Oct 30 '17 at 18:31
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    Same rule in my family (and at my home). #of litters boxes is #cats+1. And cleaned twice per day. – Hennes Oct 30 '17 at 18:54
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    Hm. Sometimes they don't like the location, or they might have a hard time getting to it. Making sure that it's easily accessible for the cat is a must, too, especially since the cat is older. Being in a new environment can also stress cats, which may be a contributing factor. – jpmc26 Oct 30 '17 at 23:09
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    If the litter tray is in the living room, it's not entirely surprising the housemates don't like it! Quite apart from the cat doing its business there, even well-maintained litter trays can smell. – Andrew Leach Nov 1 '17 at 9:23
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Seems like the main problem is the litter tray. It's your cat - put the tray in your own room. Retrain the cat to use it there. It's an imposition on your room-mates to have a cat there: imagine the situation if one or more of them decided to have their own pet cat/dog there too !!

If they're not too bothered about the cat just being there, that's good, and can be helped with various offerings to show your (and the cat's) gratitude from time to time.

The only other solution to enable the cat to stay with you is to move out to another place, but not all places will allow pets.

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In many situations, it is not possible to satisfy everyone. Still, some form of compromise can be reached in a lot of cases.

First of all, your roommates are right to demand that the cat gets out of the apartment. They agreed to it temporarily, and are probably fed up about it, but tolerated it because it was, in fact, temporary (there might even some legal problems, make sure pets are allowed in our apartment).

The problem is miscommunication with your parents. You have some options there. make it clear to them that you understood that this was a temporary solution. You said you will be able to move in a few months. So ask your parents to take back the cat temporarily, until you can move. Make sure to stress that you will tae the cat as soon as you get a new place to live (and make sure your new place to live can accomodate your cat). Your parents will not be happy, but they might agree to this compromise. Make sure to stress that you can not keep the cat.

In the meantime, you can make it easier for your roommates and might even persuad them to keep up with the cat a bit longer. Go out of your way to make sure your at doesn't bother them. Wake up early, before the cat starts to make noise, and either settle the cat or take it outside.

Make sure to clean up after your cat quickly. Also, littering outside the box is a symptom of a problem. Get another litter box. Preferably a bigger one. Clean it more often. There are usually reasons why cats do not use litter boxes, and all of hem can be remedied (maybe its in the wrong location?). I wonder why you kept the cat for four months and never ever tried to find a solution to the littering problem, it would have gone onto my nerves on the second day, and i would have scarmbled to fix that problem before it began inconveniencing my roommates.

If the littering problem is also a problem for your parents, solving the littering problem might also buy you a lot of goodwill with your parents. "Hey Mom, Dad. Look, I bought this new litter box. The cat really likes it and doesn't poop outside anymore. She is much more easy to handle now. unfortunately, I stil can not keep her in the apartment, but given that she is clean now, she is much easier to take care of. I will also do grocery shopping for you twice a week if you look after the cat until I can move". Sound like a good compromise, doesn't it?

You say your girldfirend can not host the cat. Why is that? There are households with multiple cats. Explore that option. you should question what obstacles there are too it and wether those can be remedied (e.g. by castrating your cat, if that is an issue). Don't dismiss this possibility easily. maybe your girlfriend is just afraid of the responsibility? taking care of the cat of another person is a big responsibility, and maybe the issue isn't even the cat, but the leap in your relationship this might mean. So have an open and honest talk with her.

The thing is, you will not achieve a situation where everyone gets what they want right now (because their current wants are contradictory), but you might be able to reach a compromise or modify some wants (or offer some payback) in order to achieve consensus. And you will likely be the one to make sacrifices, too, because its your cat, and your problem and you want to inconvenience others. So make sure you let them feel that you apreciate what they are doing and pay it back in kind (by making sure you do what you can to remedy all problems as far as possible, but also by offering your help, support, and of course free beer now and then).

So, explore those options. And be prepared that you are the one who has to make the most sacrifices in order to get your problem solved. Most people are quite approachable and give in to your needs when you demonstrate your goodwill and determination to do the best you can to minimize inconveniences. But make sure to follow up on your promises, as broken expectations lead to frustration and resentment.

  • Good answer! As for my girlfriend, I already asked her and she said she would if she didn't have a cat of her own, so that's out. – JS Lavertu Oct 31 '17 at 13:33
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    @JSLavertu having a cat of her own isn't an argument, though. Its a statement of fact, but I fail to see why that is cause for her not taking care of your cat as well. So yeah, ask her. Is it too much work for her to take care of two cats? You can do something about that by helping her out in other ways. Find out what exactly the problem is and you can figure out wether you can adress it or not. But the simple statement "I can't, I already have a cat" is very superficial and shallow. I'd expect that from someone I don't know well, not from someone I want to have a long relationship with. – Polygnome Oct 31 '17 at 13:42
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    No offence, but who are you to judge my girlfriend's motives? As I said, I already asked her and she clearly said she does not want to host my cat. That's final. – JS Lavertu Oct 31 '17 at 14:55
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    @JSLavertu ... perhaps the reason you ended up on this forum for interpersonal skills is one of the same reasons you are having difficulties with the roommates. Asking for help & then getting offended about your gf (who is a probably a grown woman & if she cares, she can come defend herself) is not really helpful to the goal of learning to resolve issues. "... but who are you to judge my girlfriend's motives..." might be better left unsaid at this point as you open a new discourse, which clouds the waters & might open new layers of discussion as well as emotional items that get in the way. – Mirv - Matt Oct 31 '17 at 15:37
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    @JSLavertu Sorry, I framed that wrong. I'm only saying that her answer is evasive and she didn't exactly tell you why already having a cat means she can't host a second one (many people do). You are the one who know her and has to know wether you ask her about it. "Its final" sound like this is a touchy topic - which is fine, those exist. If I'm mistaken and its not a touchy topic with her, there is little to loose by having another talk and trying to get a better understanding of why she doesn't want your cat. Only knowledge of motives helps finding compromises. – Polygnome Oct 31 '17 at 15:41
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With one exception, I'm not going to repeat the good advice you have already received, but rather focus on the cat's behavior. My credentials: a total of over 100 cat-years of experience with cats.

This I will repeat: You should be fanatical about scooping the litter box and also periodically completely change the litter.

You should analyze where and when the cat poops outside the litter box. Does the cat poop near, but outside, the litter box, or does she choose another location? If the first, the suggestions about a larger box with higher sides may work. If the second, the cat probably does not feel comfortable using her litter box in the living room when there is a lot of activity going on there. She may be looking for seclusion and privacy. We once had a cat who would never poop or pee if a person was nearby.

I'm a big cat lover, but I wouldn't want a litter box in my living room. I don't think a second litter box will appeal to your roommates, unless it is in your private space, and it won't appeal to the cat unless it is in a quieter space than the living room. You don't say whether you have a room to yourself, but if you do, this is the place for the second box; possibly if the current litter box is moved into your room, you may not need a second box.

I know it is not appealing to have a litter box in a small bedroom, but you said that you were willing to make sacrifices. The more fanatical you are about cleaning the litter box, the less the sacrifice will be.

Whatever you can do to give the cat a secluded, private, quiet place for her litter box will help.

One more point, because this is Inter-Personal Relationships, not Cross-Species Relationships: Discuss your thoughts about solutions with your roommates, and listen to their input.

I'm not going to address the meowing, because this answer is long enough already -- except, get her to purr when your roommates are around. Few people can resist a purring cat.

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If you can't move, and your parents won't take the cat back, I think your best option is to do your best to mitigate the cat's problem behaviors, or at least minimize the amount your roommates have to deal with them.

I agree with the advice to get a second litterbox and keep them covered. I have two cats and that cuts down on the mess tremendously.

If you can keep the cat in your room with you at night, that should at least cut down on the noise from the meowing. I saw you mentioned above that the cat used to be an outdoor cat - if there's an area where the cat can roam easily it may be a good idea to get a harness and long leash so the cat can get some time outside. Ultimately the best solution to the meowing is probably to try to figure out what the cat wants and provide it.

If you talk to the roommates and have a plan to keep the cat out of their space and as clean as possible, that may make them more amenable to letting the cat stay. The case of beer that someone else suggested above couldn't hurt either. Given that the cat is soiling the floors, I would also suggest you offer to cover the cost of a final carpet cleaning when you/the cat move out - your roommates may be concerned about the cost/effort cleaning.

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I'd love to have a cat around my house.

I imagine if you asked about you probably unknowingly know somebody that would also.

If you approach a few people with the following points, you might easily find temporary house-room until July (or permanently, your choice) for the cat nearby at somebody you trust's house.

  • Your cat sounds like a (no offence) relatively simple older house-cat, I imagine they're quite calm?
  • A cat like yours is a good first time pet for a family who want to see what it's like, with the agreement that you'd take it back next July.
  • You'd be covering any health-bills for the pet, so less worry.

Part of the agreement would include the ability to visit the cat and... erm, do you take cat's for walks? I don't have one, sorry xD

Note this may or may not work, but I wanted to provide another option to your possibilities.

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    To answer the contained questions: no, usually you don't walk cats. This one sounds like an exclusive indoor-cat. Outdoor-cats will usually walk themselves, some may accompany their human for a walk for a bit just because they want to, VERY few will tolerate or even enjoy a walk on a leash, but even those do exists. – Layna Oct 30 '17 at 12:57
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    @Layna many thanks, one day I might have a cat and get to discover all this first hand. Until then I'll just declare them kitties according to proximity (xkcd.com/231/). – Tom Oct 30 '17 at 13:04
  • @Layna The cat was an outdoors cat since my parents live in the subburbs, but I live in the city so we keep her inside. – JS Lavertu Oct 30 '17 at 13:38
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    Most cats do not get walked. Cat activities mainly consist of petting, playing with a toy (a long string, rope, strap, one of those feather toys, something that can be tossed), and feeding. – jpmc26 Oct 30 '17 at 23:12
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    @JSLavertu You might want to ask about the pooping outside the litterbox on Pets.SE. If a cat is used to pooping outdoors, how have others successfully retrained the cat? That doesn't seem like an IPS answer, so just commenting. – Brythan Nov 1 '17 at 5:55
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I think you have to preface any conversation about this issue with an assurance that you understand that you are responsible for resolving this problem and will find a way to solve it that will make everyone happy even if that requires you finding another place to live. After that any of the suggestions here could work. Don't even try to convince any of them to compromise their feelings or comfort for your situation.

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My summary of the situation ...

  1. You sat down and asked the roommates if you can keep the cat.
  2. They said no. They listed the bio hazards and noise complaints as primary concerns.

You are here to learn how to present the fact you have to keep the cat in a political manner that balances your responsibility for the cats life against the needs of the roommates to return to the status quo; pre-cat.

  • I try to go to non-violent communication (Link) techniques of listening to their problems, restating them in your words until they get out all of their concerns & also deflate any emotional stress.

  • Open the door for other expectations they have of you which might not be fulfilled? Is there something else that makes you unwilling to work with me till June when we can part ways? Did you plan on parting ways even before the cat?

  • Maybe they want their own cat & this is a good way of laying ground rules the household pets?

  • Is there another way to turn it into a situation in which they can benefit from?

  • Trade something for their acceptance of the cat? Maybe you do extra rounds of dishes or agree not to play music late at night?

  • Offer to keep the cat in your room if possible till the liter issue is resolved?

On the side, as this is only about interpersonal ... perhaps the compromise is getting the parents to split the time till you can move out?

Which leads to the second question someone else nailed ...

  • how would you go about negotiating with the girlfriend if you had to move in with her? Who gives up their cat? Perhaps this a chance to acclimate the two cats slowly...which might help 3 months at the gfs for kitty - giving everyone a break, 3 months again at your place & 3 months at the parents while you & maybe the girlfriend are packing/moving etc.
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" I dont feel it's appropriate to impose on my roommates or my parents" You're not imposing on your parents by giving them back their cat, they imposed on you and your roommates by having you look after the cat in the first place.

You need to explain to your parents that the cat was not originally on your lease, and your roommates didn't know they were agreeing to a poopy apartment when they signed the lease. They need to keep the cat at least until your lease is up, at which point it would be appropriate to draw up a new lease with the same roommates, find new roommates, or find a new apartment which allows cats and has roommates who don't mind.

This isn't negotiable. You looking after the cat was a (fairly long term) favor to your parents, and they shouldn't expect you to have to look after the cat forever when that was never the agreement.

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    The cat is mine. Not my parents. – JS Lavertu Oct 30 '17 at 17:15
  • @JSLavertu the fact still stands that they basically dumped it on you without asking. "temporary" is VERY different than permanent. Perhaps they could take it back until you move in July. Have you asked them or discussed this with them yet? If not, why the heck not? – BunnyKnitter Oct 30 '17 at 18:34
  • @SnyperBunny I havent discussed it with them yet because I'll be able to do so in person in a few days. The cat isnt risking immediate eviction yet so it's fine. Having my parents keep it until july is a good idea however! – JS Lavertu Oct 30 '17 at 20:48
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Money

Explain the situation to your room-mates. Let me know you understand this is not something they signed up for. And let them know this is an animal that have loved for more than a decade.

Promise to take extra care of the litter - and keep that promise. This might include buying fancy new litter boxes.

Then offer to pick up a larger share of the rent. I would suggest offering an amount of money to afford a decent meal out, for each roommate, each month. (An "extra little something every once in a while" is not a sufficient offer.)

Be prepare for your roommates to accept or decline the offer. If they accept, you have a contract - your money and best-faith efforts for their toleration.

(If someone declines and says they "just want the cat gone" then be very careful. Your cat may not be safe in your apartment. Try extra hard to find another solution.)

Then, keep the lines of communication open. This means you ask your roommates periodically how things are going with the cat - don't wait for them to bring it up.

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