Don't let the dog eat the bunting - rude or informative?
September 17, 2011 8:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm sending my brother + SIL a handmade baby bunting that has been around cats...and they have a dog. It is reasonable or rude to let them know this in case the dog finds it irresistibly chewable?

I had someone make an AMAZING baby bunting for my brother and SIL's new baby (due next month). It's entirely, beautifully hand sewn, and made exclusively for them. The woman who made it has 4 cats and she's sending it to me to wrap and send. I have two cats. Brother and SIL have a dog. Now, I like dogs, but I notice that some people with dogs seem to, even after years, seem to put their possessions and dogs in proximity which would pretty much guarantee destruction. I have one friend who says that when she bakes, there is not one place in the house where the dogs cannot get to said baked goods. Not the microwave, fridge, no closets or high place. So she's saying the dogs are literally smarter than her, and is apparently ok with this. This baffles me. I have not seen such behavior with my brother and SIL but I do know their dog is crafty and they're constantly having to try to outsmart him from getting into things (usually food). My thought was that I'd let them know that this item was made around cats, and therefore might be more than normally attractive to their dog, and they might want to keep it out of his reach. A friend of mine tells me this is incredibly rude, that this is giving a gift with "instructions". I'm not sure how it's instructing when I'm not commanding them to do something, and instead giving them info they wouldn't otherwise have (this item will have a scent of cat on it), and they can do with that what they want. To me it seems like it's better they have that info than not (before the dog potentially eats it and they don't know why), and I don't understand how that reads as rude. Hence I'm asking you guys. Rude, or helpful info to have? [maybe the answer is just to wash it before I send it, but there may not be time, and I'm still interested in the rude vs. helpful question]
posted by FlyByDay to Human Relations (10 answers total)
Try to wash it, yes, even if it means you send it a few days after the baby is born. But I'd definitely let them know that the item comes from a house with cats. Not rude at all, in my book. I think your friend is being a little over the top.

You don't necessarily even have to mention their dog. I have no pets, and I'd want to know if an item, especially a baby item, came from a cat house, if for no other reason than to make sure I wash it before putting it on the baby so that any allergy or other issues don't crop up. Tell them.
posted by decathecting at 8:50 PM on September 17, 2011

Most people get in a habit of washing all baby stuff in whatever their preferred baby-friendly detergent anyway. (Dreft sucks, FWIW.)

Assuming your SIL will do this as well, I wouldn't worry. Plus they know that you have a cat. If they're concerned about it (and as a cat, dog, and baby owner, I don't think that they would be), they'll wash it.
posted by k8t at 8:56 PM on September 17, 2011

As a dog owner, I might roll my eyes a bit at the implicit suggestion that I don't know my dog well enough to figure out what needs to be kept away from her or not (do you know for certain that this dog is especially interested in cats and cat-smelling things? Would you feel a bit patronized if your brother sent you something with a warning that you should keep your cats from clawing it up?) - but even so I wouldn't necessarily find it "rude" ... more like something someone would say if they didn't really get what dog ownership is like - fussy at most, but in a more or less okay-ish way.

However, the way you've written this question does come off as mildly off-putting in a "gosh, dog people must be dumber than their dogs!" way, so if you do feel the need to say something to your brother I'd be careful not to let that seep through. On preview I like what decathecting says about the new parents wanting to know something comes from a cat-ful place so they could wash it in case of allergies or whatnot - maybe it would be best to frame it like that and just leave the dog out of it altogether.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:01 PM on September 17, 2011

As a dog owner, I might roll my eyes a bit at the implicit suggestion that I don't know my dog well enough to figure out what needs to be kept away from her or not (do you know for certain that this dog is especially interested in cats and cat-smelling things?>>

I would too, if I hadn't been in several situations where dog owners put things in front of their dogs that they knew their dogs would destroy/had destroyed multiple times before, and then expressed surprise. Which is why I said "this baffles me". Like, once you learn that your dog does x behavior that's destructive, don't you stop allowing dog to be in the place to destroy? But I agree that framing in the way suggested makes sense. That's all I was intending to say anyways.
posted by FlyByDay at 9:09 PM on September 17, 2011

Unless the cats have been sleeping on it or rubbing their faces on it, it's not likely to smell enough like cats to interest the dog. And unless this dog is particularly destructive or crazy, he's not going to tear something apart because it's cat-scented. Dogs are usually like "hmm, smell, oh look a thing over there." There's very little risk here.

But I'd recommend that you, or the maker, wash it anyway, so you're sure it's clean and doesn't have any allergens hanging around. It's a nice thing to do. Let the couple know it's been pre-washed, in case they're the type to wash everything before using it.

It's okay to mention that the bunting was made in a home with cats. This isn't like giving a baby present that requires dry-cleaning or other super-special fussy care instructions (which isn't necessarily rude, but certainly not well-thought-out). Their initial thought won't be "keep this away from the dog!!" but probably "ew, is this covered in cat hair?" So it'll be a relief if you follow up the cat revelation with "...but I've washed it, so it should be totally clean."

It's not rude to tell, but it's not as crucial as you might think. Either way, wash it.

(On preview, if they regularly leave things out that the dog destroys, well, that's why they can't have nice things. Once it passes into their hands, there's nothing you can do to protect it.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:15 PM on September 17, 2011

As an owner of a dog who will sniff-search me and my belongings after I've been out, I would appreciate a heads-up of "This thing probably smells like six different cats." I wouldn't be offended by that in the slightest. It'd save me the awkward followup of "I like it, but the dog really likes it, and I can't figure out why."

I'd wash it myself then, because the detergents I use are of no interest to the dog. She's used to those smells.
posted by cmyk at 9:46 PM on September 17, 2011

What kind of dog do they have? Not all dogs are the same, but cats don't smell like food. Has this dog ever even met a real cat? If its the kind of dog that chews anything then its going to try to chew it regardless of whether it smells of cat. We have a scent hound now and any new smell gets his attention, the dogs we had before that had no interest in sniffing anything that wasn't clearly food. I don't however think its incredibly rude to tell them it was made by someone with cats (but I'd leave out telling them to keep it away from the dog - that implies not only do they not know their own dog enough to know what to keep away from him based on evidence from other dog owners, not them but also that they'd endanger their baby)
posted by missmagenta at 12:22 AM on September 18, 2011

I assume that your brother already knows that you have cats - therefore, he can probably make the logical jump that it has been in a house that has cats. From the dog-owning parents perspective, if you mentioned the presence of cat, I'd be more worried that you were warning me that there would be clumps of gross cat fur on the bunting.
posted by fermezporte at 5:54 AM on September 18, 2011

It is simply mind-boggling to me that anyone would think it was rude to mention that this had been in a house with cats. It seems to me that my friends and I pass bits of information like this to each other all the time when gift-giving or passing along hand-me-downs. I agree with other folks who say it probably won't be an issue in any case, but if you just give them the information they can decide what they want to do about it.
posted by not that girl at 6:18 AM on September 18, 2011

I've actually found that a 'warning' such as this is pretty standard. For example, I've received esty products with a little note to the effect of "This was made in a non-smoking home but there are cats." or something like that. I don't think it's rude at all to mention it - largely because people will want to decide whether to wash it or not depending on a) their feelings about cat hair and b) their baby.
posted by machine at 1:57 PM on September 21, 2011

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