Crazy Cat Lady
November 8, 2007 11:44 AM   Subscribe

Help me out, Hive Mind, with some excellent arguments in favor of pets in general and cats in particular, so I don't have to divorce my husband.

I want a cat. I grew up with and adored a very special pet cat when I was a girl. I have taken care of pets and of course I'm aware of the responsibilities that come with being a pet holder. My children are growing older, my blood pressure is growing higher, and I want a companion to help me fill my empty nest once more. My husband, who has only had one experience with a (demon-spawn) cat, is really anti-cat as a result.

Things are now coming to a head, as my youngest son also wants a pet, and had our neighbors sign a petition he made up himself, thus spurring me to action. It is looking like I must choose either my spouse or the cat, and I am leaning dangerously close to picking the cat. Help me convince my husband that cats are not the enemy, please!

His specific worries are that a cat will smell up the house with a litter box, pee on our carpet and tear up our leather couch.

We do have a large screened-in porch and backyard, and our leather couch is ten years + old, but we ARE considering new carpeting for the entire house.

P.S. yes, I would adopt, neuter and fully vaccinate a shelter-rescued cat.
posted by misha to Pets & Animals (55 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's been scientifically proven that petting an animal lowers your stress, which in turn lengthens your life.

A happy, trained cat with a well-tended litter box (really, you want an old utility room) will not pee on things unless there is some other sort of issue of territory freaking him or her out.

A cat will scratch on all sorts of things, and that is a valid complaint, but most cats prefer something scratch and fabric to leather. Cat scratching posts really do help, and of course you must know already that de-clawing a cat is not the answer.

Must you get new carpeting? Could you get nice wood floors instead?
posted by DenOfSizer at 11:49 AM on November 8, 2007

His specific worries are that a cat will smell up the house with a litter box, pee on our carpet and tear up our leather couch.

The litter box won't smell if you clean it every day and change the litter every few days. It will smell immediately after a cat takes a poop in it, though, so I wouldn't stick it in your living room or anything. Do you have a basement or utility room where you can put it? Or a powder room?

Re: peeing on the carpet, see above. Cats go in litter boxes. They only pee on the carpet if they're sick.

If you're worried about the couch, get those little plastic covers that go over a cat's claws so he can't scratch up your furniture. And get ready for a big argument over declawing in this thread.
posted by amro at 11:50 AM on November 8, 2007

Regarding your husband, "A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still." Marshal every single argument - potent, compelling, convincing - that is posted in this thread, and what you'll have at the end is a boatload of strong arguments and a guy who doesn't want to live with a cat.

Regarding your marriage, if your marriage is seriously threatened by your desire for a cat, you should stop worrying about the cat for a minute and start wondering why a piece of trivia like this could seriously threaten your marriage. Please tell me you were exaggerating for dramatic effect so we can get on with the business of generating powerful pro-cat arguments.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:51 AM on November 8, 2007 [4 favorites]

His specific worries are that a cat will smell up the house with a litter box, pee on our carpet and tear up our leather couch.

His worries are quite well founded unless you're getting an adult cat, which hopefully at least won't do the second two of those.
posted by poppo at 11:52 AM on November 8, 2007

Let me be the first to say that if you're in the US, which I assume you are, you could adopt a cat which has already had its claws removed (I am anti-declawing, but we won't go there!), thus removing the leather couch issues.

Could the litter box go on your porch? I have one inside my tiny apartment, and if cleaned regularly it really doesn't smell.

As for the cat pissing on the carpet, well, there can always be 'issues' (especially if the cat is sick, upset or cross with you), but as you know a determined owner can work together with a vet to solve these.

I think his concerns are ones which can easily be overcome. I guess you've tried selling him on the positive sides of cats? The love, companionship and the cosiness of having a warm furry friend purring on your lap on a cold night are amazing things which he obviously hasn't experienced before.
posted by different at 11:53 AM on November 8, 2007

For your furniture. My friend's cat wears them. Cats seem to not mind them at all.

A litter box scooped daily doesn't stink.
posted by hermitosis at 11:55 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

You can also get Softpaws claw caps to prevent scratching. (Plus, bonus funky-colored kitty toenails!) My cat loved to scratch furniture until we bought her a few scratching-things (a post, a rattan mouse from Ikea, one of those catnip-filled cardboard scratching pads).

And yeah, litterboxes only stink up the house if they're dirty. Cats don't pee on the carpet unless they are ill, or the litterbox is seriously disgusting.

Plus, you get loads of free entertainment -- get the kitty stoned on catnip! Watch it stalk a bit of lint!
posted by sarcasticah at 11:57 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

His specific voiced worries are pretty concrete, and a well-cared for cat will probably not offend that way (although choosing a couch finish of a very tight chintz or that thin, faux-suede whose exact name I can't remember right now would be a good idea. One of those cardboard Alpine sloping cat-scratchers would also help.)

But if he had a lousy experience in childhood, he may seriously, sincerely not feel comfortable with a cat around. You could resolve every concrete objection and still not make him like the idea of a cat in the house he shares with you.

If you do manage to convince him to get a cat, be prepared for the possibility that something relatively small could piss him off and he may insist that the cat go. I presume you really would favour your husband over a cat, so have a backup plan in case things go pear-shaped.
posted by maudlin at 11:57 AM on November 8, 2007

Ask your kid if he would rather have a cat or a dad.

See what he says. Go with that.
posted by kpmcguire at 11:59 AM on November 8, 2007 [8 favorites]

Do any of your friends of have well-behaved cats? I think you need to be able to prove to him that not all cats are the demon spawn of his recollection. You need real life evidence of happy, well-adjusted, non-carpet-peeing, kitties that you can point to as proof. Have him visit those cats and their owners to reassure him. But yeah, don't break up your marriage over a cat. If he REALLY doesn't want a cat, then see what other pets you can compromise on.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 11:59 AM on November 8, 2007

If you get a shelter-kitten, or even a young cat, they are as trainable as dogs, I feel--there is the feeling that you can't "train" a cat, but you certainly can.

Having a stinky litterbox is usually the sign of an owner who isn't cleaning it out regularly enough. I live in an apartment, and have two litterboxes, one in a main area of the house. I clean it three times a week. If it's stinky, clean it up. (Having a child so into getting a pet is a great way to make him part of this job, by the way.)

You can get it used to you touching and manipulating its paws, so you can cut its nails (using an appropriate animal nail clipper.) Then, you can apply Softpaws. If you maintain them, you don't have to worry about. Buy a cat tree, scratch post or mat, and encourage them to use it. Our cats will still "scratch" a rug when they're excited or just waking up, but the softpaws prevents damage and they like to scratch more on the cat tree/IKEA stool for that purpose.

Buy lots of toys (laser pointer) so you can wear it out at night, so you'll all sleep better. Or, if you can, get two cats--especially if they're kittens, especially-er if they're littermates--and they'll wear one another out. Plus, double the hilarity.

Feed it dry food only, so it will not get the "wet food crazies" and annoy the crap out of you at certain times of day. Our cats are used to food being available at all times, and just "graze" most of the day. They're active, and healthy. Our oldest cat who was a stray is a bit of a beggar and an opportunist, but she does fine with the dry food.

I am a universal animal lover, but by god if I've never had such an all-around amazing companion as a cat. They'll comfort you, make you laugh, and just make everything better.
posted by atayah at 12:01 PM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

I don't know what to tell you other than that the two cats Mr Kmennie and I have have done nothing but bring us closer together.

We don't have pee on the rugs or scratches on the furniture. They are clean and easy to take care of and nice to pet.

I really wish I'd had a cat growing up. He should be able to set aside his anti-cattiness to indulge his son. Children should have pets if they want pets. Not 'to teach them responsibility yadda yadda' but to have somebody to skritch behind the ears, somebody who'll lick their nose thirty seconds before the alarm goes off... A friend with fur does wonders for emotional development.
posted by kmennie at 12:03 PM on November 8, 2007

I would adopt, neuter and fully vaccinate a shelter-rescued cat.

If your husband is already wary of getting a cat, do not go the shelter-rescue route. Rescued animals are more likely to have been abused or neglected at some point, and to have behavioral issues that will fulfill exactly what your husband is worried about.

(Years ago, I was the husband in your scenario. We got a rescue cat. It turned out to be terrified of men, scratched the furniture, peed on the carpet, and the litterbox stunk. We no longer have a cat and never will again.

Needless to say, I'm not too favorably inclined to your point of view on this question, and would gently suggest that you consider that your husband's point of view is potentially as valid as your own, here.)
posted by ook at 12:04 PM on November 8, 2007

Any chance you could get him exposed to one from a distance - say, a friend or family member who also has cats, you could start spending time around?

My fiance and I waited an extra year+ to move in together because I felt the same way as your husband did. Finally, I took the plunge, and eventually, the little furball grew on me.

I spent twenty minutes today with that same cat curled on my chest purring and napping. Took me over 6 months to get there though - and if your hubby isn't willing, moving a cat into the house is probably not your best bet (I chose to try and overcome it - he may not).

But encouraging him to spend more time around cats might help - at a friend's, or neighbor's. Once he gets more comfortable around them, he may start seeing the benefits to pet ownership rather than just the downsides to it.

Good luck!
posted by twiki at 12:07 PM on November 8, 2007

(And it's not like I'm an anti-cat person, specifically; I just felt our apartment at the time was too small for pets of any kind. If your husband is already anti-cat, you have an uphill battle at best here.)
posted by ook at 12:08 PM on November 8, 2007

Kittens are generally pretty good about turning out how you treat them. This is what I told my husband when I really, really, really could not live with out a cat anymore, and it's true, in my experience. Start out with a reasonably friendly, non-scarred cat from the shelter. Treat it as if it is part of your family. It will, in general, behave accordingly. Our two behave as if they believe we are all the same sort of "person." They sit with us, they want to be with us. Cats are only aloof and shitty if they have been treated badly or treated as if that is what you expect.

Scratching furniture can be cured - especially if your house has been pet free, if you had my babies they would not scratch anything at all on purpose. It's a matter of training, and providing an alternative to the couch and carpet for them to scratch. Litter boxes do not stink if they are properly taken care of.
posted by Medieval Maven at 12:09 PM on November 8, 2007

Some people just plain don’t like cats and nothing will change that. Except perhaps living with a cat.

If his only experience with a cat is The Cat From Hell then living with an oh-so-cute and really well behaved cat for a while might turn him around. The problem is you’re in a race. He needs to fall in love with the cat before the first time the cat pees or poops on something other than the litter box or pukes up his dinner, or coughs up a hairball, or scratches the crap out of the leather couch, or shreds his favorite necktie, or jumps on his balls at 5:00AM.

Cats do all these things from time to time. (with the exception of the ball jump, which they do daily) and I say this as a cat lover/owner. Cat lovers pretending otherwise sound like Mac users pretending they’ve never seen the Technicolor Pinwheel That Won’t Go Away.

If you’re gonna talk him into getting a cat you have to be honest with him and tell him that yes, your cat is occasionally gonna puke on something but the house isn’t going to smell forever as a result and you (and your son) will promise to clean up after it.

Within six months, probably six days, he’ll most likely be so in love with the cat that he’ll even help clean the litter box. Just give him a laser pointer and tell him to aim it about six feet up the wall. This is as entertaining as any video game. He’ll get it.

Also, if you’re looking to show how clean a cat can be you’re better off keeping him as an indoor cat. He’ll be healthier and cleaner that way and there’s less chance of feeding the coyotes.
posted by bondcliff at 12:13 PM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

(One more, then I'll shut up:) Is your husband resistant to the idea of a dog, too? That, or some other kind of pet, may be a better compromise than coercing him into getting a cat, if he's had bad experiences with them. And no litter-box to worry about.
posted by ook at 12:21 PM on November 8, 2007

I'll save the relationship advice, and assume that you're over-exaggerating about the divorce.
Go to a shelter. Have him hold a kitten. If that doesn't win him over, he doesn't have feelings.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 12:27 PM on November 8, 2007

Go to a shelter. Have him hold a kitten. If that doesn't win him over, he doesn't have feelings.

He already knows what kittens are like. According to the original post he has lived with a cat before. He probably just doesn't want to have one in his house.

And that's a perfectly legitimate thing to want. He has a right to live in a cat-free household.

The real issue here is how the OP should cope with her disappointment about her husband not wanting a cat. Not how to trick him into wanting it.
posted by kpmcguire at 12:39 PM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'd use the following stratagem:

1. Ask him to accompany you on a shelter visit. Don't let your son know you're going, because it would be extra disappointing if you did and then didn't end up getting a cat.

2. Go to the kitten room. Find a tortoiseshell kitten sleeping in a cage with a cute sleeping-kitten expression on her face. Point her out to your husband. While your husband's face is right in front of the cage, the kitten will wake up, yawn, and stretch her little paw through the bars and bat at his cheek. This move is scientifically proven to melt even the most ice-armored hearts.

3. Find a shelter volunteer and request a visit with the kitten. Sit your husband down in a chair and place the kitten on his lap. She will gaze up into his eyes, curl up into a little ball, begin to purr, and fall asleep. Congratulations, you have a new kitten.

That's how it would happen in my head, anyway.

But seriously, the reason I (half-seriously) suggest the above is that although your husband has several valid concerns about the liabilities of cat-owning, it sounds like his objection is actually based on emotion, which is not really amenable to reason. Thus, though you may counter his objections with equally valid solutions, it probably won't matter, because they're not the actual issue. I mean, I'm sure you don't want a stinky litterbox, a shredded couch, and a pee-stained carpet, but those things aren't as important to you and/or you're motivated to change them because you have an emotional investment in getting a cat. If he has a similar emotional investment, then those concerns won't seem as important to him, either.

Also, it's always a good rule of thumb to acknowledge to someone with whom you have a disagreement that you understand and respect their point of view, even if it stands in the way of you fulfilling your desires.
posted by granted at 12:44 PM on November 8, 2007

You want to get a kitten (I know, roll your eyes people) that was with the mom for long enough and who had a good mom. Meet the kitten and talk to the person who's cat it is to get a sense of which is the best kitten (I think cats that got taken too soon don't know how to interact well). And then make him hold the kitten with the kid around. You have yourself a cat.
posted by history is a weapon at 1:06 PM on November 8, 2007

I have to agree with everyone who says that bringing a cat into a house with a person who is anti-cat (for whatever reason) is just begging for resentment and problems.

I'm anti-dog, and would really be upset if I got bullied into having one in my house.
posted by Lucinda at 1:06 PM on November 8, 2007

I like cats, but I will never have one in the house, probably. My husband is in the real estate field and over and over and over again we see what having indoor cats and dogs do to properties. Not good.

Seriously, get a couple of guinea pigs instead.

Your husband has the right to a cat free home if he does not want a cat. If MY spouse brought home a cat or perish the thought, a dog, I would totally hit the roof.
posted by konolia at 1:17 PM on November 8, 2007

You survived kids, you'll survive a cat.
posted by idiotfactory at 1:21 PM on November 8, 2007

Having a cat can reduce blood pressure better than ACE inhibitors.

So the study is old, but it's still valid. A purring cat in your lap definitely reduces BP.
posted by buka at 1:22 PM on November 8, 2007

Let's see, I was your now-husband 15 years ago.

Wife's argument to me that cats, dogs, etc., present good learning opportunity and empathy skills development for children. My kids are the most important things in my life, so I went with it. That was 15 years ago. Never look back.

Since that time, the one cat idea has grown into hamsters, fish, lizards (wasn't really a good idea) and now dogs. So, presently in our little zoo, we have two dogs, and three cats, with only 1 kid left at home. Our kids have learned about responsibility, love, compassion, and death. They have learned that these are the things that bind each of us, and that critters respond without prejudice to us. They learned what separates animals from people, and this in turn makes them better people as well.

A lot of the difficult life topics aren't easy to bring up with kids. "Hi Timmy - guess what? We're gonna discuss death today!" lacks somewhat in the presentation. Unless kids are actively engaged, it becomes out of their circle of understanding.

The critters added a quality of life and brought a completion to the house that wasn't there initially. I would not go back to a critter-less home. I can't imagine anything more sterile and less loving.

You may have a nice house, but critters make a nice home.

Best of luck. For you and your kids sake.
posted by fox_terrier_guy at 1:31 PM on November 8, 2007 [4 favorites]

I'm just saying, and don't take this the wrong way, but if this is seriously going to be the issue that ends a marriage, I'm thinking there's a lot more issues at hand than felinus domesticus. I would, for the sake of your children and your sanity, recommend that you address those issues before adding a known conflict-causing entity to your home.

In other news, I certainly wouldn't be with someone who was anti-critter. But then, I'm a dick.
posted by TomMelee at 1:45 PM on November 8, 2007

Your local shelter may prohibit this for health-related reasons, or it may be inconsistent with your own desires. But in my experience, an "outdoor" cat is less likely to pee and poop outside its litter box (though it may well continue to come inside to do its business) and is far more likely to keep its claws under control via its outdoor activities.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 2:10 PM on November 8, 2007

My "Does Not Like Cats" father has amended his views to "I don't like cats except your mother'"

The cat was acquired in the first place because even he agreed that this well-behaved housecat cat deserved a better life than being barely tolerated and made to sleep outside. Was the cat in any mortal danger? Not really, but my mom fell in looove with her and thus convinced my dad to do the right thing.

Lessons learned: Principles can trump aversion. One does not have to agree to be a Cat Person in order to accept a specific animal.

In return, my mother brushes the cat every night, scoops the litterbox every day, and changes it frequently, to avoid any remaining negative associations about smells or shedding.

I don't think that shelters are a very good way to introduce a cat-averse person to wanting a pet. They smell like animal fear and a little like pee, they look worn and a little grimy from all of the little paws trooping in and out, and the animals are all clamoring for attention.

A friend with a box of kittens in their kitchen is a much more pleasant and low-stress way to be introduced to "maybe this kitten isn't so bad...awww."

You said your son wants "a pet." Perhaps you're pushing for the cat over other pets? If your son really wants a puppy, you might point out that the enormous advantage of a cat over a dog is that no dog-walker is needed. Perhaps formulate some similar arguments as to why a cat is easier than other pets.

(Bonus: do you have mice or crickets in your basement? You won't if you have a cat.)
posted by desuetude at 2:40 PM on November 8, 2007

I use Fresh Step kitty litter (the new one with carbon) and scoop it everyday, and it really doesn't smell at all. Pretty amazing really.
posted by vronsky at 3:02 PM on November 8, 2007

Look him in the eye and tell him it's really, really important to you.

Look around the house for a space that has vinyl floor, room for a litter box, and not in a major traffic area, where you can locate the litter box.

Find another space where you can easily put the cat food, water and scratching post. When I had cats, the scratching post with regular applications of catnip, was key to keeping them from ruining furniture. That and the squirter bottle.

Pets are nice, cats are pretty easy-care, he loves you and wants you to be happy, and it's really manageable.
posted by theora55 at 3:04 PM on November 8, 2007

i say go with the it-makes-me-and-the-child-happy route.

a well-treated, well-trained cat shouldn't claw the sofa (squirt it with water when it tries). besides, you can always trim its nails (easy enough to do, and with the proper clippers render the nails totally unsharp). a healthy cat won't pee or poop anywhere but the litter box.

see if you can get him to agree to a trial period (6 weeks or so). if it's a disaster, your new kitty will find a home.

and get a kitten--they are more trainable and too small to cause much damage, or stink too much.
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:07 PM on November 8, 2007

Or you could end up with a cat like mine, who will claw up the carpet and pee on the leather couch :P

(I have two, I adore them, and they are totally worth it. I wouldn't date anyone who couldn't handle them. But I am a) single, and b) childless. You have a different set of calculations to do. Cats rock. Do they rock THAT much?)
posted by restless_nomad at 3:34 PM on November 8, 2007

OK. I admit I'm biased here, as a) I'm a confirmed ailurophile and b) people who are excessively houseproud make me twitch. I, personally, wouldn't marry a man who didn't love cats OR was anal about the state of the house. A couch ought to be built to outlast cats, kids, and red wine.

However, you are married to a man who doesn't like cats because he had a bad experience with one in childhood. That's the kind of conditioning that is hard to overcome. I am in the camp of "let him get to know some friends' cats first." I wouldn't risk bringing a cat home hoping he'll change his mind. He might, but he might not, and you don't want any cat you get to become another shelter statistic. Start slow by introducing him to other people's nice cats. I had a great cat, a big neutered male tabby, who was a great ambassador for catdom and converted several non-cat people because he was so friendly, sweet, and loving. Too bad he's dead, or I'd suggest your hubby meet him. But you need to introduce your husband to a cat like this.

If your husband decides that some cats are OK after all, you want to get a well-mannered, already-neutered, adult cat. Kittens, even the sweetest ones, are little balls of energy who haven't learned their manners yet, and are bound to make messes, claw the furniture, and so on because they don't know better. Provide this adult cat with a good-quality kitty condo for sleeping and scratching (Drs Foster & Smith sell great ones), and a litterbox filled with clumping litter that you scoop every day. This cuts way, way back on the stink-n-scratch factor. But I would stress that NO cat is perfect, and if your husband is expecting a perfectly pristine house and no clawed furniture or litterbox smell ever, that's unrealistic. You can't be a Felix Unger type and live happily with pets, and that's that.

However, if your husband won't come around, you should give up on having a cat. I don't think a dog would be any cleaner or less prone to destroying things than a cat - no, dogs don't use litterboxes, but they DO shed, bark, dig, and chew. And there's "doggy odor."

Finally, Ikkyu2 and TomMelee have raised a good point: If this is an issue that is really and truly coming between you, maybe there are other, deeper issues in your marriage that you want to explore. Is it all about cat vs. no cat, or are there compatibility issues? Is he a control freak and that is making you frustrated and angry? Sometimes an issue is ostensibly all about something superficial like the cat issue, but there are deeper things lurking underneath that need resolution.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 4:00 PM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

I agree with Clyde Minestra - my indoor/outdoor cat doesn't use his litterbox at all anymore. He gets to pretend to be a tiger; I have fewer chores. We're both happy.
posted by granted at 4:03 PM on November 8, 2007

Infect him with Toxoplasma? (Only half serious - I heard a friend posit that more research might reveal that the disease might cause cat-favoring behavior in humans.)
posted by Orb2069 at 4:18 PM on November 8, 2007

I basically insisted that I was going to get a cat and that was the end of it. My husband had the same issues that yours does (he's hated cats ever since his sisters cat bothered him and he yelled at it and it ran onto the road and got run over - MAJOR guilt issues).

However, I clean the tray regularly (after getting the most titanic tray possible), bought a huge cat gym with many scratch-posts and life is sweet (except for two distressed peeing incidents, but we have wooden floors).

Many a night during winter the Husband would put the heater on early beause "the cat was getting cold" and the two of them would snuggle up on the couch together - him with laptop, feet towards the fire, and cat on his chest staring at him dreamily and purring.

However, in short, what Rosie M Banks has said. Best wishes on sorting this out - I really feel for you.
posted by ninazer0 at 4:24 PM on November 8, 2007

Why would anyone make a blanket judgment about any entire species, including humans, based on ONE bad experience? That seems closed-minded and irrational.
posted by FlyByDay at 4:55 PM on November 8, 2007

As some others mentioned, do you live in a kind of place where a cat could be indoor-outdoor (i.e. not by a major highway, vicious predators, grumpy neighbors...)? That would probably be the best compromise for your husband. Your house won't get smelly, kitty can pee outdoors, and scratch trees and stuff that's not your furniture.

Another thought, can you adopt a kitten/cat from someone you know who's trying to get rid of one? I'm not sure how that would change the situation, but I think that's the only reason we had cats when I was growing up. My dad always hated cats (except for the cool ones), but that didn't stop my mom from adopting strays and cats friends couldn't keep.
posted by gueneverey at 5:03 PM on November 8, 2007

my father hated cats growing up. HATED.

But he loved me, and I loved cats, so we got a cat. He fell in love with the cat. Some people can change their minds about animals.

P.S. He did not cry when his father died, but he cried when the cat died. That is how much he loved the cat.
posted by chelseagirl at 5:10 PM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

I do think it's strange that you married a man who didn't like cats from the get-go, and now all of a sudden, because your son wants one, it's your top priority. Seriously - one of the first things I looked for in a guy was whether he liked animals because it's a very important issue to me.

Don't adopt a cat if your husband isn't willing to compromise. Seriously. You'll probably wind up having to give the cat back to the shelter which is just extra cruel to the cat and will traumatize your son.

Maybe instead of insisting on *having* a cat, you can volunteer at a cat sanctuary or animal shelter. You could even get your son involved and make it a family thing. You'll have interaction with dozens of adorable cats and be doing a good thing in your community.

(I would work at a no-kill shelter, though, especially if you plan to get your son involved.)
posted by tastybrains at 6:18 PM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

My dad always pretended to hate the cat. The day she succumbed to kidney failure he wept like a baby.
If you can find a ragdoll kitty anywhere, they're extra snugglesome. My sister's had one from kittenhood, and it could charm the paint off the wall.
posted by Sara Anne at 6:47 PM on November 8, 2007

People need multi-species interplay to maintain perspective and keep them from going nuts. That’s the way we are made and we’ve been doing it that way for milenia.
posted by Huplescat at 7:07 PM on November 8, 2007

Also, show him this. Squee!
posted by Sara Anne at 7:56 PM on November 8, 2007

Something no-one's brought up yet: he might actually be allergic to cats. Definitely a reason to visit a shelter first; if he has any allergic tendencies at all, lots of cats will trigger them. Not necessarily a dealbreaker of course; one cat shouldn't be an issue as long as it doesn't sleep on your bed, or come into your husband's private room.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 8:02 PM on November 8, 2007

Could there -be- a more perfect place to pose this question than AskMe?

C'mon. All arguments for cats aside, why on earth would you even joke about a not-even-yet-acquired cat being more important to you than your marriage? And if it really is, why are you asking this question, rather than filing for divorce?
posted by po at 8:35 PM on November 8, 2007

I don't like cats, and for extra synchronicity points, I think my dislike of cats is also traced back to the evil cat my parents had to give away when I was a toddler. All these people going 'well, of course he'll wuv the cutie wootie putty tat once it arrives!' are wrong. As far as I'm concerned cats can die out and my only worry will be the empty ecological niche. But because cat people are so baffled by the concept of 'I just don't like them', I would couch my objections as 'they ruin the furniture and their food smells and they're too much effort to look after'.
posted by jacalata at 9:20 PM on November 8, 2007

We don't use kitty litter. We use a cat door. Our cat occasionally throws up, meaning once every two or three months but otherwise is a perfectly presentable roommate.
If you're worried about cats marking their territory, get a female. Cats don't particularly want to use a litter box. Their instincts tell them to be outside. If you let them roam they will come home to the safe territory and be a lot healthier and happier as a result.
I wouldn't use a litter box if I could avoid it. They smell and are a pain to clean up.
posted by diode at 9:31 PM on November 8, 2007

"His specific worries are that a cat will smell up the house with a litter box, pee on our carpet and tear up our leather couch. "

Even a well behaved cat will do all those things and more.

I like cats, there's a semi-conscious one next to me right now. However, even though it isn't my cat, I still get to sleep in a bed covered in its hair, I get to clean up it's vomit, I get to step on random bits of litter in bare feet, I have little holes in most of my shirts from its claws, and on occasion it decides that 5am is the perfect time to wake me up to feed it.

If I didn't like cats...
posted by 517 at 10:52 PM on November 8, 2007

If your husband can watch this (YouTube warning) and still doesn't want a cat, I'm afraid he can't be converted.

Consider volunteering at a shelter for your cat fix?
posted by Space Kitty at 11:55 PM on November 8, 2007

Can you foster cats until you find one that your hubby agrees is acceptable? Maybe with an agreement going in about how long / how many attempts you'll make?

Also, consider buying one of those self-cleaning litter boxes (not all cats like them).
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:05 AM on November 9, 2007

Pursuing this course means treating your son and especially your husband poorly by pitting them against each other to satisfy your own personal desires.
posted by NortonDC at 8:17 AM on November 9, 2007

Get a female, get her fixed as soon as she is old enough, clean her litterbox out every day or two, and you will not have any litterbox issues.

The couch. This is slightly more complicated. smooth leather isn't what cats usually pick to scratch, BUT they often puncture things like that when they hop up on them and you end up with hundreds of neat little puncture marks over time.

I started my cat on nail trimmings when she was a baby, and I keep them very short and very blunt. I trim once a week, and the points aren't long enough to puncture anything. If you ever slack on this, the vein in the nail will grow out longer, thus effectively lengthening the part you can't cut, and making it more likely you'll end up with fabric snagged somewhere or something. If you keep on top of it you'll never have any problems, even if you get a scratcher of a cat.

Also, buy approved scratching pads. Buy at least one that lays flat and one that is vertical, because some cats are horizontal scratchers by preference and some are vertical. If you trim, you won't "need" the scratchers, but it's good to train the cat anyway and it makes them happy. And hey, it's cheap happiness.

Arguments for cats: it teaches kids responsibility and compassion. Seriously, everyone I ever dated who didn't own a pet growing up tended to be a little lacking in some way. It doesn't HAVE to be like that, but it often is.

People who have pets live longer, happier, and healthier. You can google for the studies on that (I'm in just a bit too much of a hurry this morning).

Pets, like children, can bring people closer together. However, it can also drive them apart. If your husband ends up hating the cat (for reasons legitimate or not) it can cause problems. It all depends. I've had it go both ways.

Good luck. I hope you get the cat and that things go well. Wishing you all the best.
posted by tejolote at 10:44 AM on November 9, 2007

Thanks to all who posted answers to this question for me. We have both put the issue aside for the last few days to get some distance and perspective, as we were both heated on the subject.

As far as some of the issues that came up: my husband had a dog when I met him, and there was never any indication he WASN'T a pet person; when my own pet cat died, he was very supportive and understanding.

It wasn't until after we were married that we BOTH decided to buy a cat which became the Cat From Hell. When I became pregnant, CFH and the (albeit slight) toxoplasmosis risk for preggers woman decided us; we adopted our cat to a friend with many, many cats, which seemed to settle CFH down a little. Around this time, my spouse's best friend also bought a cat that was, frankly, dangerous to be around. Very mean-tempered, scratched and bit, the whole deal.

Fast-forward to today. My son has desperately wanted a pet for years. He has never wavered from his childhood conviction to become a veterinarian one day, and now he is approaching high school, we have looked into volunteering at pet shelters, etc., as some mentioned here. I had some pretty serious health problems for the last few years and it simply wasn't possible for me to take on the responsibility of pet-rearing in addition to the kids. It was always a "some day" in my head, though.

So I was floored when my boys and I encountered a cat that just stole our hearts and, upon mentioning to my husband that we were thinking of adopting it, he basically gave a "the cat or me" type of answer. This was over a year ago, and as he obviously felt so strongly I didn't push it.

Of *course* I don't want a divorce over this issue! But, honestly, it really has rankled me since then. His reaction seemed so extreme!

So, yeah, this is an issue that really needed to be addressed. And no, we still haven't come to an agreement.
posted by misha at 11:09 AM on November 12, 2007

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