Kitty care rubs ex wrong way
Q: My ex and I divorced three years ago, and even though we have no children we have remained cordial. We had a cat we both loved very much, and honestly, I think we have stayed in contact because of the cat. Recently my ex was called out of town...
Q: My ex and I divorced three years ago, and even though we have no children we have remained cordial. We had a cat we both loved very much, and honestly, I think we have stayed in contact because of the cat. Recently my ex was called out of town and asked if I would watch the cat at my house for the week she would be gone. To make a long story short, the cat had four kittens at my house and now my ex will not take the cat back. I told her that was not good ex-etiquette. She said the cat was mine in the first place. She has tried to give it to me before. What do I do?
A: Seems like your ex had ulterior motives for leaving for that week, don't you think? And, you're right, her actions broke many of the rules of good ex-etiquette, starting with rule No. 8, "Be honest and straightforward." It sounds as if she has been harboring some resentment about having the cat after you broke up, however, especially if she's tried to give it to you before and you wouldn't take it. Then the cat got pregnant and that just added insult to injury.
You have to ask yourself if you've contributed to this mess at all. Is the cat really yours and, if so, are you taking advantage of your ex by refusing to take the cat? Was she forced to get creative so you would take responsibility for your pet once and for all?
As we have said before, ex-etiquette is a code for good behavior when dealing with an ex. The essence of good ex-etiquette is to treat others as you would like to be treated -- yes, even if it's your ex. If you broke up, then skated out leaving the cat -- and you really love this cat as you have said -- be grateful she hung on to it as long as she did and it didn't meet an unfortunate demise.
Now, if this is all untrue -- if the cat was equally shared and her saying it was your cat is just a cop-out -- then you have to ask yourself: How is your relationship with this ex really serving any purpose? If what was keeping you in contact was the cat, and now you have the cat, it may be time to move on. That may have been her motive behind the return of the cat, anyway.
From an ex-etiquette standpoint, there's no formal rule that addresses the custody of pets after a breakup, but it goes without saying that their care falls under the heading of kindness and cooperation. At this point, however, there's not much you can do short of waiting about six weeks and then start calling friends and relatives to see how they feel about kittens. Meow.
JANN BLACKSTONE-FORD and SHARYL JUPE are co-founders of Bonus Families ( www.bonus families.com) and authors of "Ex-Etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After a Divorce or Separation." Contact them at ee@bonus families.com.