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Q. My boyfriend and I have been together long distance for 2.5 years, and he has been staying with me temporarily for a little over a month. I have two cats I got before I met him, and while he LOVES one of them, he hates the other. Previously, he had told me to get rid of this cat or we could not move in together. Now he says he can deal with him. However, he continuously bothers this cat with water spray and loud noises, and one morning he locked the cat in the bathroom for a timeout. When I said I was going to let the cat out, my boyfriend threatened to leave.


This isn’t the first time he’s threatened “leaving” and I am sick of him making me choose. I asked what the cat did, and he said he growled at him, which was disrespectful. Apart from this, I really enjoy his company and we get along very well. His behavior toward this one cat troubles me. I am not sure how to talk to him about it. I don’t want to give an ultimatum (as he frequently does).

– Growling

A. I assume you Googled, found the letter about a cat we published on Boston.com in January, and decided we’re the experts on pet-related relationship drama. We can try to be today.

My opinion — and I say this as someone who is allergic to most animals — is that you shouldn’t pursue someone unless you can accept their pets. This man wants you — with edits. That doesn’t work.

He’s also abusive to your cat, which is troubling! It sounds like he’s trying to persuade you to get rid of the cat by making you fear for the cat’s safety, and that’s upsetting, to be honest.


If you’re very in love with this man and want to try to figure out some way to make this work, I suggest couples counseling. Discuss your concerns about this behavior, and learn how to compromise without ultimatums and threats.

But if all you can say about this man after more than two years together is that he’s pleasant company, you should think about whether he’s the partner you want for the future. Your cat won’t be the last loved one to make your boyfriend uncomfortable and growl at him. You need someone who knows how to respond with empathy and respect.

Your gut is telling you this is a red flag. Don’t ignore it.



No mature person who really cares about you would make a big deal about this, let alone behave in the way he is behaving toward the cat and you. He’s abusive. PHATALISTIC

He gets along with one cat but not the other, so one could deduce he is projecting all of his issues with the relationship onto the “bad” cat because it is safer than talking about his feelings. The cat is an out, so you break up with him and he can declare, “She dumped me over a stupid cat.” So be it. You don’t want someone who represses his feelings and projects them on others, even a cat, in your life. HEYITHINK

If he’s such a delight with a cat, can you imagine him with kids? BIFFYDITZMEYER


Kick your boyfriend to the curb. When he asks why, tell him the cat said he was disrespectful. JIM-IN-LITTLETON

Catch Season 4 of Meredith Goldstein’s Love Letters podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen.