DEAR ABBY: My mother-in-law, “Irma,” is a peach — she’s the sweetest person in the world. She will do anything for anyone to lend a helping hand. Two weeks ago, she fell and broke her femur, which resulted in a significant hospital stay and needed rehabilitation. My wife and I have been taking care of her house and managing all her other daily tasks while she recovers, but one of these has become an issue.
Irma has an old, needy, unfriendly cat (“Mehitabelle”) we have taken into our home during all of this. She hisses and growls at me constantly and won’t allow me to give her medication, which is required twice daily. Irma loves her kitty and asks about her often.
We have two cats of our own, so we created a home for Mehitabelle in an upstairs bedroom in an effort to keep all the cats in the house amicable. (She doesn’t get along with one of ours.) My wife and I have managed this so far, but things have grown dramatically worse.
In addition to her poor behavior, Mehitabelle refuses to use her litter box. We have set pads around the litter box and throughout the room, but it’s still a terrible mess to clean up every day and takes more than an hour. That cat has single-handedly ruined this section of our house by urinating all over the floors and furniture.
We have a beautiful home we’ve worked hard on, and it really hurts to see the animal ruin things. She has to go, as I see it, but Mom loves her cat. What do we do? — “FELINE” BAD IN MISSOURI
DEAR “FELINE” BAD: Mehitabelle doesn’t appear to like living with you any more than you like having her as a houseguest. If your mother-in-law’s home is close enough to yours that you could go there once a day, you might all be happier if the kitty was returned to her own territory rather than staying at your place. If you or your wife could arrange to give Mehitabelle her meds once a day and find someone else willing to see that she gets her second dose, the situation might be workable until your mother-in-law is released. Please consider it. It may save your sanity.
DEAR ABBY: I live with my best friend and his younger son. We get along well, but my friend’s older son is a meth and heroin addict. He has stolen from all of us, but his father refuses to ban him from the house, saying he refuses to give up on his boy. This is tearing their family apart, and I’m at my wits’ end emotionally. Please advise. — LOSING MY MIND IN OHIO
DEAR LOSING: I am sorry, but if you value the possessions you have worked hard to acquire, you will have to move out in order to protect them. Tell your friend you don’t expect him to choose you over his drug-addicted son. Make clear that he and his younger son are welcome to visit you anytime, but you cannot ignore that his older boy is so caught up in his addiction that he can’t be trusted. Then follow through.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at http://www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.