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My inability to handle pet ownership is destroying my mental state and our marriage (30M/30F).

RealisticSandwich ci racconta la sua esperienza:

Hi. Throwaway account for privacy.

My wife and I have been married for 2 years, together for many before then. She has always wanted us to get a cat as she loves them and always had them growing up. I am not much of an animal person. We live in a 1 bedroom apartment, and I had always maintained that I'd be OK with an animal once we owned a house (after I finished my post-doc and had a real job), but after years of subtle and not-so-subtle hints I finally gave in and we got one while still living in an apartment. This was 8 months ago.

We have an objectively great cat by any metric – never goes outside the box, loves people, etc etc. My wife is completely enamoured. But even so, I am at my wits end with this. Everything we own is clawed, I smell cat shit *constantly*, to the point where I'm pretty sure i either have the world's most sensitive nose or i'm actually having a breakdown. We can't even have our friends over to our home because they're allergic. I'm basically at the conclusion that I just straight up hate owning a cat.

I legitimately feel like my mental health is being destroyed by this cat, embarrassing as this is. I am just so *angryall the time. I hate the person that I've turned into. I feel like there's rage bubbling beneath the surface all the time and I keep snapping at my wife. It's really hurting our marriage. We don't have sex anymore. We don't talk anymore. All we do is work all day and fight about this cat all night.

I don't know what to do. I'm honestly feeling like our marriage is going to end because I can't get my shit together and learn to live with a god damn cat.

TL;DR – Wife loves our cat. I can't cope with pet ownership and am driving her away as a result.

For the cat pee/poop smell, there’s a number of things you can do: clean the box more often (daily if needed), get a hooded box with a door to help keep the smells inside, purchase cat little deodorizer (sold with cat stuff in any store) helps A TON, try to change the cat’s diet, change the type of litter, try an air purifier or one of those electronic scent distributors near the box.

For the scratching, the cat could be bored and may need more stimuli, though scratching is normal. You may need to just redirect it. Cat trees, scratching posts, scratch boxes, toys, etc. You could also put sticky tape or sandpaper temporarily on the things the cat is scratching to deter the behavior, or get nail caps.

My husband and I have two cats in a two bedroom apartment, and friends who are allergic and still come over. I just make sure to vacuum/clean really well, wash blankets and such often, and have allergy meds on hand (or we just go hangout somewhere else). And no one can ever smell their boxes.

The things you mention that are frustrating you are mostly easy fixes. Are you sure that’s what you are actually upset about? It sounds like you are resentful to the fact that she got a cat and that’s causing the anger and the fights, but the cat is a living being and your wife is really happy, so just remember that when you talk to her.

Think about it before you go to your wife, and talk to her rationally with reasons, not anger. Fighting won’t solve anything, and if you go to her angry it will only lead to both of you feeling hurt and unheard. Is it the lack of space? Jealousy? Is she not taking proper care of the cat (like steps noted above) to minimize your discomfort? Do you feel unheard, or upset that this was outside of your preferred timeline? Are you stressed about work and everything else that’s happening, and it’s manifesting in this way? If you’re angry or resentful or overstressed, everything that goes wrong with the cat could be a “straw that broke the camels back” situation. Maybe it’s not the act of having a cat – maybe it’s other factors that are compiling and exploding.

Or, maybe it is the cat. Maybe you’re just not a cat person. In that case you need to talk to her about it calmly and with understanding. I would be absolutely heartbroken if I had to rehome my cats, and getting over that hurt towards the other person would take a long time. They’re my family, just as my husband is. But you’re feelings are valid as well.

I recommend pinpointing exactly what it is that’s upsetting you. Fix the things you can fix (with steps like those noted above), and try to calmly talk things out with your wife regarding the things you can’t.

If your shit is getting clawed you need more cat scratchers so the cat leaves your stuff alone. If you smell shit constantly, litter box needs to be cleaned more often. If your friends are allergic, allergy pills or Flonase exist.

It sounds like the issue is more the small space than owning a cat and that you feel like you got an animal before you were ready?

There’s a couple things you can do about the smell. Try different litter, and there’s ventilation to send the smell outdoors instead of lingering.

Having a pet is also about setting boundaries with such pet, learning about having a pet, and adapting your house for them. So Google “how to stop cat scratching everything”, “how to get rid of litter box smell in home”, “how to [insert your problem here]”. You know how to research (doing a Post-doc) so apply your research skills for solving your problems. “How to have guests with pet allergies”… Etc

Claw caps for the claws. Pet groomers will be able to do it for you. The litter problem is either because you aren’t cleaning it enough or is this maybe a litter that isn’t enclosed? If it is enclosed, try a different litter and also put in some kind of odor absorber. If the smell is crazy bad your cat might have parasites.