Have you succeeded in converting an SO into a pet lover?

So I’m currently living with my boyfriend, and while it’s great, I still don’t feel like the place is “ours” because it was originally his place and I moved in a few months ago, even though he insists it belongs to both of us now. Maybe it’ll just take a while.

Anyway, I have a cat who is currently staying with my parents. She’s been staying with them for almost a year now and my parents are strongly pressuring me to take her away with me. I finally worked up the nerve to ask my boyfriend for a month trial period with the cat (he’s not a huge fan of cats) and he agreed, but in a somewhat aloof and grudging way that made me feel really, really guilty about the whole thing. So then I thought, well, maybe I’m being selfish in asking him to accept a cat into a place that until recently was his own, so I told him that I’d just try to find a good home for her instead. It kills me to think about giving her away but if I have to choose between my cat and my boyfriend there’s not much of a contest. But when he saw how upset I was about the whole thing he insisted that I should bring her over and we’d try it out for a month.

It’s not that he hates cats. And my cat is very gentle and sweet, and has managed to convert more than one of my friends. But despite his insistence that he’s willing to try because it’s imporant to me, I’m wondering if it’d be easier if I just gave her away to a good home from the beginning. I love my cat but I don’t want her to become a source of possible conflict between us, and I’m wondering how realistic it is to expect my boyfriend to warm up to her within a month.

So, has anyone ever actually succeeded in this?

Kind of - JustThinkin was a cat person, I’m very much dog-oriented. She had two cats, I had a large, rambunctious dog when we met.

After 20 years, we kind of each have one cat and one dog. And we’d never admit in public that we both love all four of them.

I’m not sure how it goes with someone who isn’t an animal person at all… but please don’t rehome the cat without trying first - I have a feeling that neither of you would forget that the issue was a possible wedge.

I’m not sure how to put it - he could end up feeling guilty that he made you choose, or you could resent him making you get rid of the cat… if he is at all willing to try, you should give it a go.

…he agreed, but in a somewhat aloof and grudging way that made me feel really, really guilty about the whole thing.

If yours is anything like my experience, this is just the beginning.

My head just exploded with the Fail I see in the OP.

Personally- as the owner of 7 dogs, 2 cats- I wouldn’t have offered the month trial in the first place. Unless your boyfriend is highly allergic or the cat hates him- I would consider any pets you had at the time you started dating as “part of the package”. Although my partner does grumble about the cats (and picks them up constantly), he would never think of guilting me into getting rid of them!

To be fair, it isn’t clear whether the guilt felt by the o.p. is some kind of response to passive/aggressive behavior by the fellow in question or entirely self-imposed.

I have a friend who didn’t grow up around animals and therefore tolerates the pets (cats) of a close mutual friend with barely restrained reluctance. It’s not that she doesn’t want to like them, but they just aren’t her thing, especially when they suddenly accost her. That being said, she recently acquired a dog via some amount of coercion, and while we both anticipated that one or the other of us would become the custodian in due course, she has actually turned out to be a responsible and devoted pet owner, to the point that she feels unnecessarily indebted when she asks one of us to take care of him for an evening.

So while I’d agree that the pets are part of the package and the o.p. shouldn’t consider re-homing the creature in question, it does take some people time to adapt to having pets if this isn’t in their upbringing.


I don’t think he’s trying to make me feel guilty on purpose - he was clear that he wasn’t thrilled by the idea, but when he saw that I was upset he also made it clear that he was willing to give the whole thing a try. I’m just wondering if it’s worth it. I mean, I love my cat but my relationship is also very important to me, and I do have a cousin who is a responsible girl and loves cats as well, and is more than willing to take my cat if things don’t work out.

I think it’s probably tied up with the fact that I still don’t feel like our place is actually “our” place. But that’s entirely my hangup, and not because anything my boyfriend has done or said.

Oh well. I’m going to give it a try anyway, but I was just wondering if anyone had any success stories to give me hope. :slight_smile:

Oh- I completely agree- I understand it takes time to adapt. I’m just saying that there’s those first few dates where (I hope) the OP mentioned she had a cat, and it should either be a deal breaker then or not. Or the OP is very insecure and reading into a lack of enthusiasm for the cat as a guilt trip. My own partner says at least twice a month that he wishes I hadn’t replaced my original two cats (who have died since we moved into together) but he still cares for them and accepts the new kitties as part of who I am, just like I accept his horrible, mean blue heeler that drinks his own pee (not making it up :wink: )!

Of course it’d be easier. But it would be better if you got him as far as tolerating a cat without much effort. And some people who grow up without pets simply need some exposure to find out how much fun they can be. He’s offered you the month- take it! Be diligent in cleaning out the litterbox and the like so he doesn’t get the wrong idea about what having a cat is about, and hope for the best.

I’m an SO who wasn’t converted into a pet lover. I’d never had a pet growing up, and I wasn’t too thrilled about the prospect. My wife basically forced me to accept getting a cat. Do I resent it? Yes, but mainly because I have ended up taking care of him 24/7. It doesn’t strain our relationship, but it bothers me when I think about it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the cat, but I’d prefer not having a pet. I don’t know if I could give him away unless I was really sure he’d have a good home. However, we’ve both accepted that we won’t replace the cat when he moves on.

This could go both ways-- he could resent you for bringing the cat into your lives, or you could end up resenting him for having to give away your cat.

I disagree with those who say that your cat is “part of the package.” How come being petless isn’t part of his package? You both need to compromise and a month-long trial is a good compromise, as long as both of you are open-minded about the end of the trial.

How old is the cat? If he’s getting up there in age, another compromise could be taking this cat for the rest of its life, but not any replacements.

It’s a cat not a disease. Unless your cat is just some sort of wild clawing hellbeast that sprays everywhere or it poops in people’s shoes or he’s allergic I don’t see what his objection could really be.

“Oh god i have to see it sometimes it’s terrible!”

“It purred on me!”

It’s not like he has to be best friends with the thing, if he doesn’t like to pet it he can just set it down on the ground when it comes to him, let it alone and maybe run a lint roller across his shirt now and then, it’s not like you’re asking for an outrageous favor here. As long as you are the one taking care of it it really should have minimal impact on his life.

Urk? How is an absence of some feature “part of the package”? If the boyfriend has an explicit objection to having pets that is one thing, but when you elect to have an intimate relationship with someone, you accept all that comes with it in some form, including annoying habits, dietary restrictions, movie-watching choices, and children and pets. It is up to the o.p. to decide whether she would rather dispense with the pet to keep the boyfriend (if it comes to that) but given that this shouldn’t be a dichotomy (unless the boyfriend has allergies or the cat is a vicious and destructive example of the species) it seems like a rather unfair choice to be forced upon her.


From the OP’s description, it sounds like the boyfriend doesn’t want a cat. Otherwise he wouldn’t have acted “aloof” and “grudging.” Clearly, he has some objection, but we don’t know what it is. According to most people on this thread, it sounds like the only objection they would accept is allergies. Obviously, I don’t think “no pets” should automatically win in the relationship, but neither do I think that it’s fair to tell him to like it or lump it.

Obviously, I’m bringing to this the perspective of someone who didn’t want a cat and now has one. I should have remembered the first rule of SDMB: never diss cats!

He doesn’t have a specific objection; he just thinks it’d be annoying to have a cat around in our relatively small apartment. I felt a lot of guilt because I was expecting him to be indifferent about it at worst, and instead he was clearly unhappy at the prospect.

On the other hand, my cat has managed to charm my friend into buying a cat of her own, when before she was adamantly a dog person (like my boyfriend) so maybe things will work out in the end.

If that’s his objection, I think the month-long trial could be ideal to convert him. If the cat has no impact on his day-to-day life, then he will be hard-pressed to complain.

I see that you mention he is a dog person. If he is planning on bringing a dog into the relationship in the future, then you really shouldn’t have to give up your cat now. I think that would really be unfair. I think you need to sit down and have a pet summit with him. Remember cats live for 16 years, relationships often less than that.

(No, I’m not reversing my earlier advice, but the fact that he’s a dog-lover changes a lot for me. Dogs are much more intrusive than cats.)

Oh yes, Mr. Del didn’t like cats and insisted he didn’t want a cat. Then, an abandoned kitten showed up, and the agreement was that we would keep it only until we could find a home for it. 48 hours later, he felt strongly that we couldn’t give the cat to just anyone, it would need to be a superior kind of person. Another few days, no one on earth could possibly meet his high standards for cat care, and the cat was his new best friend.

But I think this is somewhat rare. He’s still not wild about other people’s cats.

I like the idea of the one-month trial, but I think the more you try to pressure him to become a cat person, the more resistant he’ll be. So try and show him how little impact having a cat will have in his life during the month. Don’t be constantly saying, ‘Isn’t she lovely? Don’t you think she’s cute?’ Take full responsibility for the care and feeding of the cat (after all, it’s your animal) and see how it goes.

Good luck!

Mr. Athena was so-so about animals when we were first dating. Not totally opposed to them - he’d had dogs previously - but he was neutral about my cats, whereas I was a full blown kitty and puppy lover. He was open to getting a dog, and was OK with our first dog (who unfortunately met an untimely demise.)

Now we have pugs and he’s out of control. He spoils them rotten, is horribly overprotective, and generally expresses every single bit of parental instinct he has on the pugs. I love the critters, but I am nothing compared to him.

So yeah, people change. Ten years ago, if you would have ever told me my Harley-riding weight-lifting big manly boyfriend would spend his days talking baby talk to a squooshy-nosed dog, I’d’ve said you were nuts. But that’s what he does.

My wife was much the same; had never had a cat, didn’t want a cat, claimed openly to despise cats (I believe “…cockroaches with fur and claws” was her term of choice in describing felines).

When our little boy expressed interest in getting a kitten, the missus finally gave in after dozens of tantrums and rivers of tears. We found a sweet little Siamese mix at an animal shelter and brought him home. Mrs. Jettboy’s rule was that the awful beast, now known as “Mouse”, had to live outside on our screened-in porch.

At first she wouldn’t let the cat near her; after a few weeks, she’s let it rub up against her legs, weeks later she would actually reach down and pet it. One morning, I caught a glimpse of my lovely bride sitting outside on the screen porch having a cup of coffee with the aforementioned beast sitting in her lap. When the harsh Florida winter started, she expressed fear that the cat might freeze in the arctic-like 65° chill, so she —out of the goodness of her heart— allowed the awful critter to come in the house…but only at night (for about the first 3 nights). Catching glimpses of her watching TV on the couch idly petting the cat snoozing next to her got to be more and more frequent.

“C’mon, darlin’,” I finally told her, “you can’t sit there and tell me you don’t love that damn cat.”

"OK, " she said, “I DO love him; but I still hate all other cats.”

Last month she saw a hand-made sign that said “Free Kittens!” on her way to work. Out of curiosity she stopped. She fell in love with this one scrawny female tuxedo cat who now sleeps at her feet every night and follows her around the house like a puppy. Still claims to hate cats, though.

My husband is highly allergic to dogs. I’m a dog lover. He married me anyway. We’ve had three dogs in our 20 year marriage. The first was my idea when I found a stray near my work. We ended up giving him to my brother when we moved to a condo that wouldn’t allow pets. The subsequent two were his idea; in fact, they were surprise gifts for my 25th and 30th birthdays. At the time he bought them, I really didn’t want another dog because I was kid of overwhelmed with two young children. But beagle puppies have a way of worming their way right into your heart and next thing you know he was an integral part of the family. My husband cried harder than he’s ever cried when he took Copper the beagle to the vet to be put down following a short but horrible battle with cancer.

So, yes, it’s possible that pets will win the hearts of former naysayers. It happened to us.

That does nothing to address the issues in your relationship; the primary one being that you don’t feel like you have an equal voice in your own home. That has nothing to do with your cat. Never allow yourself to feel subservient in a relationship; it’s not healthy.

IMO, pets brought into the home after you move in are negotiable. Prior existing pets are not. That just seems fair.