By Catherine Holm
My partner ("C") and I didn't discuss whether he'd be compatible with my cats before we started living together. No, I've never been that organized. Instead, I got lucky. However, as time went on, there were things I noticed about C that verified that I was a really lucky person.
Looking back and considering those things, I bring you this relationship advice. Here's how I knew that C was quite cat-compatible.
He didn't faint at the sight of poop
Most of us who share a home with cats are more than used to litter boxes and litter box cleaning. Yet I have come across a few people who get seriously creeped out at the sight or thought of a litter box anywhere near them (even if it is clean). These people would have a hard time having cats.
Fortunately, C does fine with the litter boxes. He even cleans them when I travel. It's not his favorite job, but he appreciates the results. (So do the cats.)
He likes to travel a little less than I do
At first, I thought this was a bummer, and I once wished that our travel-meters were more aligned. But I soon came to see it as a benefit. If I have to travel for work or for training, C is fine with staying home and taking care of the house and watching the cats. The rural area where I live does not have easy access to pet sitters for hire. We rely on friends, neighbors, and trading favors if we both have to be gone. But really, I've found that the cats prefer it greatly if at least one of their humans is home. (If we're both home, that's the best scenario and the cats seem the most happy.)
He's comfortable with the medical stuff
C is a biologist, so he's very comfortable with and interested in the workings of the body. When we take a cat to the veterinarian together, having C next to me is reassuring, because I know that he retains what the vet is saying and possibly understands it in a deeper way than I do.
C did well in chemistry (which I hated and never understood, even though I tried and tried), so an understanding of certain cat medications and processes we've had to deal with comes more easily to him. And, C was less squeamish about giving subcutaneous fluids to a cat, which almost made me faint the first time I had to do it. (It quickly got easier once I got used to the idea.) C has given fluids many many times; I almost think the cats receiving the treatments preferred C (rather than me) doing the poking, since C is sure of himself in these cases.
He has the same approach to money as I do
This is huge! It's always good to agree about money with your partner, and I've found this to be true when we've had to make joint decisions about spending money on treatments for cats. When it comes to these big decisions, C has never let hesitations about money get in the way of a good choice. We're not loaded, and sometimes we had to get really creative or do some negotiating with providers to pursue some of the cat treatments we approved.
For example, for two older female cats who were hyperthyroid, we chose to go the expensive route of radioactive iodine treatment for hyperthyroidism. One cat had a bad allergic reaction to the (much cheaper) pills for hyperthyroidism. My other cat had a bunch of other medical stuff she was being treated for. There was so much going on with her that by the time we figured out that hyperthyroidism was part of the picture, she was down to three pounds.
In both of these cases (which didn't occur together, fortunately!), C completely supported the decision to go with the expensive treatment. It made the most sense in each case, and in the long run, I think it provided the best results for each cat. It wasn't financially easy, and it would have been very easy for C to object to the money being spent. We discussed the pros and cons thoroughly. I deeply appreciate that C was willing to consider all sides of these big decisions. He also has a great way of bringing real clarity to these conversations when I am emotionally muddled or exhausted.
Next: No Prejudice Against Black Cats? O RLY?
I am fortunate to have a very cat-compatible partner. If you are with a partner, how did you know they were cat-compatible? What did you notice? Did you discuss things ahead of time? Share your stories in comments!