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Girl Heartbroken Over Cat in the Hat

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Hey, Cherie!

I'm 13, and I am the saddest girl ever. My cat, Dr. Seuss (I named him after the author who is famous and wrote "The Cat in the Hat") is my best friend. I got him from a shelter when he was just a little ball of black fur that fit in my hand and tried to nurse on my earlobe. I instantly fell in love. I don't have brothers or sisters, and I was kind of lonely until I got Seuss. He sleeps with me every night and waits by the door when I get home from school and follows me around like a dog. I love him so, so, so much.

Here is my horrible problem. The lease is going to be done on our apartment at the end of the year so we are moving because there are some bad people who live in this building. My parents both want to move to an apartment complex not too far away. The apartment is nice, and there is a pool, but they do not take pets!! I would rather live in a cardboard box outside than give up Seuss! I told my parents how I felt and my dad said, "It's just a cat, Emmie." He doesn't understand how I feel at all. My mom always goes along with whatever my dad says. She says maybe my Aunt Anna can take Seuss and then just drops it. After that I ran to my room and cried and cried into Seuss's fur.

Right now I want to take Seuss and run away from home. I feel like I will die of sadness and my parents don't even care. -Brokenhearted

Hey, Broken!

Oh, sweetie, I truly, truly feel your pain. I am a huge animal lover, and I've had cats all my life. Right now there is my cat, Bubba, and my son's cat, Mac Dre. They sleep in each other's arms. It would break my heart to have to give them away, so I know just how you feel. The worse part is that, when you are a kid, you don't have any power over these decisions. You say that you cry alone in your room. Is it possible that your parents have so much on their minds that they haven't really focused on how much this means to you? It sounds like they didn't sign a lease at the new place yet. My suggestion is — you tell your parents you want to talk with them, and it's very important.

Hopefully this will get them both to sit down and pay attention. Tell them exactly how you feel and how much you have been crying. Practice what you want to say ahead of time. Then tell them what you told me (you can also show them this column). Maybe they don't realize how lonely you were before you had Seuss, or they didn't grow up with pets and so don't understand how a pet becomes a part of your family. Perhaps you can show them how much it means to you to choose a pet-friendly apartment by offering to do something they would really like you to do, such as work hard enough to get on the honor role, cook dinner once a week, whatever. You get the gist — something you know would be meaningful to them. Don't make any promises you don't intend to keep just to get your way. You make a deal, you keep the deal. I'm hoping this works. If it doesn't, write to me again, and I'll offer you some more ideas via email. Good luck, I'm pulling for you. Give Dr. Seuss a big hug from me.

Hey, Cherie!

This is totally embarrassing. I'm a guy, age 14. My family is from Lebanon. They are very old-fashioned. In the past few months, my eyebrows, which were already kind of large and bushy, grew together in the middle so that I have one long, furry snake eyebrow above my eyes. Kids at school make fun of me all the time. If I saw me, I'd make fun of me. But if I shave between my brows, my parents will kill me. It is against their beliefs. What do I do? —Social Outcast

Hey, Social!

Well, the rebel in me wants to tell you that you should just shave between your brows so that every day at school isn't a day of fresh hell ... but I am what is known as a "mature grown up" ergo I am not supposed to tell a 14-year-old boy to go against his parent beliefs. So, Plan B. Do you have an aunt or uncle or some adult in your family whom your parents respect, who understands how horrible this situation is for you? I would talk to that person, and then ask them to talk to your parents. You need a bridge between what it's like to be Unibrow Boy in eighth-grade America and having your parents understand that you are not dissing them or their beliefs.

Cherie Bennett is a best-selling author of books for teens and young adults. Visit her website at www.cheriebennett.com. To find out more about Cherie Bennett and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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Comments

9 Comments | Post Comment
Hey Unibrow - Better yet, go to the grocery store or drugstore and buy yourself a pair of tweezers. When you get home, pluck out the worst 5 stray hairs. The next day, pluck out just a few more. A few days later, a few more. Keep it so gradual that your parents and classmates won't notice and that the hairs, when they grow back in, won't be all in a big 'crop' like they would be if you shaved. A few hairs a day (for the rest of your life) will make all the difference.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Sweeby
Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:49 AM
Hey Unibrow - Better yet, go to the grocery store or drugstore and buy yourself a pair of tweezers. When you get home, pluck out the worst 5 stray hairs. The next day, pluck out just a few more. A few days later, a few more. Keep it so gradual that your parents and classmates won't notice and that the hairs, when they grow back in, won't be all in a big 'crop' like they would be if you shaved. A few hairs a day (for the rest of your life) will make all the difference.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Sweeby
Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:50 AM
LW1 -- I am also an animal lover and currently have one cat and one dog. Something else to mention to your parents: the cat didn't choose to be adopted by this family, your family chose to adopt him. I'm a firm believer that when you adopt a pet, you have to make every possible effort to ensure you don't ever have to give it away. Assuming that there are other housing options in the area that are affordable that DO accept cats (and are in safe areas, etc.), then your parents, who, I presume, agreed to allow you to get this cat in the first place, really should look into those options.

Having said all of that, please understand that depending on what sort of housing options are available in your area that are within your family's means, it may well be that moving to a pet-friendly apartment simply is NOT an option. At that point, it is your parents' duty to weigh the importance of your and their safety with keeping the cat -- and I'm afraid I'm going to have to agree that your and their safety is more important than keeping the cat. In that case, it will be your and your parents' duty to do right by the cat by trying to find a good home for him.

So, by all means, take the time to make sure your parents understand how important Seuss is to you -- and make sure they also understand that all of you are responsible for this cat's welfare, since all of you agreed to that responsibility when the cat was adopted. But do not expect your parents to stay in an unsafe situation -- or go broke renting a place they can't really afford -- for the sake of the cat.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Lisa
Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:38 PM
Lisa, you nailed it on LW1. The family has a duty to make sure that this cat is well cared for, and to keep him if at all possible, but it could very well be that it's not possible for them. The important thing is that the parents have to take this responsibility seriously, amid all their other concerns, and make sure that the cat has a safe and loving place to live, whether or not it's with them.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Laura
Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:33 AM
I'm also a cat owner and an apartment dweller. More often than not, a no pets apartment will accept a single cat if it's spayed or neutered, housebroken, all-indoor, and if you put up an extra deposit for it. You can ask, anyway.

Heck, my cat even has his ow references from former landlords!
Comment: #5
Posted by: Sometimes_A_Great_Notion
Fri Nov 30, 2012 5:14 AM
LW1: Is it possible that you AND Seuss can go live with your aunt? That will allow your parents even more freedom and indulgence. A parent who decides that pets are disposable, and that they can and should be gotten rid of the second they become inconvenient, generally has the same attitude toward their children.

All-black cats who are beyond the cute kitten stage are EXTREMELY difficult to adopt out of shelters, and stand a very high chance of being "put to sleep" because too many people still believe they're bad luck.

So, call up your aunt, explain the situation, and ask if you and Seuss can come live with her. If you help out around the house a lot and maybe babysit on the side, you will be able to pay for your own food and books.
Comment: #6
Posted by: R.A.
Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:43 PM
R.A., true, but, if worst comes to worst, she could take the cat to a "no kill" shelter and visit it there everyday.
Comment: #7
Posted by: sarah morrow
Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:19 PM
@R.A. -- I wouldn't be so quick to condemn these parents for thinking the cat is disposable and assuming that's also how they feel about children. It's certainly possible -- but it's also at least EQUALLY possible that the parents have taken all of this into consideration and have actually looked for other, pet-friendly housing options and, in the end, had to make a tough decision because they had to put the safety of their child and themselves first. This is a 13-year-old girl writing in. She might not have all the facts. Her parents might not have discussed all of this with her. So, even though I totally agree that the entire family should be looking for every possible option that allows them to keep the cat, as that is what responsible pet owners do (as I noted in my original comment at #3), I am not automatically assuming that they aren't, in fact, already doing this. They may not be -- which is why the LW needs to talk with her parents about this, making sure they understand Seuss' importance to her and the responsibility that the entire family took on when they adopted this cat. But it's also possible that they have and the 13-year-old -- who may not recognize just how precarious their living and financial situation is right now -- just doesn't know it.

Years ago, when I was an apartment dweller, I had two cats (right now, I have a cat and a dog). Whenever I had to move, I always made a point of finding an apartment that would allow me to bring my cats with me. I wouldn't have considered doing otherwise, and it was generally easy (and not that much more expensive) for me to find cat-friendly apartments. But at that time, I had no children to worry about. Once children come into play, there's a whole other list of things and responsibilities that come with them -- different safety issues, concerns about living in a good school district, etc. I would never condone treating a cat as "disposable," but now that I have a son (and another child on the way), you'd better believe I will put my child's safety above the cat's. If I couldn't find suitable housing that allowed the cat, I would either find another home for the cat, or I would place the cat in a no-kill shelter (which isn't always easy to fine). I would first make EVERY EFFORT to find suitable housing where the cat would be welcome, but at the end of the day, if that just couldn't be done, then I'd find another home for the cat. This wouldn't make me a bad person who considers pets (and kids) disposable. This would make me a responsible parent trying to do what's best for everyone.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Lisa
Tue Dec 4, 2012 12:18 PM
Lisa, the attitude the parents are taking with their daughter does give don't care attitude about the cat.

I hope Cherie let's us know how this ends. I'm cat lover and I have had two black cats (one with me now, other died). I hope the girl keeps the cat.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Kath
Sun Dec 9, 2012 8:39 AM
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