Ask Sharleen Joynt: “I Love My Boo But Not His Cats. Help!”

Sharleen Joynt—Bachelor contestant turned dating guru—on how to deal with cantankerous kitties

Sharleen Joynt Bachelor

(Illustration: Bijou Karman)

Dear Sharleen,

My BF is super smart and kind, and he makes me laugh (plus, he’s a total babe who slays in bed). The catch? He has two troubled cats. I am definitely not a cat person. His critters constantly knock things over, scratch his furniture, chew up the plants and pound at the bedroom door at night and he is not very stern with them, only doling out the occasional spray-bottle warning (at my request). We want to move in together, but my main hesitation is living with his felines for the next 15 years. I would never ask him to give them up, but my annoyance at their bad behaviour and my boyfriend’s lax discipline is irksome for both of us. Am I an immature bitch for being reluctant to embark on an unchic pet-proofed life? Or is the onus on him to be a better disciplinarian? —Need Help Meow

Dear Need Help Meow,

Cats are not for everyone. My fiancé, Andy, and I adopted a kitten last year (before we discovered Andy’s terrible allergy and tragically had to give her up after three months; don’t worry, she found a great home), and it was a learning experience, not only “parenting” the kitten itself, but also in terms of our relationship. It rapidly became apparent that, like you, I was Mean Mommy—I was ALL about that water spray bottle—while Andy was the easygoing parent who found everything she did (including burrowing into our plants and irreparably scratching our brand new sofa) utterly adorable. Our cat may have happily moved in with a family in Queens, but her claw marks live on in our apartment. That said, there isn’t much you can do here. It’s safe to say your BF is a bigger catch than those cats are a deal breaker. Sacrifices are par for the course when moving in with your partner, and your trade-off for such a great boyfriend is a kitty-proofed, trinketless home. However, your man deserves reprimands of his own if he doesn’t pull his weight in the discipline department. Cats may very well be untrainable devil creatures, but your BF should still make an effort to train them—even if it’s only to appease you! After all, what if you two want to start a family one day? Being a like-minded team with the same goals (and same rules) is paramount, and don’t let him forget it. For awhile it may feel like you’re disciplining three living creatures under one roof, but as your cats’ behaviour (hopefully) improves, sharing that teamwork and responsibility should bring you and your man even closer. —Sharleen

In desperate need of Sharleen’s sage advice? Email your dating queries to with Ask Sharleen in the subject, tweet us @FLAREfashion or post on our Facebook page using #AskSharleen. Then, look for her reply in a future issue!

More On-Point Dating Advice From Sharleen Joynt:
When Does Sharing Become TMI?
My Friend is a Train Wreck, Should I Stop Her?

When Should I Stop Making the Next Move?
My BF Is a Heavy Pot-Smoker, Should I Leave Him?
How Do I Get Back in the Dating Game After Years?
Dating Rich and Ditching the Friend Zone
Why Is My BF Icing Me Out on Social?

And ICYMI, Sharleen is also our Bachelor in Paradise recapper!


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3 comments on “Ask Sharleen Joynt: “I Love My Boo But Not His Cats. Help!”

  1. I’m a dog person and know very little about cats, but I have friends who have cats and their pets don’t act this badly. I know that if I was thinking of moving in with someone with an out-of-control dog, I would suggest a dog trainer who specializes in pooches with problem behaviours, pointing out how much easier and more pleasant life when a dog is well-behaved – that goes for both owners and their dogs. Perhaps there is something similar for cats?


  2. I had this exact same problem, although I was the one who wanted to get a kitten!

    The only solution is to have closed doors on rooms you don’t want to risk the cat getting into, and make sure to tire your cat out with toys, catnip, etc. Our cat spends most of her time outdoors and this improved her behavior dramatically – she now never jumps up on the counter or table and is generally much calmer (but winter is coming…). I don’t think this is a solution most people can allow – but if you have a big yard, try and send them outside?


  3. Spray bottles don’t work on cats – don’t bother. Those cats are understimulated and bored. Get them some toys, maybe a cat tree to climb on. Get some some catnip or wheatgrass to chew, and move your plants up. They’ll improve with attention and stimulation.


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