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We Build Alaska

Ask a Cat: Roommates, sadness, and hoarding

Ask a cat is an advice column featured in the Alaska Landmine. Have a question for the Cat? Email or click here to submit via a form (anonymous) to get the answers to any of life’s problems.

Dear Cat,

PSSP PSSP PSSP! Ok Cat, here’s one for you to bat at. My friend is currently living with a roommate who owns a little dog. My friend has bonded with the dog over the last year or so. She has watched him while the roommate is away, takes him on walks, and lets him cuddle up with her in her bed. So far so good, right? Well, the roommate has been struggling financially and has asked my friend to pitch in for the dog’s food and care. My view is that the roommate should count her blessings to have someone helping care for her pet, and that asking my friend to pitch in money is totally inappropriate! My friend is not so sure and is waffling because she really does love the dog and she doesn’t want to rock the boat with her living situation. This has become a big topic of debate in our group of friends. What do you think, Cat?

Dear Human,

Cat thinks many things. First off, Roommate is lucky that your friend not only tolerates but cares for their dog. Cat rarely abides by the presence of canines. Cat also thinks Roommate is treading on thin ice asking for financial contributions for dog maintenance. However… Cat is pleased that Roommate is (presumably) doing their best to continue to provide for their fur-friend. Some people view pets as disposable, and unfortunately the scenario could be much sadder. If Friend is capable and willing, they could certainly contribute to the upkeep of dog. If Friend decides to do so, it should be without expectation of being repaid and knowing it would be from the kindness of their heart. Cat agrees that maybe it wasn’t appropriate for Roommate to ask in the first place, but also, we all find ourselves in need occasionally and hopefully roommate’s request comes from humbleness and not audacity. This is up to Friend, whatever they decide to do they should clearly communicate that to Roommate so there is no resentment or confusion lingering. If the situation is truly dire, often a local SPCA will have a pet food bank for those facing extreme financial hardship.


Dear Cat,

I have a good life but I feel sad a lot. I try to be happy but it is hard for me. Any advice?

Dear Human,

Oh the influx of inquiries Cat has seen from sad humans lately! As you humans have only one short life on this planet, Cat strongly encourages you to purrsue happiness more fervently than any other matter. While happiness is subjective and gleaned in slightly different ways by each human, Cat suspects there are some similarities across the board. Cat also acknowledges that purrhaps this is the most miserable, dark time of the year and that could be a contributing factor. Google and my cat wisdom tell me that the happiest humans are generally those with good social support. Cat wonders if you are feeling isolated on any level, and if remedying that might be a good start. Cat is also a strong proponent of therapy and medication as I find it makes humans much more tolerable.


Dear Cat,

Why can’t my partner stop bringing more stuff into the house? We have no more room!

Dear Human,

Cat thinks the first thing to consider is your partner’s motivation. Are they gathering and keeping possessions like a dragon on its hoard? If these items and mementos are of sentimental value or fulfilling some sort of emotional need, Cat thinks it will be a little bit difficult to declutter. If, however, the accumulation of goods is merely a matter of time management and inability to get around to paring down, the task is much more simple.

After you have what Cat thinks can be a brief but meaningful conversation with your partner about your concern, Cat thinks you should be aware that likely you will be the one in charge of implementing any change. So be clear about what you are willing to undertake.

Cat suggests you start small. It is always easy to build on small progress, and very hard to manage taking on too much at once. Habits (such as a decluttered space) are built on consistency and repetition, not perfection. If this means you set a timer for five minutes each day and declutter, so be it. Small steps are still steps.

Other considerations for decluttering (should you have spare time on your hands) could include selling items and using the money for a nice meal or towards a vacation or donating goods to your favorite local cat shelter.

Cat reminds you again that often people are emotionally attached to their stuff, so tread lightly.


Hear Meowt

Dear sad humans, of which there are so many. As we lost an hour of precious sunlight this weekend (hopefully you didn’t forget to pounce forward on Sunday) Cat empathizes that we are all yearning for spring days and the lightheartedness that accompanies. May you find solace in your loved ones and extend a paw of kindness to those around you.

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