Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat with readers about their romantic, family, financial, and workplace problems. An edited transcript of this week's chat is below. (Get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week; click here to sign up. Read Prudie's Slate columns here.)
However, terminally ill people need to get cut a lot of slack. Could you possibly say to your mother, "We want to honor you the way you want and will do our very best." Then when the time comes, honor her in the way you can afford.
Q. Crazy Cat Mom: My mom has six cats and does not give them proper veterinary care. This weekend my fiance and I stopped by several times to pet-sit for her and are very concerned about one cat in particular who is nearly bald and just sat in her litter box crying. Apparently she has been bald for quite some time and my mom believes that this is because she "got one flea bite and just went crazy pulling her hair out." I do know that my mom has been trying to get rid of the fleas with at-home methods and baths, but these do not seem to be working so we brought over some of our cat's heavy duty flea and tick medicine, though we still feel that she needs to be checked out by a professional or given up for adoption. We've looked up several low-cost veterinary clinics and shelters that she could bring the cat to— or we could even do it—but aren't sure how to present this to her as she gets very nasty when she feels she is being criticized. Do you have any advice for how we can get through to her before it's too late? We're stuck between trying to talk to her or sending an email listing all of the resources we found.
A : Your mother may get nasty, but you can't let her outbursts get in the way of helping suffering animals. I hope the cats she has are spayed and neutered, or else your crazy cat mother is on the way to becoming a crazy cat hoarder. The cat you saw is in a medical crisis, so you should feel free to scoop it out of the litter box and get it the care it needs. Please monitor the situation with the animals. In the worst case, you may have to call animal control to have the pets she can't care for taken away.
Emily Yoffe: Thanks, everyone, and sorry for what were some technical glitches that interrupted the chat. (And I apologize for the mental glitch that had me misread who the friend was in the depressed teen letter.) Have a good July 4th and talk to you Tuesday July 5th.