Dear Uncommon Courtesy,
My roommate has a cat who sometimes vomits and less often … poops … around the apartment. Sometimes when this happens I am the only one home, or the first to find the pile. Am I being an asshole for ignoring it? It’s not my cat! It’s disgusting! There is cat shit on the bathmat at this very moment!
Okay I’m probably an asshole. Please tell me what the right thing is to do here. If I clean it, is there a way to tell my roommate without being sanctimonious? She can’t control her cat’s bodily functions.
Thanks for your advice. In the meantime I’m sucking it up and putting on gloves.
Victoria: So I totally think she is well within her rights not to do any cleanup. Roommate’s cat, roommate’s problem. (For the record, I have a cat AND a roommate and I do everything except when she kindly feeds him when I go out of town.)
But, obviously, if its in your way, it behooves you to clean it up.
Jaya: Right. And it reminded me of something Jolie wrote about at some point, about living with someone and cleaning duties. Because people have different clean thresholds, but it’s unfair for the person who wants things cleaner to have to pick up that slack all the time.
Victoria: Yesssss…that’s my curse, always, haha.
Jaya: Okay it’s not a direct analogy but like, you can protest and be like “no I will not clean this up,” but then you’re living in a house full of cat shit.
Victoria: And you should definitely insist that roommate picks up after her cat as soon as she gets home.
Also! Cat vomit is just a fact of life with cats.
But the pooping thing is concerning
Jaya: Yeah, take that cat to a vet!
Victoria: It’s either because the litter box is dirty or because the roommate is ignoring the cat and the cat is seeking attention.
Or yeah, go to the vet.
But that’s not okay, and the writer should definitely address it with the roommate.
Also, a thing with cats, is sometimes it is best to just remove temptation than get mad that cat is ruining your stuff.
For example, my extremely lovely cat likes to pee on the bathmat. It just feels good on his paws or something!
So I hang the bathmat over the curtain rod when I am done using it. As a bonus, it stays cleaner and fresher longer!
Jaya: Hah! Very practical.
Victoria: But obviously that is easier with some things than others.
Jaya: Right. Yeah I think here, if it’s in a high traffic area and your roommate is not gonna be home for a long time, you should probably clean it up for your own sanity.
But if it’s a matter of your roommate coming home, seeing cat vomit, and doing nothing about it, that’s a problem
Victoria Pratt: Yeah, for me its definitely more of an issue of whether the roommate is dealing with the situation when she
gets there or not. But this writer is totally NOT a jerk for letting the roommate deal with it.
Jaya: Definitely not. Cats are the jerks for not cleaning it up themselves.
Victoria: Yessss, but they do give us fuzzy cuddles, so wash.
Oh also! I think that when you sign up to live with someone who has a pet, you are signing up for all the annoyances that sometimes come with a pet. And if you prefer to not have those annoyances, you should not live with someone with a pet.
Though it sounds like this person is pretty reasonable about it.
Jaya: Right. And this can’t always be avoided. Good roommates are hard to come by. But pets make noise and shed and vomit sometimes. It just comes with having one around.
Victoria: Yep, the cat is your roommate too! And its probably better than someone’s annoying boyfriend who never leaves.
Jaya: If you ever have to clean up your roommate’s vomit that’s another story.
Victoria: Hahaha, I mean, if the roommate is very, very ill, it would be a nice gesture!
Jaya: Would it be a crazy rule to set that, if you clean your roommate’s vomit, they have to pay your rent for a month?
Victoria: Lol noooo. That’s a lot of money. And, like, you can’t put a price on human kindness, JAYA.
Jaya: I can. It’s rent for vomit.
Victoria: Hahaha, I would have a different attitude about drunk vomit vs illness vomit.
Jaya: Hmm, I guess. Though it doesn’t make it any less gross to clean it up.
Victoria: True, but you are cleaning it up out of a great sense of pity.
Jaya: Like again if the cat was sick or if it just ate its food too fast like an idiot
(Ed: To our letter writer, we realized we never answered your question about how to tell your roommate if you did clean up. You definitely should mention it, just be like “oh by the way, Snookers threw up again. I cleaned it up but I wanted you to know in case it becomes something you need to take him to the vet for.”)
Explain to the roommate why the cat is now yours and the roommate can leave.