I had a fight with my boyfriend over his cat play-biting me. Am I overreacting?
Not at all, says our elder. He should respect your feelings.
Hey there! I just got into a fight with the guy I’m dating. So he has a cat, he’s four months old so still young, and he is very playful. He will play-bite, usually not hard but sometimes it’s overboard. I don’t like getting play-bitten by his cat so I usually try to distract him with his toys and such. His cat roughhousing on me makes me really uncomfortable and fearful, as much as I don’t think he’s violent. Today, I was playing with his cat and he started to bite me a little bit so I kept saying no and moving him away. My boyfriend says that I need to stop being a baby about his cat play-biting, and that he is a cat so he will do stuff like this. We blew up at each other a little bit. Then he played video games for a bit while I just watched and then proceeded to go home. I am really upset but now I feel like I shouldn’t be because it’s over a cat, but it really hurts my feelings. Am I overreacting? Am I feeling wrongly about this? How do I reconcile this?
Thanks for writing to the Elder Wisdom Circle. I am one of the Elder volunteers. I think you are well within your rights to be annoyed at the cat. There are many views on pets, from people who literally hate animals to those who put them up on a pedestal and treat them better than humans. Most folks treat them somewhere in the middle. Based on your words, it sounds like you are someone like that — a person who would never hurt an animal, but at the same time, you don’t treat them better than anyone else in the world. In my opinion, you have the correct balance. You played with his cat, but you drew the line when it was biting you. I would have done the same thing.
Unfortunately, your boyfriend appears to be putting more importance on his cat than he does you. If he started ignoring you and then the two of you had a disagreement because you wouldn’t let the cat bite you, that suggests that he doesn’t honestly care for you very much. I don’t want to imply that you should terminate the romance, but if this is to blossom into a long-term relationship, he needs to adjust his priorities. So, the first bit of advice I have is to tell you that you acted appropriately. Don’t beat yourself up about not letting any animal bite you, be it “play biting” or otherwise. I feel the answer to your first question is that you didn’t overreact, and you are well within your rights to feel the way you do. While it was just a cat nipping at you, you didn’t like it, and he apparently didn’t care.
Now that you have made your point, and both you and your boyfriend have had time to cool off, you are correct in asking how to proceed. How do you reconcile this? First, you both need to talk. Maybe the best way to break the ice is to send him a text or two. For example, suggesting that you get together and have a chat face to face. When you do, explain to him that while you like his cat, it’s a bit too aggressive right now and that you will not let it bite you. Keep it calm and civil. Don’t argue or make demands, and ask him not to do so as well. This isn’t the end of the world, Anonymous, but you need to let him know that you have boundaries that he can’t cross. Putting the cat issue aside, I feel you need to impress upon him that if he wants this relationship to continue, he has to take your feelings more seriously. Again, in a calm but firm manner, let him know that when something he does or allows to happen bothers you, it needs to stop. If you give in and let his cat do whatever it wants, sooner or later, something more significant will arise. What then? You are his girlfriend, and he needs to respect you and treat you with kindness.
I think he’ll understand. If he drives in his heels and continues to sulk, argue or ignore you with video games, etc., be prepared to move on. I can assure you that plenty of other guys will be thankful to date the bright, caring young girl you appear to be. This is the best advice I can give. I have my fingers crossed that you both will work this out. But, if he doesn’t budge, then remember, there are many other guys out there who will appreciate you!
I hope my words helped a little.
Article #: 479870