In the summer, a Bengal cat appeared on our back porch. (Bengals are an expensive breed of domestic cat that resemble small leopards.) He meowed urgently and was much too thin. I could see his ribs. It had no identification so I gave it a can of salmon as it wasn’t clear if anyone else was feeding it. After that it started to happen regularly. One day it stayed in the evening so we kept it overnight. We were concerned about foxes. The next day the cat showed up with a tracking collar and the owner soon followed. He told us he had another cat and a dog, but he left no contact information. Now it’s winter – and extremely cold – and the cat comes every day (without a tracker). We chase him out at night, but he clearly wants to stay here, dozing under the radiator. What must we do? We love the cat, but we don’t want to steal someone else’s expensive pet. Still, we’re not sure it should go anywhere.
What a bond! I understand your concern about the optics of expensive pet abduction, but I am more concerned about keeping this cat safe. Even outdoor cats need a warm, dry shelter when temperatures dip below freezing. (Breaking: It’s cold outside!) You have no idea what happens to the cat after you chase it out the door. And the owner’s failure to put a secure escape collar on it with contact information leaves you with no human choice to keep him inside for now. (Other hazards: cars and predators.)
It is possible that the cat has been implanted with a microchip with identifying information on it. Check with a local vet or animal shelter. (Also leave your name and number.) Of course, the owner has followed the cat to your house before. You don’t need the detective skills of a Hardy Boy to come back to you.
Now on to the emotional component of your rescue: You’ve become attached to the cat. But remember that you only cherish it until you can ensure its safety. (Easier said than done, I know, but protecting this animal is also the price.) If the owner shows up again, make sure the cat has easy access to a hiding place before returning it. And this time take his number!
When a greeting feels like a slap
On a few occasions, clerks have helped me in stores, and at the end of our transactions, they folded their hands in prayer before their hearts and bowed their heads. I find this gesture racist towards Asians. (I am Asian.) So far I have bitten my tongue. What should I do?
Blame yoga. Most yoga classes I’ve taken end with students sitting cross-legged with our hands in prayer as we bow our heads to the teacher and say “namaste” – Sanskrit for “I bow to you.” Taking this gesture from a yoga studio, where classes often explore ancient Hindu traditions, and mindlessly bringing it into a retail space seems like cultural appropriation to me — even without the spoken “namaste.”
I’m sorry this happened. I doubt the clerks mean disrespect to you or South Asians. However, that is no reason to be silent. If you feel comfortable saying something, say, “You may not know this, but the namaste greeting isn’t just for yoga classes. South Asians use it even today, and people from that culture may find it hurtful or offensive if you borrow it.”
Too few chefs in the kitchen
My mother-in-law loves to cook and thinks she is a fantastic cook. She dislikes restaurants and take-out. So when we come to visit, which we do for a week, we are forced to eat food she cooks at every meal. The problem: I find her cooking horrible – almost inedible! When we visit, I am always hungry and often feel sick and weak from lack of food. My husband agrees with her cooking, but he is terrified of hurting her. What can I do?
DAUGHTER IN LAW
Don’t color me in awe of your ingenuity. If you hate your mother-in-law’s cooking, why not help her out and make something you love to eat? Stop at the shops and buy delicious cheeses and breads. Bring gifts of luxurious nuts and olives. Just because you’re staying with a parent doesn’t mean you have to act like a kid.
There’s Out of the Loop, and then there’s this
What is the best way to handle a Christmas card that was addressed to me and featured my son, but used the wrong last name for him? He was not adopted by my second husband. Also, my son is no longer alive! My cousin clearly hasn’t kept up with her family. To help!
My first thought here was to express my concern that your niece’s card might cause new grief. If that’s the case, I’m sorry. But honestly, you seem more interested in berating your niece, focusing on her using a wrong last name before even mentioning your son’s death. She clearly hadn’t heard the sad news. I don’t consider that her fault though. If you want her to know, tell her.
For help with your predicament, send an inquiry to SocialQ., to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.