You be the judge: should my girlfriend spend less money on her cats? | Relationships

The prosecution: Rob

Lakshmi spends her entire salary on the cats, then says she can’t afford to go on holiday with me

I think of cats as pets, while my girlfriend, Lakshmi, refers to them as her “children”. We have Bella, Kiera and Fiona, who are a year old. Lakshmi and I usually live apart, but moved in together for the duration of lockdown. I had to move out of my home office, as it was turned into the cat’s bedroom. Lakshmi and I are very different in our attitudes towards the cats, but her stance affects us both.

Lakshmi will spend her entire month’s wages on the cats. She has cancelled dinner dates, using the money to pay for cat food and vet bills. She recently spent £400 on a wifi-controlled catflap. When Fiona wasn’t eating normally, Lakshmi once spent £1,700 on scans, blood observations and checkups. It turned out Fiona was constipated. We had to cancel our holiday after that, as Lakshmi didn’t have enough money left to go.

We’ve been together five years and keep our finances separate. Lakshmi will pay for a lot of the cat stuff, and I’ll take care of the human food. She spends loads on expensive cat food but gets annoyed if I don’t get the cheapest supermarket-brand food for us. I eat cheap ham, but the cats have the finest. She also gets mad if I point out that five daily dishes of dry cat food for three cats – as well as extra treats – is too much. I once said the cats were getting heavy and she didn’t talk to me for two days.

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We split the cost of our holidays and going out. Normally this works, but recently Lakshmi has complained about having no money. We want to have a long holiday to celebrate our five-year anniversary and I’m worried that she’ll cancel if some unexpected cat expense comes up. She once nearly missed a dentist appointment she’d waited a year for because Keira had a runny eye.

Lakshmi should stop spending so much on the cats and prioritise her finances. It’s her choice how she spends her money, of course, but I’d like to know she can pay for her half of things if we are making plans together.

The defence: Lakshmi

I feel that I have to prioritise my cats’ health, wellbeing and diet over my own

Rob’s exaggerating about me spending all my money on the cats. But I can choose to live it up or to help my cats – and I choose the cats. You have to prioritise their health, wellbeing and food before your own. Rob complains about eating cheap food, but he’s usually happy to shop at Lidl so I don’t get why he cares. I buy the finest for the cats and the cheapest for us. There’s no way I’d give the cats low-cost supermarket food. They have lovely, glossy bodies because they eat the best.

The time Fiona wasn’t right, Rob agreed with me. The vet confirmed she wasn’t well, so I was right. Rob was just concerned about the money. I’m particular about the cats because I once missed Bella’s bad tooth. I had taken her for a checkup and the vet told me she had a rotten molar, and that she might have been in pain for eight months. I felt so guilty.

Now, whatever I have to pay at the vets, I just pay it. Yes, you have the consultation fees, plus the medicine and an extra £100 if it’s out of hours, but I don’t mind. I save up. Once, Rob didn’t realise the cat had been bitten in the tail, and it got infected. Waiting can make things worse.

Another time, Keira was blinking loads and Rob said: “Whatever it is, she’s not going to die from it.” It’s his favourite line. I wanted to take her to the vet out of hours, but Rob said to wait. The next day, it turned out Keira had a scratched cornea and needed eye drops. Again, I felt guilty as we could have gone earlier.

Rob has less of a right to say anything about my cats – they are my responsibility. We live apart, but spend alternate weekends at each other’s houses. Rob is the cat’s “uncle”. He thinks it’s ridiculous that I spent money on electronic catflaps but why not?

Rob and I are always going to disagree. I don’t earn as much as him, so I have to weigh things up. I do need to go to the dentist’s for a new crown, but Keira has watery eyes and Fiona might have dermatitis, so I’ve delayed it. I can live with a bad tooth but my girls can’t live with that.

The jury of Guardian readers

Should Lakshmi stop spending so much money on her cats?

Lakshmi’s cat pampering is completely bonkers. Their rich diet may give them glossy bodies, but also dermatitis, constipation and runny eyes! Were Lakshmi to have to choose between Rob and the cats, I’d hazard the cats would win paws down.
Emma, 44

Lakshmi can spend her money however she wants. Rob, on the other hand, may want to consider whether he wishes to be with a partner who struggles to afford romantic activities because of her pet obsession.
Lewis, 38

Lakshmi and Rob don’t normally live together so it is Lakshmi’s decision as to how much she spends on her cats. However, a sense of balance, both in terms of care for herself and her relationship, seems lacking. Lakshmi could get ill from not taking care of herself and thereby let the cats down.
Cher, 51

Lakshmi’s choices are affecting their relationship. It’s not healthy to put pets above everything, you have to look after yourself first. Rob isn’t being unreasonable to ask for balance, and for his feelings to be considered fairly.
Nick, 41

Lakshmi is an adult and has every right to make decisions relating to her cats even if some of them are extreme. Rob needs to decide whether he can live as (at best) fourth choice, and as a consequence Lakshmi may have to live with being a single cat lady.
Arya, 37

You be the judge

So now you can be the judge, click on the poll below to tell us: should Lakshmi spend less money on her cats?

We’ll share the results on next week’s You be the judge.

The poll closes Thursday December 9, 9am GMT

Last week’s result

We asked if Tom should listen to his partner Jenny and spend more time with his baby.

2% of you said no – Tom is innocent
98% of you said yes – Tom is guilty

Have a disagreement you’d like settled? Or want to be part of our jury? Click here