Question asked on Sep 29th, 2014

Q: My adult son lives with me and was granted supervised visitation e/o weekend with his 12 yr old son. I am to supervise. I have also been a (happy) cat-owner for MANY years. My grandson’s mother complains that he has a cat allergy severe enough to cut off visitation until the “problem is properly dealt with”. We do not ever see immediate allergic reactions nor do we allow the cats to roam about the house when my grandson is visiting. I fastidiously clean/dust/vacuum prior to visits, lock the cats up and run 2 very expensive air purifying units… the 2 parents believe nothing short of getting rid of the cats is acceptable. I feel blackmailed and at least want to check out the legality of my ex-daughter-in-law’s actions. I treasure my animals and love them like children. Of course my grandson is more important to me, but must I REALLY sentence my beloved adult cats to the pound where likelihood of adoption is seriously doubtful and euthanasia is probable?

A: Well, there are alternatives and choices and information to be had all around.  First, it is reasonable to ask whether the child has seen an allergist, and for you to directly check with the allergist as to what precautions — if any — would be required to permit the child to not have a reaction (presuming that the whole thing is not being made up; if mom “just knows” that there is a problem with the cats, that is not good enough, and your son — who I presume has joint LEGAL custody, even if for some reason physical custody is restricted — can request/require adequate medical back-up.)


You say “the parents” are making demands — your son is on board with saying that you have to alter your life because for some reason HE has supervised visitation?  It might be more reasonable, every other weekend, to have your son reside at some other location at which supervision could be offered.  Or move to eliminate or alter supervision.  Of make some other accommodation.

You feel blackmailed because you are BEING blackmailed.  I would do nothing to injure or dispose of creatures you love without first exploring every other physical, and legal, alternative.  It may be a good idea for you, your son, or both, to consult with qualified legal counsel.

Marshal S. Willick