The Polite Pet
Q. A friend who loves my cat offered to keep him when I went out of town. While he was there he scratched up one of the wooden legs on her sofa. Do I have to offer to replace it?
A. You may not have to replace the entire sofa but you should offer to repair the leg, says animal trainer Darlene Arden. Show your remorse by doing the requisite research quickly and by reassuring your friend that you'll stop at nothing to right your kitty's wrong. If your cat is ever invited back, be sure to pack a scratching post and some old socks (to cover the furniture legs) in his overnight bag.
Q. A friend invites me over to dinner fairly often. She has three cats that walk all over the kitchen counters and the dining table. It's gross! Can I say anything?
A. You know the saying "cat got your tongue?" Pretend it actually happened. "Your friend already knows her cats are everywhere," says Jodi R. R. Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. "If she didn't like it she would've already done something about it." If you're compelled to confess how disturbing you find her freewheeling felines (maybe mentioning a recent study in the American Journal of Infection Control that showed homes with cats are eight times likelier to harbor a dangerous strain of staph bacteria than homes without), understand that speaking up could cause irreparable damage. If your friendship is more important than stating your hygiene standards, your options are inviting her to your place or meeting out for meals. Bon appetit!