Are domestic cats sometimes the reason, as cited in divorce papers, for the divorce of a married couple? The answer has to be yes but….I don’t know how often domestic cats are cited in divorce papers. There are some interesting historical records however, which I cover briefly below.
The fact of the matter is that cats per se will rarely be the reason for a divorce. It is more about incompatibility between spouses. So, for example, if a woman loves domestic cats and over time acquires too many then her husband, who may not be a cat lover, might well become fed up with the situation and cite his wive’s behaviour as unreasonable in divorce proceedings.
This very scenario took place in around 1912. A Kansas City man obtained a divorce because his wife had adopted 35 cats and looked after them in the house. Rather brutally, a journalist on the local newspaper stated that it was physically impossible for the husband to “kick them all around once”. This scenario may happen today. Although I have not read any online stories on the subject. A cat hoarding wife may test the patience of her husband.
In the same Californian news journal it was reported that one man drew the line at cats. A divorce was granted to the man who had pleaded in divorce papers that “cruelty in keeping cats in the house”. In those days you had to find “fault”. He was arguing that it was cruel to him for his wife to keep cats in the house. During the divorce proceedings the judge asked him why he didn’t put the cat out of the house from time to time (those where the days when indoor cats were less commonplace). His answer was that his wife was a member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and as a consequence he was afraid that she would have him arrested if he had put the cat outside. The year was 1913, incidentally. Things have changed. Or have they?
Sometimes when a marriage breaks down because the parties have grown apart gradually, as is very common, the husband’s discontent may be catalysed and focused upon the family cat because his wife may spend more time and provide more love to the family cat than to him.
I can remember when my parents were arguing some 40 years ago. The argument ended with my mother picking up one of her cats, going out into the garden and cuddling her cat as she walked round the garden. She was finding solace and friendship and love in her domestic cat while my father looked on. Love and understanding was lacking, at least at that moment, from her husband.
I think you will find that it is not the domestic cat which causes a divorce. What causes a divorce between a married couple is most often that they have grown apart and learned to dislike aspects of the other’s behaviour. Then sometimes the domestic cat can become a catalyst because the wife seeks comfort in her domestic cat companion. The husband notices and is presented with a clear indication that the marriage is over or dying.
This is illustrated in the following story. In 1947, the Milwaukee Journal reported, “Wife Likes Cat, Husband Doesn’t; He Asks Divorce”. The marriage had lasted for 24 years. An argument was centred around the fact that the wife let the cat inside despite the cat’s fondness for scratching and damaging furniture. This appears to have riled the husband. However the real issue between the two was that the husband wanted his wife to go out with him more often and they nagged one another. I think we can file this under “general breakdown”.
Today there is no fault divorce but you usually you will still have to divorce your spouse on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour and that means spelling out to a certain extent the issues although they are somewhat academic. Sometimes, I suspect, the domestic cat may be referred to but as mentioned the real causes for the breakdown is not the presence of the innocent family cat companion.
Then comes the fight over custody of the cat…..Do you know of a divorce which was caused by domestic cats?