Today, Google tells me that divorce can be over such things as Covid-19, cheating, coffee, cats, cigarettes, chores, chewing tobacco, clutter, child discipline and credit card debt. Quite a list and these are just the “Cs”! And within the list is “cats”, which is timely because you may have bumped into a story on the Internet about a man divorcing his wife of 45 years over her obsession with cats.

Cat hoarding picture. This is not the home referred to in the article but it is here to illustrate the page. I imagine that the family home looked a bit like this.

It’s a sad story and it takes place in Singapore. A divorce court in that country granted a 70-year-old Singaporean retiree a divorce on the grounds of his wife’s obsession with cats which drove him out of the family home in 2006.

They had been estranged for 15 years and there had been marital problems since 1997. This information alone would indicate that cats were not the only problem.

However, the husband had tolerated his wife’s cats for almost 10 years. The 67-year-old woman developed an obsession with them. She dreamt of her late mother who told her to be kind to felines. She began to believe that the only way that she could cross into paradise after her death was to look after them and accordingly she went around the neighbourhood feeding stray cats and bringing them back home.

The collection of cats became a nuisance inside the home as they roamed around freely and they were not toilet trained and so they would urinate and defecate indiscriminately making the house uninhabitable. Breaking point arrived for the husband. He could no longer tolerate the situation when his bed was “constantly defiled”. He left the bed and started to sleep on a mat.

As is usual in cat hoarding situations, the stench from cat faeces and urine was horrendous. You get this heavy ammonia smell from these homes which permeates throughout properties nearby which is exactly what happened in this instance because subsequently neighbours complained.

The authorities turned up and warned the wife but she ignored it. In 2003 the husband called the police but they washed their hands of it because it was (and they are correct) a civil matter unless there is animal cruelty involved.

The final straw came when cats started to urinate directly on him during his sleep. He left the matrimonial home and never returned after 2007. He stopped contact with his wife. The judge granted a divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour and separation. The couple had been married since May 1975 and had three children.

In a final act of unreasonable behaviour and perhaps theft, the wife withdrew almost half of his S$500,000 (Singapore dollars) pension without his permission. The wife is appealing the decision of the court as she opposes the divorce because she did not want to split the matrimonial home.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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