Have a question? Email erin@nerve.com. Letters may be edited for length, content and clarity.

Dear Miss Information,

I've been dating a great guy for almost six months. The one thing that weirds me out is his terrible luck with pets. He gets kittens from Craigslist, which then get sick and die. He didn't have a pet growing up, so he doesn't understand how cats behave. He's frustrated when they don't eat out of his hand or respond to being petted. You know how a cat will hiss at you when it's over-stimulated? He interprets this as the cat being "bad." To me, that's just a cat being a cat.

Either way, his kittens keep kicking the bucket; he's had three die and hasn't been able to keep others due to behavioral problems. I don't think he's abusing them, but feel his attempts at training are partially behind it, like he's breaking their spirits. Maybe I'm worried because I really like this guy, and his controlling nature around kittens worries me. He's always given me my space and freedom, and been respectful when I have other plans. But what if we get marriedwill he see me as his "pet" and try to train me? What if we have kids? Am I crazy to worry? Please help! Cat Lady

Dear Cat Lady,


Sounds like Meowchausen Syndrome. By proxy. Tell him to take two catspirin and call me in the morning.

All right, I'll be serious. I spent a long time thinking about your letter, and my impressions are mixed. On one hand, he sounds like a decent fellow who's going the grassroots route and trying to do good. That said, Craigslist isn't the best place to find animals. A lot of them come with serious health/behavioral issues, as he's experiencing. I have to wonder: Is your guy really kitty kryptonite, or just a sap who keeps going back for more and more lemons from the same dealer?

Whether or not he "gets it" is at the heart of all your questions. Does he respond to the unexpected — like his tame kitty hissing — or does he charge ahead with his plans, ignoring the (scratching, biting) realities of the situation? Controlling people wouldn't dream of changing their habits; they'd rather change everyone else's. After reading about his behavior towards his fur children, I can understand why you're getting that prickly feeling at the back of your neck. It takes most people thirty seconds around a cat before they realize Mr. Yummy Whiskers subscribes to the school of I Do Whatever the Fuck I Want. Why is it taking so long for him to "get it"?

You know a lot about cat whispering, so share your knowledge! If you don't think he'll listen to you, have him talk to a friend or a vet, whom you prep ahead of time. Buy him some cat books, or offer to adopt one of the shorties for a week and test how your cat-raising techniques fare against his.

He'll either embrace the help, or keep on with the crazy-making. Either way, you'll get a more accurate gauge of his future behavior. There's a strong chance he's just a sweet person going at something all wrong. I'm just now volunteering with kids after years of working with seniors. If anyone judged me on my track record over the past two months I'd be mortified. I made the first kid I worked with cry. Within thirty seconds. I also made the second kid cry. Over a donut hole. But I'm learning. Will he? Does he want to? That'll be the real test going forward. For more on crazy cat chicks (with dicks!), see this awesome New York Times trend piece.

Dear Miss Information,

For over a year, I've been absolutely in love with my girlfriend. She claimed to feel the same way. The second we went to different schools and had four hours of driving distance between us, she shut me out. When I questioned her about a guy I had seen her talking to online, she dumped me the next day. She started dating him ten days later. She claims that she still loves me and thinks we'll "get back together someday," but I'm confused. Before this we never fought, and I honestly think she's my soulmate. What can I possibly do to get her to ignore the distance and make us better again? — Lost Boy

Dear Lost Boy,

I don't think it's the distance. I don't even think it's the other guy. I think it's your girlfriend — who still loves you, I have no doubt. But the nature of that love — the priority and place she wants it to have in her life — have changed.

How can you make it better? Start developing your own life. Stop watching your lady on the internet. If she wants you, she knows where to find you. You can't live your life focusing all your energy on when/if you'll get back together. Maybe one day you will. But, not to be a downer, "I'm breaking up with you" and "I want to get back together with you one day" are the same message. The latter is just delivered in a more roundabout, half-assed way. It doesn't mean that your girl isn't sincere when she says it. But "We're broken up…maaaaybe" is, psychologically, a much easier message to give and take.

I recommend a friendly, classy timeout. Don't talk for a while. Let your friends and family hear how heartbroken you are. It's not her job to help you get over it. Nor is it your job to be her "friend" and get your stomach all twisted up hearing about her dates.

Follow these Ten First-College-Breakup Commandments and you'll be good as new by New Year's Eve:

1. Thou shalt obey the words of Depeche Mode: You are your own personal Jesus. Which means you're The Shit, with capital letters. Leave the low-self-esteem crap in high school.

2. No fake gods. Girls are not gods. Neither is some shitty local band that doesn't want you as a member.

3. Feel free to take thy Ex's name in vain. Just not in an online forum. It makes you look like a douchehole.

4. Remember thy laundry day and keep it holy. You're sad now, but you'll be even sadder if you smell like a sweaty chili dog next time you run into some hottie. Be prepared.

5. Honor your father and mother by lying to them about all the unhealthy shit you're doing to get over thy Ex. They're better off not knowing.

6. Thou shalt not kill, unless on PS3 or Xbox. And, unless they express direct interest, turn if off when new ladies come over. Offer a doobie or some conversation. This is not a clubhouse.

7. Don't commit adultery. Technically, that requires marriage, and no one your age is married or likely getting married anytime soon. So feel free to get your indiscriminate screw on, especially as you're getting over Her.

8. Don't steal, unless it's something you're required to steal as a college student: dining-hall trays, anything with an unintentional marijuana reference, traffic cones. Return your Ex's possessions promptly.

9. Don't dick over your neighbors. They can be good second-string breakup support when none of your friends are around and you're freaking out.

10. Don't steal your neighbor's girlfriend, Hot Pockets, or Adderall. The Ex may come back, and revenge is just way too easy.

Readers, any other commandments you'd like to add? What did you learn from your first big college breakup?

Previous Miss Info

©2008 Erin Bradley and Nerve.com

Commentarium (15 Comments)

Oct 22 08 - 2:09pm

Okay, I don't even really like cats that much (I have them, but they're my husbands'), but the kitten letter kind of freaked me out. They keep DYING!?!?! Death is kind of a big deal, even of a small, furry creature. I've had pets all my life, and every pet death (even of those pets obtained from sketchy strangers, which is actually most if not all of my pets) had an identifiable cause. They were run over, killed by a dog, or in one tragic case ate rat poison. But I knew why with each of them (okay, it took a vet to diagnose the rat poison thing since I certainly hadn't put any out. Stupid neighbors.) I'm not saying this guy is murdering them in Satanic rituals or anything, but something is seriously off if he's managed to kill three kittens in short order. And not be scared by it. Is he feeding them something crazy? Bathing them so much they get colds? Or . . . I dunno. I'm just saying, I am not the most nurturing or obsessive pet owner, and I've never killed a critter by accident. It just seems . . . weird.

Oct 22 08 - 5:25pm

I think you hinted at, but didn't explicitly state the most important piece of advice for Lost Boy: RUN. Run away and never look back. You were clearly involved with a woman who doesn't feel about you the same way you feel about her. It's time to move on with your life now, and next time you'll have this experience to draw on when picking someone to trust with your heart. The sooner you get over her (and for god's sake, anyone who thinks you would "wait" for them after that kind of screwing over is a nightmare), the better off you'll be. Start dating again and forget all about her.

Oct 22 08 - 6:50pm

I'd say, do not, under any circumstances talk to this girl for a while. She ended it- do not continue it. She had no trouble moving on, and neither should you! Take some time for yourself, be happy and single! You don't have to hook up with any girl that comes your way, it'll probably make you feel worse anyway if you still have real feelings for this chick. You were probably pretty happy being single rediscover that happiness :)

Oct 22 08 - 10:36pm

When you say that he had three cats die and had to give away others, are we talking in the six months he's dated you or, like, in the past ten years? This is an important distinction. If it's six bum cats in six months, something is really creepy.

Oct 22 08 - 11:01pm

Look, too many kittens are dying. Dude has very big issues. Or letter writer has really big issues. Hard to say.
In all of my life, I have never experienced so many dead kittens and I am old (41). Yes, some times the kittens, they are born "wrong" or tragedies happen, but, all of this?? Insane.

I raelly think this is just a bait/troll letter , but jeezuz , Miss Info.. I had thought better of you. Telling her to basicaly just keep her eyes open? Sheesh.

Oct 23 08 - 11:31am

LOST BOY needs to know that his ex-girl isn't his 'soul mate' unless she thinks so too. Every young person needs to know that THERE IS NO 'ONE', and their lives do not end when a relationship changes.

Moving away for school is a rite of passage, and it sounds to me like the girl is moving on, while LB is not. They should declare a state of 'seeing other people' and re-evaluate their relationship in a few months...at Xmas or school break when they get back together. After LB gets his knob polished at a few drunken parties on campus, he may realize his 'crisis' is in fact a great opportunity for growth.

Oct 23 08 - 7:28pm

Lost Boy,

Unfortunately for you, it's over. She's not your soulmate. Move on.

Miss Info's advice to "Let your friends and family hear how heartbroken you are" is 100% wrong. Don't give your ex that power over you. Reclaim your self-esteem and manhood by dating women in your local neighborhood who are hotter than your ex. And stop thinking of a woman as a potential soulmate. That's how women are supposed to think of us men when they pursue us, not the other way around. As soon as you spill your guts like that (like a woman would), you're viewed as a woman, which means you're on your way to being dumped. If you want a woman to stay with you, keep your mouth shut, like a man.

Oct 23 08 - 11:32pm

I would add:
1) Don't sleep with your ex
2) Don't sleep with your ex
3) Don't jump into bed with the first person who shows the slightest interest in you. It won't make you feel better; it will just make you feel desperate.
4) Pamper yourself and keep your hair/clothes/makeup/whatever together. Looking together on the outside can help you feel a little more together on the inside. Fake it til you make it.

Oct 23 08 - 11:53pm


Is your advice for Lost Boy? If so

Oct 25 08 - 4:10pm

Miss Info, Normally, I enjoy and support most of what you share in your column, but re: Lost Boy I have to point out one more inconsistency

Oct 25 08 - 4:19pm

RUN AWAY from the Cat Killer. He is seriously fucking with them. No one has 3 pets die in six months--I don't care where you got them. There is a good chance he has psychological problems.

Oct 28 08 - 2:49pm

FYI, that is some of the most sexist and narrow-minded advice i have ever heard. all women are not the same, all men are not the same, and you may be surprised to hear: men and women aren't necessarily inherently different in the ways of the heart. love is far more complicated than you're allowing it to be. you should leave the advice giving to the open-minded of the world.

Oct 28 08 - 5:57pm

Word, krr. Actually it's kind of amusing to read FYI's advice, in the sense that it's always somewhat amusing to listen to a person who presents themself as an authority on a given topic spout misguided, pompous crap about it. Especially when the topic is men and women. Bet the ladies loves that guy.

Oct 28 08 - 8:40pm

LT, the ladies and I get along fine. Know why? Because I

Oct 29 08 - 6:47pm

actually, FYI? as a woman, i have to say that you sound totally fascist-creepy.