Ask Mr. Manners, with Buenos the Cat

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buenosheadshot01.jpgHello Buenos, My roommate is a disgusting pig. She lets her dirty dishes pile up for weeks, lets her food go moldy in the fridge, gets hair dye stains all over the bathroom, and leaves her dirty clothes scattered about the apartment, among other things. On top of that, she is never home to take care of her mess, and I always end up scrubbing the place floor to ceiling because I can't take it anymore. When she is home for a few seconds, she does not even say 'thank you' for all my efforts. I don't mind that she is out partying all the time, but I wish she would take some responsibility for our apartment, or at least show me some appreciation. What can I do or say to her that won't ruin our relationship and make our living situation awkward? Thanks for your help! - Burned Out in Brooklyn

There are few things in this world that truly annoy the Buenos, but wasted food is one of them.  Every morning one of my owners will feed both Trixie and me a plate of the most delicious wet cat food and every morning I clean my plate.  Trixie?  She turns her nose up at it and only eats about half.  Sometimes if I have room in my flabby cat stomach, I will help her out a little bit, which I think she resents but if she had wanted it she would have eaten it, not to mention that it gets all dark and dried out after fifteen or twenty minutes.  You see, in the picture? Buenos VS Trixie I'm not making this up!  It's enough to drive a cat loco!  But what can the Buenos do?  I cannot force the food into Trixie's scowling little mouth.  Then one day Trixie finished off her whole portion of the food and I was so relieved that I did not have to over eat or let the food go bad!  I walked over to Trixie and instead of batting at her like I usually do I instead helped her clean her grey tabby fur with my tongue which was perfectly greasy from the cat food we'd just eaten.  She tried to make like she was annoyed, but her soft purr betrayed the satisfaction she was getting from my attentive tongue.  The next day she didn't finish it, but I could tell that she had tried because there was a little less food left over than usual.  It made me feel a little less angry with her.  What I realized is that sometimes you have to ignore the bad behaviour and reward the good behaviour.  Maybe, BOB, your roommate will at least clear the table.  This should be rewarded with a few well placed licks, maybe on the top of her head or her back haunches.  You know, nothing too crazy, just a kind of a small token of your appreciation that she has made the slightest effort.  Be consistent about this practice and your roommate will start doing a little more to clean up their messes.  Keep in mind, BOB, that it will take time for such bad habits to reform into good ones so in the mean time console yourself with the progress you've made and take pleasure in the extra cat food you get to eat.

Buenos can help solve your roommate issues too.  Just ask away at buenos@stevesword.com.

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