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I joined because I was taking care of my mom, but my aging in-laws came into focus in the last couple of years as well. My MIL (93), an incredibly kind person, passed away in March. My FIL (87) is still around. Before she died, he was (with my husband's help) taking care of her. She was the household manager. She kept things tidy, paid the bills, did the taxes. Six months before she died, he began exhibiting signs of needing help too. He had a car accident, a couple of blown tires, and the home was starting to look uncharacteristically dirty and cluttered. At that point she spent most of her day sleeping in her recliner.


One day he just wouldn't get out of bed. He just refused and said he was fine and didn't want to go to the doctor despite not feeling well. When he refused to get out of the bed the next day (he was also saying some pretty crazy things), the hubs called an ambulance and he spent the next few days in the hospital with a UTI and prostate issue. He couldn't pass the swallowing test and refused any additional intervention and was sent home on hospice which ended three months later once he was fine.


When MIL died, the hubs and I did not feel he could live alone without help. He was forgetting to refill medications, missing doses, not handling the finances, not taking care of the home, and he was falling for people who call on the phone. He also had a fall out in the neighborhood while walking. We decided that the best course for him would be to move in with him and hubs stays with his dad all day.


Moving with us were our two cats. He's had a cat before. He talks fondly of that cat. He pets the neighbor's cat that comes to his back door. For some reason, he keeps chasing our cats. He corners them and makes sudden movements at them, shuffles his feet at them, shakes the chair when they are under the table to scare them, and claps at them. He keeps saying he's going to put them outside. He will then try to pet them, and says he wants them to like him. He meows at them (literally, he says "meow"). The cats are terrified of him. We asked him to stop, he said he thought it was funny. The hubs tells him not to do it, "I will if I want to". And then he plays dumb like he doesn't understand. "Really? You're not supposed to do that? Gee, I'm just a dumb old man. I don't know". I don't get it. And I'm at a loss. I know he likes his bits of what he thinks is funny. The husband says that when I'm not there he's better, but he amps up the behavior when I'm home to get a reaction out of me. I can't ignore him bullying a defenseless animal.


We moved in to help him so he wouldn't have to pay for caregiving help and preserve his resources. It was for his benefit not ours. We were happy in our own home. Now I dread going home from work every day. Any insight would be helpful. How do I get this guy to stop bullying these two very sweet cats? If he'd stop terrifying them, with time they'd probably come sit in his lap.

“Your cats are terrified of him”. That shows this isn’t just roughhousing that the animals enjoy...this is perverse behavior. There are ways to treat animals...some ways are not just different, but wrong. This is one of them. I would not feel safe allowing my cats around him. Cornering a cat to the extent your husband had to “distract him” so you could nab and remove the cat? That is just bizarre behavior. And what would happen if you're not there and he's mean to it like this? What if the cat lashes out and scratches or bites him, which is very possible. What would he do to it? Would he still think it’s funny, or would he kick it across the room, or worse? I don’t care what his motives are for this behavior, you and your husband need to put a stop to it in no uncertain terms, and if you can’t I’d make other arrangements. For him.
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Gabbygirl Dec 7, 2018
Thank you, rocketjcat. Actually, that has been my exact concern. What does he do when we're not there (which is not often)? My husband stays home with him all day. Sometimes we have errands to run, or we'll go out to dinner by ourselves. It's usually only for an hour. At the moment, we're talking about setting up cameras in the house. I have granny cams in my mother's apartment (at her doctor's request) to check on her throughout the day. We may do the same set up to see what's going on when we're not there.

I do fear that his aggressiveness could turn to a kick, or him even just opening the back door and turning them loose.

I agree, this has to stop. The hubs has agreed to schedule him for an evaluation for dementia. Perhaps there is something going on medically we're not aware of that is contributing to the inappropriate behavior. We have to do something, though.
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Move back to your home and let him move into AL. He may not be able to control his behavior even though to you he should be able to. What he is doing is cruel and abusive to your cats. If you absolutely will not separate yourselves from him see if medication might help his behavior. Personally I wouldn’t stand for anyone treating my pet or another's in that manner. He will forever change the trust of your cats. If he has resources then let him use them. You shouldn't have to dread going home. Why is his mental health more important than yours? AskYourself that!
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I have pets and if anyone abused them I would be showing the person the door.

And yes I did tell a guest to leave my house when they behaved inappropriately with my cats. I also reprimanded my late stepdad’s daughter when she got uppity with Mum’s dog.
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MountainMoose Dec 6, 2018
I adamantly agree. If my mom had terrorized my dogs and refused to stop when I moved into her house for the sole purpose of caring for her, I'd move out. Period. If there was no one else to care for her then there'd be no choice for her to go to a nursing home.
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Reading your OP carefully, I notice that although you speak of “needing help”, but then describing quite a long list of behaviors that are quite far outside of the realm of “ability to manage without consistent, ongoing management”.

If your sole reason for moving into his home was intended to be helpful to him, you may be at a point at which you will have to consider that he is no longer able to benefit from the level of care that you are able to provide.

He has shown you in several ways that his cognitive level is no longer functioning efficiently enough to allow him to self manage living in the situation you are providing. He is not happy, you are not happy, and your cats are not happy.

Whether or not he is willing to cooperate with efforts to provide safe, comfortable arrangements for his care, or chooses (if he is able to MAKE logical choices) NOT to cooperate, you are facing the necessity of using some of his personal financial resources to determine the seriousness of his current mental status, and dealing with it.

NOBODY HERE who has had to make this decision for a LO and live with it is ever happy about it, and I’m sure that there are many who get sick of reading my comment that life as a caregiver as ALWAYS having a bunch of lousy choices to make, and making the best choice among those lousy choices.

I sympathize with your concern about the kitties, but his overall profile seems to be indicating that it’s really the elephant in the living room that needs your immediate attention.

Please research ALL OPTIONS, including residential care, and be super cautious about leaving him alone with them.
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Adult day care is a good option, this can help him not be bored to death. That may be part of why he is tormenting the cats and you. He lives for the reaction. Do your best not to say anything to him, just walk over and pick up your cats to remove them from his torment. The less reaction from you removes his fun to a degree. I agree with other posters that if the cats can be separated from him in the house without making them totally isolated that is good. If possible give them some high places that they can go to, to get away from the shuffling feet. A cat tree with a few well placed shelves can accomplish this. They can go from cat tree and up higher if they want to. More than one around the house might be good also, that option would allow them to pick their favorite spots and still be part of the family activity. FIL might actually grow to like them and watch them moving around the shelves without tormenting them. I wish you the best.
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Another narrative (take or leave it): It may not be YOU he hates, but the situation. He can't get directly angry with you and hubs, because you seem so concerned and want to help... but the resentment has to go somewhere. He refers to himself as a stupid old man because he thinks that YOU believe that he's stupid. It's very hard for him to admit to himself that he's failing and making poor decisions. He may be trying to drive you away by attacking you through your pets.
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I’m kinda on SafetySarahs wavelength.
Its not the cats per se. The cats = you.
If you and those pussies were gone, his life would be just great.
It would be just him and his son in his home.

I think here could be the tipping point for your marriage. On just Whose side IF to came down to the nut cut, would hubs take? If you said to hubs that it was a mistake to move there and you want to find a new home or apt for just you & hubs, would hubs do it?
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Gabbygirl Dec 7, 2018
Without any doubt in my mind or heart, I know my husband would take my side in that argument. When his father was hospitalized last year he was staying down with his parents (his mom was still living) full time and it was difficult on both of us being apart. If it came down to it, it would really be a question of what to do with his dad. Use his money to hire caregivers for him at home or place him in a facility? Living separately has never been an option on the table for either of us. We are a united front both with his dad and my mother. More than likely the conversation would be... I'm not asking my wife to leave. It's both of us or neither of us. End of story.
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I think your FIL doesn't like you, so he's bullying your cats to piss you off. He's a bully. A bully only backs down when you stand up to him and bully him back. That's how you make him stop.
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Gabbygirl Dec 6, 2018
I never got the impression over the years that he didn't like me. But perhaps you are right. There might be some resentment of us moving in, even if we are there to help him. I've been respectful to him since it is his home. But maybe I need to adjust that method. I can try being more assertive in my interactions with him. Thanks for the advice.
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I agree. I wouldn't start making excuses for him that this is how he interacts with animals like some have said. I don't think animals like being cornered and have to have a safe room. That's ridiculous.

If this is how he interacts with animals then he shouldn't be around them, own them, period.
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Isthisrealyreal Dec 8, 2018
Like some have said, people interact differently with animals and he is not hurting them, he is in his poor way trying to get them to play. But not everyone plays as nice as others.

Animals feed off of their humans vibes, that's the hard thing to get over, not feeding the behaviors by being upset, it only increases it. As the posters stated.
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MOVE HIM OUT! THERE IS NO WAY I WOULD ALLOW SOMEONE RELATED OR NOT TO TREAT MY ANIMALS THIS WAY! IT'S CRUEL! THIS HAS TO STOP PERIOD! MAKING MY BLOOD BOIL JUST THINKING ABOUT IT. ANIMAL ABUSE.
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Isthisrealyreal Dec 9, 2018
They live in HIS house! They can't kick him out.
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