Dear Annie: One of my sisters has a lovely cat, but when we go somewhere with her, the kitty litter odor is overwhelming. It clings to her clothing and follows her everywhere. My sister is highly sensitive to criticism, so we haven’t approached her about this. She probably doesn’t notice the smell because she lives with the odor every day.
We think she might be storing the sacks of unused litter in her closet with her coats, etc., and this is why it is so noticeable. She is an avid reader of your column, so we are hoping she will see this and realize the odor can be controlled if she simply keeps the litter stored in her garage. — Concerned Sister
Dear Concerned: Most unused kitty litter doesn’t have such a distinctive odor that it would be terribly noticeable, but nonetheless, it should not be stored near clothing, because clothes can absorb the odor of whatever is nearby. It’s also possible your sister keeps the actual litter box in her bedroom or closet, or perhaps she doesn’t clean it as often as she should.
We understand that she is sensitive to criticism, but don’t you think she would want to know that other people can smell her? Please bite the bullet and speak up. Tell her you are sure she’d want to know.
Dear Annie: I was married for 20 years when my husband left me for another woman. At first, I was upset, but in the intervening years, I have changed my mind. Please print this for her:
Dear Other Woman: I bet you thought you were the winner when my husband left to be with you. You have dealt with his drinking, pot smoking, heart disease, emphysema, baldness, toothless smile, erectile dysfunction and bad moods. You had to support him because he was chronically unemployed, and now you are his nursemaid 24/7.
Because of you, I have had the freedom to love, live and travel. I also drive a new car and paid off a home he didn’t want. I have enjoyed children and grandchildren. I thank you. You may have saved my life.
Women, if you think that man you want who belongs to someone else is a real prize, you haven’t seen the whole picture. — Grateful Granny
Dear Granny: We appreciate your voice of experience. More importantly, you have underscored that having a man in your life does not determine your level of happiness. Too many women believe otherwise.
Dear Annie: I am responding to “Not Unsympathetic,” whose granddaughter’s birthday parties are “ruined” by a 6-year-old autistic stepgrandson.
I am the mother of a child on the autism spectrum. While his autism is very mild and would not ruin family gatherings, I am sensitive to his issues. Many times, autistic children have a meltdown because the stimulation is too much for them. The sounds, smells and noise produce a fight-or-flight response. That is not the same thing as a tantrum, in which children become unruly because they aren’t getting their way.
The stepgrandson isn’t going to the party with the intent of ruining it. Try to imagine a situation in which the noise is too much, the colors too bright, the smells overwhelming, and there are some alien rules of behavior that you don’t understand. Try to hold it together under those circumstances at the age of 6.
When we’re out with our son, we do our best to anticipate what might cause a meltdown and try to avoid it. But sometimes we don’t know what’s going to trigger it. Your advice to have a separate family party sounds like a good start. — Not Unsympathetic to the Child
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.