We’ve all heard horror stories about stepsisters and terrible mothers-in-law. We might even go so far as to imagine how we might take our revenge against them.
But there is such a thing as taking the revenge too far, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Throwawaystolencat was accused of going too far by pressing charges against her mother-in-law for breaking into her home while she was away.
But when her mother-in-law stole her cat, the Original Poster (OP) saw no other choice.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for calling the cops on my MIL (mother-in-law) for stealing my cat?”
The OP thought her mother-in-law had a negative impact on her partner.
“My (20 Female) mother-in-law or MIL (63 Female) can be very overdramatic when I’m involved in certain things.”
“She’s a bit of a control freak about everything regarding my partner (21 Male).”
“My partner is a bit naive when it comes to the real world as she has sheltered him from most of it.”
“He moved out last year for school and she has been trying to ruin his life over the phone.”
“But he has asked chiefly for advice from me since she doesn’t offer the best advice.”
They also inherited a cat from her partner’s late grandmother.
“Also, last year, he lost his grandmother to Alzheimer’s.”
“She left behind a cat that we took in and affectionately named Noodle. We have had her for almost a year now.”
The mother-in-law did not agree with the arrangements they made during a trip.
“My partner and I went on vacation for spring break and, since none of our friends could look after her, we left Noodle by herself for a few days.”
“She had bird videos, more than enough food, and more than enough water. She has been left alone for a lot longer by my partner’s parents and aunt, who she had lived with before.”
“So, the day that we were supposed to come home from our trip, we had our car broken into, and they stole my partner’s camera, and my house and car keys, as well as my ID.”
“We then spent the day trying to find our belongings and the entire time, his mom (my MIL) was calling us and complaining about us leaving the cat.”
“When we told her about the break-in and theft, neither of his parents seemed to care that we felt as violated as we did. All they cared about was us going back to our cat.”
The mother-in-law escalated the situation.
“Finally, as we were giving up our search, he got another call from his mom.”
“She was angry and started calling us cruel to leave Noodle for 3 days.”
“We got mad and asked her why she cared more about a cat who doesn’t even really care that we are gone than her kid who had his property stolen and their DIL who had her HOUSE AND CAR KEYS STOLEN.”
“She hung up on us after saying she was gonna come to get the cat.”
“I texted her and said that if I got back home and my cat was gone, I’d call the cops. I didn’t get a reply.”
“Well, we got home, and lo and behold, our cat is gone as well as her food bowl and all the things we bought her.”
“I called my MIL and asked if she had Noodle. I didn’t even need an answer from her as I could hear my cat yowling.”
“I told her if she didn’t bring her back, I would call the cops. She hung up on me.”
“Well, I called the cops, they went to her house and got my cat back, and also charged her with theft.”
The family didn’t appreciate the OP’s actions.
“I’m getting messages from his family saying I took it too far and that I should have just gone and gotten the cat, but I know this woman.”
“She would have called the cops on me if I had gone to her house.”
“But the reason I may be TA is that she may face jail time if I press charges, and she suffers from mental illness.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some insisted on teaching the MIL that actions do have consequences.
“NTA. She broke your boundaries and is paying the consequences. She fu**ked around and found out.” – ducksmomma
“Go to the district attorney and request mandatory therapy and psychological evaluation. She sounds like a helicopter Mom who is crashing. What you say to the district attorney really can help in how the charges are handled.”
“She is your MIL. She is not going to disappear and if the district attorney decides to pursue the case, this could be a moment toward healing.” – BodyDense
“Um. Is there any chance your MiL was behind the car break-in? I made the connection but were you guys holidaying far enough away that there’s no way it was her?”
“NTA and press charges, she needs to learn actions have consequences. If you back down then whatever she pulls next will be an escalation and so much worse.” – Sabatiea
“NTA. MIL and those who are messaging you are. Let’s run through the facts: She said she was going to steal from you. You warned her that you would call the cops if she did steal from you. And she stole from you anyway.”
“Maybe if she gets jail time, she’ll think twice before stealing from you again. Dropping the charges isn’t doing you or her any favors.”
“Also, I’ve got to ask: WTF is she doing with your house key? Or did she commit B&E (breaking and entering) as well as theft of property?”
“If she got into your home by using a key she had been given, change all the locks or face future violations.”
“If she committed B&E to get in, be sure they include that in their charges against her.” – TheFlamingSquirrel
“Change all the locks. Remember OP’s house keys were stolen. Even if she got them back, they could have been copied and her driver’s license has her address on it.”
“Change the locks. Don’t give MIL a key. Freeze/replace all your credit/debit cards that were in your wallet and do a credit freeze.”
“Your MiL is not going to serve hard time for stealing a cat. But she did commit theft after being warned multiple times.”
“If she gets prosecuted at all, you can voice a therapy vs jail opinion as the plaintiff/victim. Otherwise, let her deal with the consequences of her actions.”
“Next time you go out of town, don’t tell her.” – EconomyVoice7358
Others encouraged the OP to involve her partner in the decision.
“You should let your partner take the lead on deciding whether to press charges. As flawed as she is, she’s still his mom. If he later regrets pressing charges, he might grow to resent you or feel like you made him do it, and it might ruin your relationship.” – Legally_Blonde_258
“NTA. She will definitely do something like this again if she gets away with it, and couple’s counseling might help your partner acknowledge exactly how awful what she did really was.” – AdrianeKay
“Have you told him that you’re upset he is so calm about his mom’s dangerous behavior, that she does multiple things to hurt you? That you’ve done nothing other than being nice to her and she treats you like an enemy? Have you told him?” – sidTAlmighty
Some took issue with how long the OP left Noodle home alone.
“ESH. You say you leave your cat alone for longer than three days with no one to watch her when you could just hire a professional or bring her to a cat boarding facility where she will be cared for.”
“Leaving an animal alone with no one to check up or care for her is just negligent. It would be one thing if someone came by once a day but you just say Noodle is left alone.”
“Your MIL should not have stolen the cat but it’s not up to you to police her feelings either. She is allowed to care about the welfare of a sentient animal over stolen non-sentient stuff.”
“Change your locks and keys so your MIL can’t just come into your house but also take better care of your cat. Hire a professional pet sitter or someone to at least check up on Noodle once a day rather than just leaving her alone for days on end.” – wolfpupower
“Just because cats don’t wag their tails and lick your face doesn’t mean they aren’t living beings who need the presence of others. Cats are very social. Leaving them alone for five days is cruel. You should know that.” – Carl__Gordon_Jenkins
“Cats are actually highly social creatures. They normally live in large colonies in the wild, they’re not solitary creatures at all.”
“People tend to think this because cats socialize in a way that most people aren’t used to. Just sitting in the same room as you, or next to you, or with their back turned to you, is a way they show you’re a part of their colony.”
“When they’re unhappy, they tend to get destructive or aggressive, which too many people think is just ‘normal a**hole cat behavior.'”
“Or, what are two major signs of depression? Over-eating and over-sleeping, which are not exactly easy to pick up on in a cat unless you know them well. This is why there’s a big push to adopt cats in pairs at least, especially if you work full time and are away from a large portion of the day.”
“I would leave my cats alone together overnight, but no longer than that.” – Piebandit
“I am shocked by the amount of people that think it’s cool just to shut a cat in solitary confinement for days, ‘I’ve always owned cats and they’ve been fine.’ … A big ol’ yikes to that.”
“You want something that you can just leave at home with some water for five days? Get a houseplant.” – Kitchu22
“5 days alone is cruel. Just because you think she is fine because she is still alive after 5 days of being left alone, does not mean she didn’t care. Do you know she wasn’t yowling the whole time you weren’t home?”
“Alive does not equal OK. Yes, cats can be solitary, but if their usual is to have people (or other pets) around, then being left alone for 5 days would be very stressful.”
“H**l, I feel bad leaving mine overnight.”
“Yes, I fully admit they’re spoiled (and WFH has made their life so cushy), and yes, they sleep an awful lot, but they are very social (bathroom breaks are a group activity).”
“So whilst I could leave them with cat tv, food, and water for many days, I won’t. I factor in a pet sitter (live in) in my holiday budget, just like I would travel or food.”
“I think ESH here. OP for leaving that adorable kitty alone for 5 days. I know this was longer than anticipated, but what pushed me to the ESH is that there was more importance put on finding belongings (which could be replaced by insurance), rather than the health and wellbeing of a living creature, and the general ‘she was fine and my property’ attitude.”
“The MIL, and the rest of the family is s**tty here for not just making sure Noodle was safe rather than taking her and holding her hostage.” – finelytunedradar
While the OP was receiving messages from family, criticizing her for pressing charges, the subReddit understood that she needed her mother-in-law to understand that actions have consequences.
But perhaps, they argued, the OP needed to learn that, as well, so she wouldn’t leave her cat unattended next time.