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When a couple splits, they should do what’s best for pets

Q: My husband and I are divorcing, and both of us want our three cats, Tic, Tac and Toe. While they are litter mates, Tic and Tac are strongly bonded to each other, but Toe seems happy with them or by himself.

We’re talking about joint custody, which would involve periodically moving the cats from one home to the other. An alternative option is to split up the cats, with my husband taking Toe. What do you recommend?

A: The American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers estimates that pet custody disputes arise in 15 percent of divorce cases, so you are not alone. As in child custody decisions, you must do what is best for your pets.

Unlike dogs, most cats don’t like to move from home to home, so I suggest you let your cats settle into one home.

These three litter mates may be more bonded than you think, and it’s always best for pets to remain with their friends. If Toe doesn’t play with Tic and Tac at all, it may be possible to separate them. However, it sounds like he does socialize with them, so it’s probably best to keep all three cats together.

If that’s the case, the cats should live with the parent to whom they’re more tightly bonded, and the other parent should visit them.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at

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