DEAR HARRIETTE: I agreed to take care of my friend's cat under the condition that I come once a day. This was completely manageable to me, but she apparently wanted me to stay for hours each day to play with the cat. I barely tolerate cats, let alone like them enough to spend hours luring them out of hiding to play with me. So I haven't been spending hours with the cat, but I have been telling my friend I have. Is this a breach of trust? I know dogs need socialization, but normally cats don't want anything to do with the stranger coming to feed them. -- Feeling Guilty, Ellicott City, Maryland
DEAR FEELING GUILTY: Of course, lying about how you are caring for your friend's cat is a breach of trust. The mistake your friend made was in not being crystal clear about what was expected in caring for the cat. Another mistake was not assessing who was the best person to be the cat's guardian in the owner's absence. It is irresponsible to give the responsibility of caring for an animal to someone who doesn't understand the animal or how to care for it.
You were wrong to lie about what you are doing for the cat. Immediately tell the truth. Be honest and let your friend know that you are not a cat lover, and that you agreed to care for the cat because you were trying to be a friend. Admit that you are unwilling to hang out with the cat on a daily basis. Suggest that you be replaced as soon as possible.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)