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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Chooses Cruel Answer to Question of Unwanted Cat

DEAR ABBY: My brother-in-law, "Ray," and his wife moved in with my husband's parents for a few months until they could get back on their feet. They have two small boys and a cat, "Precious," they have had since they were first married.

They looked for an apartment to rent, but could not find one that would allow pets. My mother-in-law, "Loretta," was anxious for them to move out, so she told them to take the apartment and she'd keep the cat at her home.

Shortly after, Loretta asked my husband to secretly get rid of it. (Her husband had refused.) When my husband said he couldn't do it, she took matters into her own hands, drove Precious 10 miles away from her house and dumped her on the side of the road.

Ray and the kids went to her home every day to set out milk and look for their kitty. They also checked with the local animal shelter. About 10 days later, they found Precious at the shelter. They had to pay to re-adopt her -- money they didn't have to spare. Not knowing what I know, they then returned their cat to Loretta!

Should I tell Ray the truth so they can rescue their cat, or keep mum so as not to make my mother-in-law angry by revealing the awful thing she did? -- ON THE FENCE IN NEVADA

DEAR ON THE FENCE: What your mother-in-law did was unconscionable. I don't know how many of Precious' nine lives were used up after she was abandoned, but house pets usually die from starvation, exposure, attacks by predators or encounters with vehicles after being dumped as she was.

If you can't bring yourself to tell your brother-in-law what happened to his furry family member, clip this and mail it to him with a note explaining that it contains an important message. After all, someone must speak for the voiceless.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I moved into a new home a few months ago. On our first night in our new residence, an emotionally disturbed relative came over and caused a scene which resulted in the police being called to have the person removed from our home. Since then, we have been shunned by our neighbors.

I was hoping for a friendly welcome, but I haven't gotten so much as a "hello," let alone a plate of cookies.

How should we handle this? I realize that because of the police incident, the neighbors may think we have domestic issues -- or worse. I don't know how to improve the bad impression that was created -- especially since it was not our fault. Please help. -- WAITING FOR THE WELCOME WAGON IN INDIANAPOLIS

DEAR WAITING: If you see a neighbor, smile, say hello and introduce yourself. As to "waiting for the welcome wagon," in many areas the custom of welcoming newcomers into the neighborhood has died out. So why not take the initiative, bake a couple of batches of cookies or buy some candy for the neighbors on either side of you and immediately across the street. Write a short note to be included with each, saying, "We apologize for not doing this sooner, but my husband and I were embarrassed by what happened the night we moved in. A relative caused the disturbance. We are very sorry you were inconvenienced. Sincerely, ___"

That should help you break the ice.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)