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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My friend "Kayla" and I are 12 and in seventh grade. Recently, Kayla informed me that she has acquired a new boyfriend. I didn't mind when she showed me all his lovey-dovey texts. I thought they were adorable.

When I asked Kayla why her boyfriend didn't sit with us at lunch, she laughed and said, "Oh, he doesn't go to school here. He's a junior in high school." That's why I'm writing.

Kayla is telling me that she and "Jacob" are making out, and their texts are getting progressively worse. Plus, Kayla has said her parents are taking her and Jacob to a concert. The concert is out of town and they will be renting a hotel room. I'm worried for my friend.

Am I incorrect for thinking this is wrong? -- WORRIED FRIEND IN WASHINGTON STATE

DEAR WORRIED FRIEND: I agree with you that at 12, Kayla is too young to have a 16-year-old boyfriend. That her parents give her enough unsupervised time with him that they're involved in makeout sessions is also troubling. If this continues, Kayla could become pregnant and Jacob could be accused of statutory rape -- even if Kayla was a willing participant.

Talk to your mother about what's going on. She may want to chat with Kayla's parents about this and mention the texts Jacob is sending their daughter.

DEAR ABBY: I have a question that may seem odd, but I hope you can give me an answer.

I know children can tell when a parent favors one sibling over another. What about cats? I adopted two cats -- not littermates -- from a shelter. While I love them both, one drives me crazy and the other is a sweet lovebug. Naturally, I prefer the sweet, cuddly one.

Can the kitty that drives me nuts tell that I prefer his "sister" over him? -- LOVE 'EM BOTH, REALLY, ALBANY, N.Y.

DEAR LOVE 'EM BOTH: While I'm more of a people expert than an animal behaviorist, let me share this. Cats and dogs, after thousands of years of living so closely with us humans, are indeed sensitive to human emotions. They can tell when we're happy, when we are nervous and when we're depressed. If you lavish affection and/or treats on one and not the other, it can create jealousy.

You don't know the history of the cats you adopted. It's possible the one that makes you "crazy" had less human contact than "Lovebug" or was mistreated in some way. With patience and positive reinforcement he may come around, so please don't give up on him.

DEAR ABBY: One of my brothers, "Carl," walked away from our family 18 years ago. My parents are elderly and in poor health. When they pass, how do we refer to this sibling in the obituary? -- DRAWING A BLANK IN OHIO

DEAR DRAWING A BLANK: The entire family history does not have to be revealed in the obituary. All it should say is, "Survivors include: daughter Wendy, (husband, if there is one) of Ohio; son George, (wife); and son Carl." If you know where Carl is, include the information. If not, his name should be enough.

DEAR READERS: The year is almost over. Am I the only one who can't believe how fast it has gone? Incredible! From the bottom of my heart, I wish all of you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2012. If you plan on driving tonight, please don't drink. And if you'll be drinking tonight, please don't drive. Stay safe, everyone! -- LOVE, ABBY

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)