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Teen Prioritizing Cat's Health Over Paying for Brother's Surgery Backed

Newsweek 11/15/2022 Jack Beresford
File photo of a man stroking a cat - a teen has come under fire from his family for putting his cat's needs ahead of his siblings. © Raphael Angeli/Getty File photo of a man stroking a cat - a teen has come under fire from his family for putting his cat's needs ahead of his siblings.

A 19-year-old pet owner has been accused of being "heartless" by his family after refusing to pay for his older brother's surgery because he needs the money in case his cat gets sick.

For some, pets are not just four-legged friends, but family. In a study of 1,000 pet-owning millennials in 2022, 57 percent said they loved their animal more than their sibling.

That might just explain the online response to one teen pet owner who took to Reddit to explain why they are refusing to help a family member in need. Writing under the handle Gaulle, the 19-year-old wrote that his brother broke his leg playing football and now needs money for surgery.

According to the post, his older sibling bullied him throughout their formative years. "He was always cruel, insulting me and hitting me whenever our parents weren't around," he wrote. "Eventually our parents found out, but they said he was only playing and 'didn't know his own strength.'"

So, when they came to him to ask if he could "help out," the poster decided to prioritize caring for his pet.

"I said no though because I am saving the money up for my university education and taking care of my cat," the Redditor wrote. "I told my brother that I need to keep the money, not only in case my cat gets sick and needs treatment, but to pay tuition." His response was not well received by the family, who accused him of being "heartless."

Cory Montfort, a licensed professional counselor supervisor and founder of The Montfort Group who specializes in family dilemmas, told Newsweek that, while the 19-year-old did not have to give his brother "a dime," there was no "whittling this sibling relationship down to the status of 'bully/victim' gives him too much power and yourself too little.

"It's understandable that you want to fast forward to the end of this story and disappear from your brother's life. However, I would encourage you to slow down, and not fall into the trap of telling yourself stories about who's wrong and who's right, who's giving and who's taking," Montfort said.

"A big part of your own self-acceptance depends on refusing to tell simple narratives that are rooted in shame. Lasting familial relationships develop from forgiveness of yourself first, and then spreading that compassion to the equally damaged loved ones around you."

But, while Montfort encouraged reconciliation, others on social media were less forgiving. Remote-Drummer-4923 wrote: "Good for you. You're doing the right thing. If the roles were reversed, he wouldn't have helped you."

Tradalyn told the poster to "hold your ground," adding: "Setting this boundary now, without giving an inch, is showing him that his bullying is over."

Hungrybuniker commented: "You only get one family. We get so little time with them so we need to make the most of it. So please, make sure you use that money for all the best cat toys and treats as kitty is the best member of your family and they sadly don't live as long as us."

Newsweek contacted Gaulle for comment but could not verify the details of the case.

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