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My bf (26/m) let his cat play around with one of his fish as punishment after it attacked the other fish in the tank. I’m (23/f) horrified by this ......


Jan. 12, 2020

For reference, I’ve never owned an animal of any kind before and thus, don’t know much about common house pets. My bf grew up raising all kinds of animals (reptiles, birds, fish, horses, etc) and definitely knows what he’s talking about. There are times I’ve questioned him and been utterly wrong every time, so I’ve learned to just back up and let him take care of his pets as he sees fit.
We used to argue about how he was raising his Bengal cat, specifically how he punishes it for misbehaving. Sometimes the cat will attack me very roughly, I think as a show of dominance since he NEVER does it with anyone else or when anyone else is in the room (or maybe bc he’s bored, as my bf told me bengals have more energy and need to be played with moreso than most other cats). If my bf hears it (I usually am yelling at the cat to get off my leg), he retaliates by picking the cat up and putting him in the sink and running water all over him until he’s soaked. When he climbs up onto surfaces he shouldn’t be on (the table, countertops) my bf will yell at him to get down and if he doesn’t, he’ll get up and push him off the table. I know cats are sturdy and can handle these things, but it just feels unnecessary to me and a bit rough. I don’t think that the cat associates these punishments with his bad behaviour at all, hence why he continues to do these things...
But last night I think my bf crossed a line. He has an aquarium containing cichlids and a plecostamus. We recently bought two oscars and they’ve been getting bullied by one of the cichlids. We watched closely and were hoping the behavior would stop but the cichlid continued terrorizing not only the oscars but other cichlids as well (aggressively biting tails, eating one of the fish’s babies, etc). So last night my bf decides to take him out of the tank and place him in “solitary confinement” (a giant bowl of water) for the night. We had been drinking a little bit and two of his friends were over, so we were all a bit tipsy and I quickly forgot about the fish...until I noticed the cat messing with the bowl. I asked my bf to please move the fish somewhere the cat wouldn’t mess with it, but he instead sat the bowl on the floor of the living room and watched with his friends, laughing as the cat pawed at the fish. I was clearly distressed about it and told them it wasn’t funny. My bf said “you know the cat won’t hurt it, he’s just being inquisitive” but I’m sure the fish was distressed, as well.
After about 15 min of having to watch his cat toy with the fish, my bf picked up the bowl and flushed the fish down the toilet. I was shocked. I will say that the fish have since seemed much happier. They no longer hide as much behind rocks and plants and they look much more colorful and healthy. But what my bf did seems beyond cruel, imo. I tried expressing this to him and he and his friends laughed it off, saying the fish wasn’t harmed at all and that it was necessary in order to keep the others safe and healthy.
What do you guys think? I didn’t want to intervene completely, since they are his pets, but now I feel guilty for not taking action sooner. How do I let my bf know that I respect his ability to properly raise his own pets but that what he did was (I think) cruel and crossed a line?
tl;dr: my bf let his cat toy around with one of his pet fish after it bullied the other fish in the tank all week, nearly killing one. I told him he crossed a line and he says I’m being too soft.
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