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Woman bans SIL from seeing kids after prank; MIL says 'cut her some slack.' AITA?

Woman bans SIL from seeing kids after prank; MIL says 'cut her some slack.' AITA?


"AITA for how I responded to my SIL’s prank?"

I am deathly afraid of cats. There wasn’t ever an “incident”. They just terrify me. My husband loves cats and had one of his own during his childhood. He knows how afraid I am of them though and will “protect” me every time we visit someone that has a cat.

He understands my fear and decided pretty early on that he prefers me to having a cat. His sister can not comprehend this. She’s always talking about how unfair and selfish I’m being and that her brother deserves to have a cat. I just ignore her.

One thing she’s started to do is tell my kids how great cats are and how they’re missing out and should beg me to get them one. My kids are very young and easily influenced and have been asking me for a cat for weeks now. I almost gave in and visited my sister in law to try and pet her cat but I freaked out and had a panic attack the second it looked at me.

Well we were having dinner at my sister in law’s house. The cat was playing with the kids while the adults were sitting in the living room. I was stuck to my husband as simply knowing that a cat is in my area makes me feel sick.

All of a sudden my son calls me over saying that he needs me. He was in this small storage sort of room for some reason. Obviously I go inside and he starts giggling and then something brushes past me and it was the cat. I was f**king terrified and screamed. I began to cry, hyperventilate and I can’t even remember what happened. I almost vomited too but my husband heard and helped.

Turns out, my sister in law decided it would be funny to make my kid think that pranking me with the cat would be funny. Obviously it wasn’t. She thought it was though and tried giving my son a high five for doing a good job.

I was just so over it and I ended up telling my SIL that I hate her and her stupid f**#ing cat and that she’s no longer allowed around my kids. She immediately started to cry and said that she just thought my fear of cats was silly and that if she made my kids show me, then I’d be more understanding.

She didn’t think I’d act like that in front of my kids (like I can control my reaction??). She said that she understands me hating her but I’m being unfair for not letting her see her nephews.

I just told her that she has her cat. She’s been really upset and has called me everything you can think of. My MIL is asking that I think about this some more and that I should cut her some slack. AITA for my harsh response to her “prank”?


Yes, I have tried therapy and have done things such as figuring out the root cause, discussing reasons, setting short term goals, helpful techniques etc etc. I really wanted to fulfill my husband’s dream of having a cat. But while I got some useful information, I still cannot touch cats or be too close to them. I can be in their presence now though!

I’m not ready for professional intervention. I have done other types of therapy such as setting short term goals, trying to figure out the root issue etc etc and all that’s left is exposure but i can’t do that. I really do think I might die of a heart attack if I’m forced to touch a cat against my will again.

From the comments:

Thebestaround555 writes:

Soft YTA. I don’t think there’s any way your SIL could have known your reaction would be so extreme. Many people are afraid of things, but do not start hyperventilating and freaking out uncontrollably at the sight of them. While pranking in general is a little naughty, it’s not the worst behavior in the world.

For instance, I hate cockroaches, but I would never have that extreme of a reaction to seeing one. What you described, is so extreme a reaction, especially to a harmless creature, that it’s pretty unreasonable to think anyone could anticipate such a reaction. Also you said “like I can control my reaction??”, umm yes you indeed can.

Maybe not the immediate jump and fear but everything after that you can. It sounds like you were pretty mean after the fact, and while she might have been wrong to scare you, I think you should recognize she probably didn’t have a clue you would react so strongly. Very soft YTA though because you are entitled to phobias, but you can react better.

Thebestaround555 writes:

I understand you cannot stop the immediate panic, I respect that. I may have misread but it sounded like you yelled at your SIL after calming down, sorry if that’s a misinterpretation.

Seriously, how do you think a decision like this would age even ten years down the line, let alone 30 when they’ll be adults and have to question why their mother would do something so extreme?

“Oh hey kids, you know this woman your dad grew up with and is a close relative of yours, yeah you’re never allowed to know her because she put a cat near me once.” Do you think that’s fair to your children or their aunt?

pickledcheese14 writes:

ESH- You SIL crossed the line with that prank, people's fears should not be the subject of a prank.

Saying she's not allowed around your kids is an overreaction to her making a mistake. Also, as others have stated, this level of fear is interfering with going to other people's houses, and with your ability to live your life, you should see a licensed professional.


….ESH. Look your sister did a bad thing and some distance between her and your family is clearly needed.

However, your fear of cats is silly. I’m not saying you need to be able to go get one but you need to get it under control enough that being exposed to one doesn’t push you into a fib wrong mesh.

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