Judge John Hodgman Episode 195: The Grandfather Claws


Josh brings the case against his partner Melanie. They recently moved in together and share a house with Josh's aging cat. Josh says the cat is like family to him, and should be afforded certain privileges and comforts. Melanie insists that the cat is not a family member, and that Josh's coddling has to stop. Who's right? Who's wrong? Only one man can decide.

Thanks to Tessa Klettl-Keller for this week's case name!



Submitted by Josh

Photo of Josh and Melanie

"The Cheat in a Place"

"The Cheat Infringing"


Zero Sum Game

You said not to dare correct you, but it must be done. A zero sum game means that the gains to one party are exactly offset by the losses by another- gains to A = losses to B, or the sum of the payoffs is zero. "A game where one person gets 1 and the other gets zero" is incorrect, and "where one person gets all they want and the other gets nothing they want" is also not correct.

It is certainly possible in this case to make a decision that would make both people worse off, or to make the both worse off, or to help one a little and hurt the other badly-- none of these would be zero sum.


This episode may have the most comments of them all. Soooo funny. My husband keeps asking what I'm laughing at. I love cats AND British humour!

Don't go down this road

I would add that these people are exactly the sort that the JJHO show should avoid: over-the-top terrible people who love to shock people with their melodrama and efforts at humor. There are already enough shows about fake people with fake problems who desperately want attention.

Don't go down this road, comment

I would add that these comments are exactly the sort that the JJHO show-comment section should avoid: over-the-top, terrible comments that love to shock people with melodrama and efforts at humor. There are already enough comments about fake comments with fake problems who desperately want to comment. Comment, comment, comment.

Horrid couple

I usually start off disliking one or both of the litigants, and over the course of the episode I soften, mainly because JJHO is skilled at bringing out the humanity in people. This time, however, I started off loathing both of these horrid people, and ended up loathing them just as much. While I resented the forever-lost portion of my life that I spent listening to their vapid, venomous ramblings, I experienced a giddy thrill at the end when I realized that I would never have to spend another moment doing it. Silver lining!


I laughed and laughed. As a matter of fact, I steered people who have never listened to JJH to this podcast. Melanie is hysterical and dry. It was great to hear everyone laugh at her "having a baby with ANYONE" comment. You can't write that! lol

Overruled by Appeal Court Judge Gary, even as a cat non-fan

Melanie and Josh, stop testing each other's love! Melanie thinks Josh loves the cat more than her - of course he doesn't, but he does love the cat more than he loves her convenience or clothes.

If the hilarious Melanie could but see this, she could probably get over the hatred of the hair and the dirt box. They have become erroneously representative of his supposed lack of love for her.

Luckily, somehow Josh DOESN'T see the fact that Melanie hates his cat as proof that she loves her clothes and own convenience more than him, or appreciate his loving, loyal, responsible qualities. "Doesn't she want me to have the love of the cat?" He might think. If he thought the same way as Mel, their relationship would be toast.

Melanie, see how you're setting him a test to fail, whereas he is extending you the understanding that your hatred for the cat is NOT lack of love for the real him? So repay the favor.

The cat is a responsibility Josh took on long ago. Melanie, you are an adult human and so should be able to deal with cat hair and a cat on your bed, which millions (including the cat-indifferent) deal with daily.

I don't see why the cat has to go if she has a baby. Millions have cats and babies and nobody is dead. This problem is going to come up so talk about it now, guys! Toxoplasmosis notwithstanding, half the problems in this podcast seem to stem from a mistaken idea that tiny amounts of germs around the home cause sickness and death.

Judge John - OBVIOUSLY Josh was not winding her up with the photos, he was trying to provide humorous evidence for a comedy podcast, just as Melanie is pretty funny.

Are you all depth to humour?

I came here to see people taking every word Melanie said at face value, obviously completely missing her dry humour. She doesn't really want to kill the cat, guys. Take down the pitch forks and go and watch some british telly instead.

Melanie is HOT

Maybe it says a lot about me but I find Melanie to be strangely attractive. Attractive in the same way a cat is attractive as a pet. It's like jumping through hoops to gain affection.

Josh - assuming the characters on the episode are real, consider that once the pussy cat is tamed, there will not be much of a challenge for you.

Love the show.

P.S. I have been looking for football sticks everywhere but can't find them. Do you know of any good football store that may carry them?

I can't even finish this

I can't even finish this episode, Melanie's personality is just way too abrasive.

Admitting that you're weak is

Admitting that you're weak is the first step.

Melanie is hilarious. Give

Melanie is hilarious. Give her a podcast, Jesse. I'm pre-subscribing.

abrasive and cold

Everyone is taken by Melanie's dry cold hatred?!

Being dry and "truthful" doesn't replace being kind and understanding.

Bah to her and her fans here

Or have Melanie come back as

Or have Melanie come back as an expert witness. She's the best.

Irreconcilable differences

Even when the cheat passes on, josh will always be a cat person. ... I think when he wants to get the next pet, Melanie will refuse or manipulate him into not having one. Even if he loves Melanie more than animals, should he have to sacrifice having a cat the rest of his life to be with her? Should she have to live with an animal when she hates them?

As josh is an avid animal lover, I think it is a mistake for him to be with someone who so vehemently hates animals. These two have irreconcilable differences and should move on. Having a baby is no solution.

Love me, love my pet

Seriously, regardless of what kind of pet owner Josh is, he loves that animal. Why would he ever want to be with a woman who dislikes animals as vehemently as Melanie does? And, if she truly hid her feelings about the cat for the past two years of dating, I'd hate her for lying to me. Lying is one of my relationship deal-breakers, along with "love me, love my dog." I see this as a critical difference that can't be resolved. Especially by a freaking BABY! As the judge said (paraphrasing), "great reason to procreate!" Ugh.

You understand sarcasm... (<----sarcastic comment)

I think many people are taking Melanie's personal brand of humor too seriously. JJHO and Jesse are most definitely good people and know that having a child to rid their personal life of a cat and agreeing with Melanie is so obviously a joke. These shows are supposed to entertain you, not disgust you. Maybe you need just a new Maxfun show that can actually be taken literally.

I love cats & Melanie is great

You all are being butts; Melanie would probably not be giving him a hard time if he:
a. Wasn't letting strange cats in the house
b. Changing the litter only when she complains enough
c. Taking photos of the cat sitting on her pillow licking itself
d. Taking photos of the cat in her clothing drawer
e. Not properly cleaning up after the cat and the fur of the cat

Yes, she sounds quite acerbic and a little bitter; I think she has a good sense of humor and has put up with really sloppy, lazy cat ownership by her boyfriend for a long time.

The judge made a great ruling! Well done.


I continued to chuckle even when it was over. I liked how Melanie really seemed to say what she felt even if I did not agree with her ideas. Cheaters is a beautiful cat! and not what I expected after listening to both of the litigants. I have two long haired cats that live indoors, so I have become an expert on dealing with cat hair! I would like to recommend a cordless vacuum made by a Japanese company M*****. This vacuum has a surprising amount of suction and because it is cordless and light weight it is a so fast and easy to clean up the hair. Anitra Frazier has written an excellent book on cats, Josh should check it out.

I hate both of these people

Melanie is a sociopath and Josh is a terrible cat owner. Even if you have an indoor/outdoor cat, you need a litter box and it isn't going to be full frequently. Also, old cats that get beat up and doesn't come back in when they want don't belong outside the house. There's a time when you leave them inside.

And, if you're going to raise your cat as an indoor/outdoor, you stop letting them in the bedroom early. They pick up dirt, fleas, and other parasites that don't belong in your bed.

I'm wondering whether they're just exaggerating their case for fun. Melanie is a sociopath and Josh is a terrible cat owner. Even if you have an indoor/outdoor cat, you need a litter box and it isn't going to be full frequently. Also, old cats that get beat up and doesn't come back in when they want don't belong outside the house. There's a time when you leave them inside.

And, if you're going to raise your cat as an indoor/outdoor, you stop letting them in the bedroom early. They pick up dirt, fleas, and other parasites that don't belong in your bed.

I'm wondering whether they're just exaggerating their case for fun.

"He loves the cat more than me!"

Yeah. Wonder why.

puzzled about John

His podcast is on a network called maximumfun, but the judge does not want people having fun while on his podcast like Melanie (and Josh) were?


She's horrible. Aggressively unpleasant; it's hard to even listen to this hostile woman. Ruuuuuuuuun Josh!

Oh wow, I can't believe

Oh wow, I can't believe Melanie is for real. Someone who has such disdain for animals genuinely worries me, as a sign of potential cruelty to people as well.

Please, do not procreate, lady. You will likely find you may disdain your own child for being so dirty and crawling with germs.

Future British Panelist

I predict that Melanie will give Sean Lock a run for his money on 8 Out of 10 Cats.

The Cheat was around first.

The Cheat was around first. Melanie needs to go. She's just an awful person. I can't figure out why an animal lover would ever be with someone like that in the first place.



Melanie and Josh...

I can understand how the cat could be a nuisance, but Josh shouldn't be dating Melanie.

No one should date Melanie.

No one should date Melanie. She should be locked up.

Terrible cat owner + cat hater = disaster waiting to happen

First, why are we not calling out Josh for letting his cat run the streets? Of course it has fleas and probably other parasites, I would not want that infested wreck on my pillow, either! Take care of Cheat, keep him indoors, treat his fleas and get him dewormed. Teach him manners (like always using the litter box).
Second, Melanie will never tolerate the cat, so I think this is a relationship which is doomed. This is a fundamental incompatibility, just like smoking or being Libertarian. Adding a baby? More poop, more cleaning, more arguments. By Meanie's logic (not my cat, not my job) will ALL the child care duties be her's? (Not my uterus, not my problem)

This Woman is a Monster.

I'm forced to say that listening to Melanin is very cringe inducing. Her bitterness, hatred, and open viciousness is terribly vile. Josh should break up with this woman who wants to live in his home and drive him from something that's been part of his life for a decade. I can't believe that the Judge was joking when he called her a monster.

Melanie needs to be a

Melanie needs to be a panelist on 8 out of 10 cats.

Eesh. Why are these two

Eesh. Why are these two together? They admit they fight all the time and their fundamental views on pets are incompatible. I'm terrified that thing about getting pregnant in order to manipulate Josh into getting rid of the cat is only partly a joke. Melanie should go her merry way and reproduce (or not) with someone who also hates all animals, leaving Josh and the Cheat to find someone who appreciates them.

Rift Racks?

Any link to the event mentioned at the end of the show? I believe it was called Rift Racks? Would love to see me some Judge John Hodgman.

It's RiffTrax! You can find

Having a hard time listening

This woman is awful. He should throw her out immediately.

the sum of that game is number two

The Cheat's posture in that picture tell me he's dropping a deuce in Melanie's drawer. And the look on his face. That look say's "watch me while I defecate on your socks." Trust me, I know that look.


This episode was one of the best ones yet, Holy Cat!
Melanie should run for President, Prime Minister or something. Her attitude and honesty has my vote.


I agree with the others who find Melanie monstrous. This is only the second episode of the podcast to which my reaction has been "DTMFA" (the first being the one a few months ago with the unfunny dude playing unfunny pranks on his girlfriend, and then insisting the problem is she doesn't like "fun"). I don't understand why these two would want to stay together, unless, as The Judge suggests, they just enjoy conflict.

This is going to be a hard

This is going to be a hard one to get through. That woman is just not pleasant. I don't even like cats.

Wasn't that a mis-use of "zero sum game"?

I'm pretty sure that a "zero sum game" would require that the benefit to one party comes at an exactly opposite cost to another? Otherwise it could possibly be a negative sum game. Or a positive sum game.

Great episode.

Even though she hates cats, Melanie still manages to wear leopard print (1st pic).
Awesome episode. Melanie was hilarious.

This woman is a monster. Why

This woman is a monster. Why did an animal lover allow himself to fall in love with her. She makes my skin crawl. In any case, Josh should clean that litter box every day, and break up with that woman.

Thoughts on the couple

Still listening to the episode. I am not a cat person. That said, Melanie is a monster.

The cheat is adorbs

The cheat is adorbs

This woman's a little awful.

I feel sorry for the baby which may replace The Cheat.


I think this is the first episode I couldn't listen to as one of the litigants literally wanted to kill a cat (or have it killed). Seriously, what a nightmare woman.

Battle Cat

I don't care for cats, plus I'm allergic to them. The Cheat is a cute cat; however I agree with the honorable judge and Melanie, he has no place in the bedroom especially in clothing. Josh seems like a sweet man...ease up Melanie, there are far worse traits for a partner to possess than a (borderline) unhealthy attachment to a pet.

Incredible podcast!

I haven't finished and I'm just cracking up!

It might just be the crazy cat lady in me, but...

I've listened to every episode of this podcast, and have pretty consistently found every person on it to be some degree of endearing or delightful, until Melanie. This case had me literally shaking with anger. What a loathesome monster.