A long time ago, in an apartment precisely thirty-two blocks from my current home, I learned a life-lesson. I don’t like pets. At the time we had over a dozen hamsters at any given time, some rats, a parakeet or two, a couple rabbits and several cats.
Pets are daily chores and I have yet to convince one to admit that it actually can understand what I’m saying.
I love animals. I think they’re intriguing to watch and in most cases, each animal possesses a unique beauty. But, I’m not particularly fond of having animals in my house.
My wife does not seem to understand this.
I should clarify that I like to have cats around, but any notion that a cat is a ‘pet’ is delusional. I’m not the freakish type that thinks that the cats are the masters over their owners, but I’m fully aware that the cats think they are. The relationship between a cat and it’s owner is a constant acceptance of the other’s presence and an occasional massage. Research has shown that petting a cat lowers stress in humans. The trick is to convince the cat it wants a massage at the moments in life when we feel stressed.
The animals which people keep as pets are rarely more than poop factories. They’re sole purpose is to turn food into poop. Sure, chinchilla’s are soft and usually docile, but a week after they arrive in most houses, they no longer garner human attention beyond a moment or two a day. Yes, we have a chinchilla named Keizl.
Dogs are good companions, I’m sure. I do like to hang out with dogs and could do it all day except that they need to be taken outside occasionally. I have issues with the outside. Agoraphobia is one of the symptoms of my Asperger’s. So dogs are not really for me. We have a dog, too; a little Papillion named Hunter.
Snakes. Snakes are cool to watch–through glass–at the zoo. Watching them eat is a little disturbing. Mammals should not be swallowed whole. We have a snake name Stripe or something. It’s a California King Snake. I held it once and wasn’t bothered at all, but I have no need to experience it again. When I was younger, I had dozens of pet snakes, usually for an hour or two at a time. Catching snakes is not hard. And just so you don’t get the wrong idea from this: Every snake I caught was set free unharmed.
Parakeets can be great pets once they are tamed. If I liked pets, I’d probably take the time to tame a parakeet. I have two at home. I don’t know their names. I do know the green and blue one bites and so does the white one.
Chickens are barnyard animals, not pets. We keep ours in the backyard and eat their eggs. I’m sure my daughter thinks they are pets but they are not. They are, however, far friendlier than the parakeets. The chickens have names: Azalea, Taren and Marsala.
Fish are not a simple process of just dropping them in a tank with some food and water. Trust me, I’ve tried. Best case scenerio is starting with 12 fish and having 11 completely disappear and ending up with one much larger fish. We don’t have any of those fish. We did sell the one fish back to the store for more than we bought all 12 for.
I mentioned I like cats. I am a bit of a cat-snob and prefer Abyssinian cats. We don’t have any Abyssinian cats.
Our oldest cat is eleven years old and an Ocicat named Laika. She was not named after the dog but named after another cat who was, in turn, named after the infamous dog. Ocicats are almost like Abyssinians. Almost. Our next oldest cat is 2 years old. He is a black cat named Imp. We love Imp. Imp is a normal shorthair cat with silky soft fur and the temperament of a dust bunny. My daughter, Kitty (not a cat-Kitty is short for Kathryn), is six and a terror to animals. She loves to love them. We all know how that works, right. Well, Imp puts up with Kitty carrying him around and laying on him (hugs). He has never intentionally reacted to her with any of his sharp bits. Our youngest cat was born last Halloween and we got her in February. Her name is Minuet (Minnie for short) and she is a Somali cat. A Somali cat is also almost like an Abyssinian.
I said Ocicats and Somalis were almost like Abyssinian cats. Ocicats, as a breed, are part Abyssinian. Somali cats are actually pure Abyssinian, but with long hair.
All of our cats are well trained in terms of litter box use. None of them are well trained as to where to project their hairballs. The Ocicat recently started to show her age when she wasn’t quite making it to the litter box. This earned her a spacious private condo. Ok, so by condo I mean she lives in a 30 inch by 48 inch cage when no one is around to watch her.
3 is the ideal number of cats with which to cohabitate.
A couple weeks ago my wife took my daughter and youngest son to the local dairy’s open house. The older son is apparently Heliophobic and might actually burst into flames in the presence of sunlight. At this open house, they give out milk, ice cream and apparently kittens. Well, maybe not everyone gets a kitten. They have a little petting zoo where they always have a days-old calf and a few other animals. Among these is usually kittens. Kitty absolutely loves kittens.
When my family arrived home, my wife came up to my office and presented me with a shoebox with a ribbon on it. My exact words were, “Please, no.”
Inside the box was a little gray tabby kitten with a white spot on its chest and white paws. We named it Mittens. Mittens is the most timid kitten ever in the history of kittens. Kitty could hold Mittens and Mittens would not only tolerate it, but purr from the attention. Mittens was born around May First. She was small. She was actually too small and after reading an ancient book on cat care (Parts were written in charcoal, by hand. Kidding, but it was old.) We diagnosed Mittens with roundworm. So, we bought medicine and fixed that. Evidence left behind tells us we diagnosed correctly. All the cats got the medicine, though Mittens was in quarantine until we were sure she would be litter trained.
Mittens got a lot healthier over the next couple weeks. She doubled her weight. Being a diligent cat owner we then sent her into the vaccinations clinic. And then she came back with a diagnosis of Feline Leukemia…
Feline Leukemia is a viral, incurable disease. It basically cuts a cat’s lifespan to 6-8 years rather than 12-20. There are vaccines, but once a cat has it, it has it. Not wanting to take chances with our other cats (who are all vaccinated) we decided to send Mittens to the farm.
That’s not a euphemism for euthanize. We actually sent her back to the dairy farm. Kitty was sad. We were all sad, except Minnie, who absolutely hated just being in the same house with Mittens. Mittens was happy to be back with her mom and sister and has gained the attention of the dairy’s in-house vet. The dairy tells us they will be vaccinating all their cats for Feline Leukemia now and in the future. We didn’t ask the dairy to reimburse us for the hundred plus dollars of veterinary care we provided during the two weeks we cared for their kitten.
So my wife has learned the hard way not to adopt random animals. I get to be a bit stricter on my no-new-pets policy.
Oh, and now Kitty has a new fish.