• Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
sunshine & unicorns: a blog about love, learning, and life in the upper midwest

30 July 2009

i'm too sexy for my cat

I love animals more than I love most of my own species. I have no pet allergies, and I really enjoy spending time with most kinds of pets (including not just cats and dogs, but also lizards, frogs, turtles and rodents).

So it might surprise you to learn that Bf and I have no pets. Even my fish bowl sits dry and empty.

I was not always this way. Since high school, I've owned two cats, an iguana, and many gerbils. There was one point, in fact, where I had 3 gerbils, the lizard and one of the cats at the same time, all existing with me and my roomie in a 400 sq. foot partially-finished basement storage room that our landlord called an "apartment". That's a zoo, fo' sho'.

What happened to them all? Responsibility happened. Or irresponsibility, depending on how you look at it. I'm not sure how I expected (as a renter in a pet-unfriendly town) to deal with the ramifications of all of those pets. I was young and I loved animals, so I had a bunch of them.

When I moved from the west coast to the middle of the country four years ago (wow, has it really been four years?) I gave away my lizard and gerbils. The gerbils went to a family; I'm sure the kids had fun with them. The lizard went to the best home I could imagine: a couple who loved iguanas and other tropical pets. They'd converted their garage and half their house in to primo reptile territory - it was amazing. Still, I felt bad giving my iguana (appropriately named: Sid Vicious) away. But I had come to the conclusion that I really could not take care of such an expensive and exotic animal. Sid needed specific fresh and diverse veggies each day (arugula and radicchio, anyone?) and I knew that in my future home state I would be unable to provide them.

It was now 2005 and I was down to just one cat named Wednesday (after Wednesday Addams, whose personality and original namesake seemed to fit this animal well). She'd joined my little family in 2004 - a rescued stray kitten who was afraid of her own shadow but very mischievous. And now, Wednesday and I would go to grad school in the mid-west! It was difficult for me to find an apartment that would allow her, but I did find one. And it was bigger and cheaper than our basement digs, even with the attached monthly "pet rent" I had to pay.

We moved in the summer of '05. That December, I was in our local PetCo and they had the Humane Society booth. The woman had a big bunch of happy, excited little baby kittens... who were all jumping on and biting a skinny, sickly half-grown white cat. The white cat had an orange head. He looked at me through crusted, watery eyes and meowed. A tear fell from his eye. And that's how I ended up with Fry. (Side note: I used to take lots of pictures of Fry and post them to Flickr with Creative Commons licenses. He's shown up in all sorts of places.)

We moved again in the Summer of '06 to a larger -- but not nicer -- apartment (with a higher "pet rent" and a $300 non-refundable "pet fee"). In 2008 something awful happened: The landlord was sick of people taking advantage of the pet fee. They were living there with dogs and letting the dogs go without being housebroken, soiling the hallways and common areas. In the winter, the outside steps were slick with dog urine... it was disgusting. Rather than deal with the problem individually, the landlord decided to discourage people from having pets in their apartment complex. They hiked the pet rent. Like, majorly. This post was about that. As I lived in my apartment longer, I also felt like I really did not belong there. I was a yuppie; my neighbors were druggies. I wasn't comfortable walking from my car to the building. Or leaving my car outside. Petty crime in my area was going up (and my tastes were getting snootier too).

I had to give up my cats. Being cornered by the weird drunken homeless guy in my (supposedly secured-entry) apartment complex was the last straw. I couldn't afford to buy a home, and I couldn't justify staying in my awful apartment at such a high rent. But my apartment? It was the best place in town where pets were allowed. Places that allow them are few and far between. I always intended to write an editorial to the local paper about it, but I haven't still. I think that because we live in a community with a very 'farm' mentality, there is this mantra: people inside, animals outside.

Anyway, it was an awful decision, but I made it. I split them up, which wasn't actually a big deal at all. They were terrors together, anyway. They never really got along very well. Fry went to a kind woman with a small child. She needed a kid-friendly cat, and that he definitely was. He was also unstoppably happy-go-lucky. I'm sure he's happy where he is now. Wednesday was a very snooty, finicky cat with idiosyncrasies galore. I couldn't give her to just anyone. I finally convinced my mom to take her. At my mom and dad's house, Wednesday sleeps on silk pillowcases and has beautiful mountain and water views. She's most definitely Living The Life. (In fact, on a recent visit to their home, she wouldn't even acknowledge my existance!)

And suddenly, in June of 2008, for the first time in 6 years, I was pet-less. Bf and I lint-rolled all the furniture and we moved to a nice Absolutely-No-Pets-Allowed townhouse. We'd intended to stay there indefinitely, but various factors with the neighbors and some choices we made regarding graduate school and employment changed our minds. A few months ago, we bought a house... but we didn't run out to our shelter and snatch up the nearest cat. (And my mom will not be letting Wednesday come back, either!)

See: living without pets has afforded us tons of freedom. We can be late coming home from work without thinking of a hungry cat or a dog with a full bladder. We can go away for days at a time without worrying about their care. We can leave our closets open without fear of fur on our work clothes or teeth marks in our shoes. We can leave meat out on the counter to thaw, and we can lie on the floor without getting a wet nose in our faces. We also save $50+ month on pet supplies. And we don't have to worry about visits from friends who are allergic. We don't have to change a litter box or change a cage. We're freeeeeeee!

But lately... I miss having a pet. A cuddly creature to hug and love and take care of. We're homeowners now, so we don't have to worry about angry landlords or frequent moves. We could do it. But do we want to? I don't ever want to give away another pet. I'm no longer the young, irresponsible pet-owner I once was. The next pet we get, whether a kitten or a 10-year-old dog, will be ours for the rest of its life. We have the means and the stability to take care of a cat or dog. Bf and I don't plan to have children for several years, but it'd be nice to add to our "family" in the mean time.

But we're also very busy. We're in school full time, we work full time, and (currently) we're planning a wedding and honeymoon. After the honeymoon (next summer), we decided that we will consider becoming pet-parents. But for now, we'll remain a family of two.