Friday, May 11, 2012

Whiskers on Kittens

I confess.

Once upon a time, when we lived in New York City we had a cat. His name was Elliott and we referred to him as our penthouse kitty because he never left the apartment. He was white with long hair and big green eyes. My husband used to say the resemblance between mother and kitty was astonishing.

But then I had human children and poor Elliott took a back seat.

I neither needed nor wanted furry paws around my neck or something to curl up in my lap and meow at me until I petted it. I had diapers to change, a lap full of children and poor Elliott's meowing was often drowned out by a different kind of yowling.

When we moved to Oregon Elliott was adopted by my grandmother who was able to dote on him in the way he'd been doted on before the kids displaced his (what he would have termed) rightful position.

Now we have fish. They seem to die a lot but the only person who ever notices is my husband. Last year I did a post about Child #2s frogs. They have since passed on to the great frog wonderland in the sky.

This guy is temptingly adorable!
In essence, we are petless.

Which made sense for a while but now the children are potty-trained and semi-self sufficient and I'm left wondering whether I'm depriving my family of one of life's great joys.

Would our lives be fuller and richer if we adopted a sweet little puppy?

Even as I type the words 'sweet little puppy' I cringe a little. I picture chewed up shoes, wet, muddy paws and dog hair. The companion image is the one of me, cold and shivering in the rain, holding that little plastic baggy filled with blech.  

So then I think maybe a cat. Until I remember how many people are allergic to cats and how much I love to entertain.

Which leads me to hamsters. I was actively considering hamster logistics when I visited a friend and commented on the large size of her hamster. "That's because he ate the other one," she told me. I wish I could say she was kidding but she wasn't. The story, in brief, one died and the survivor cannibalized his friend.

Rats and mice are out due to my particular phobia so sometimes I play around with the idea of rabbits. I had a rabbit as a child but my rabbit had only slightly more personality than the interchangeable fish in our basement fish tank.

So what do you think blogosphere?

Are pets an important part of joy? Or should I just schedule more play dates for my kids and call it a (poop-free, no cannabilization, unmaimed shoe, zero allergy attack) day?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Most pets are like taking on another kid - they require a lot of time, energy, and sacrifice. We always had dogs, and a couple cats, when I was a kid and I'm glad we did. Just don't go under the assumption your kids will ever take care of the pet. Even when they are a teen!

Beylit said...

I love my pets, and I loved pets when I was growing up, but I would say my pets mean more to me now than when I was a kid. Of course I have no children to occupy my time, so the cats and the dog are my fur-babies just now.

Still they are a lot of effort, and unless you REALLY have a NEED for a fluffy little addition to your family, I would just schedule more play dates.

Charity Bradford said...

We recently got a puppy, but my youngest will start school this fall. It really is like having a baby. Shots, grooming, food, crying at night until they get used to the crate(about 4 days for us), house training, cleaning up mess on the floor, steam cleaning said floors weekly until the training sets in, buying lots of febreeze because we don't want the house to smell like dog...

Having said all of that, I love having a puppy again. He's training up well and listens better than my kids. None of my family are snugglers, so I like a warm puppy curling up in my lap or on my feet while watching TV.

And nothing beats that crazy wiggly bum when he's so happy that I'm home.

Good luck with your decision!

Anonymous said...

Other people's animals are like eating at a fondue restaurant. You go, it's fun, you leave, and someone else gets to clean up the mess.

That said, I love my dog and tolerate my cat (or does she tolerate me?). For me, the big factor was shedding. Not because of allergies, but because of my OCD-like tendencies. The right kind of dog with hair instead of fur that doesn't shed. The cat...well...let's just say there are quick showers while wearing two sweatshirts. And somehow she still loves me.

Angela Cothran said...

I think some people are naturally pet people. I am NOT. I would be perfectly happy never being around animals, but my hubby and kids NEED them. So I concede :)

Ella said...

Oh, I can so relate to this post! We had the added burden of being a military family, lots of moving. We had almost decided on getting a puppy, when my husband's orders to Hawaii detained us. All pets are in quarantined, for 6months prior to being released to live with you,etc.
We waited... How old are the children? Pull puppy's tail age or a bit older? The photo is adorable...
I love animals, but do your homework on the breed's personality before you decide. Some breeds are more family friendly and adaptable! A family dog is an extended member of your family. I say,"go for it" but know the pros and cons of the breed, first! It will make the transition so much easier!
I have a beagle, in case you were wondering and a betta fish :D
That photo is prepared to have many laughs and fall in love with your furry family member! Yeah, there is the other, but the fun memories will out shine, those ;D

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I didn't realize you lived in Oregon!

I am an animal lover. (So much I don't even eat them.) We always had pets - hamsters, cats, dogs, chickens, rabbits, fish, etc. Cats are low maintenance, so they are a good choice for a busy family. I did love my Dutch bunny and would let him run around the house. They can be housebroken just like a dog, too.

Cassie Mae said...

I've got two kitties, and they entertain each other... but so do my kids :)

Hubs wants a dog, but I'm putting my foot down on that one till the kids are older to take care of it and then take it when they move out :)

The Bookworm said...

Well, when my kids were little, we always had little 'starter pets' birds, and fish. Then as my son grew up, he loved reptiles, so he'd go out and collect frogs, yes frogs. We got him a tank and he created a 'habitat' for them to live in. It was great, because it kept him busy.

Now that they are older, and my son has moved past his reptiles phase, I got my Diego, but I knew at the end of the day, he'd be mine to care for. Having a puppy is definitely like having another kid.
I don't regret it though. That unconditional puppy love is really nice when I've a cranky teenager and a little diva at

Anonymous said...

We have a Yorkie and a canary. The kids want all kinds of additional pets but we know they will soon neglect the,. Case in pint: two beta fish died after only a month due to neglect.

Maybe in a couple more years we'll let them get a guinea pig or something.

Talei said...

How funny! Last week I was asked whether my hound was actually a comfort to me? Ironically, I'd got the dog 2 weeks before I found out I was pregnant -and it was hard. In hindsight, not so clever. That was 6 years ago, now my son who used to be obsessed with le hound is now very nonchalant about 'walkies'. i.e they've become a chore for him. I think if you have time for pets, definitely go ahead - but if they become a chore, its less joy than it should be. Fish are a very smart option methinks.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

We got a kitten when our girls were 7 and 4. Okay, the 4 year old squeezed him a bit, but he was patient. It was a great experience, and we loved that cat.

A couple years ago, he ventured out on the highway (we thought he was too smart for that) and we were heart-broken. Knowing we could never find a cat like him again, we did something we swore we would never do. (I can only assume we were crazed with grief.)

We got a dog.
A German Shepherd.

It's like having a permanent toddler as part of your family. We love her, of course, although I still pine sometimes for a cat.

Emily R. King said...

I'm a pet person, but that is because I was raised to be. Pets are expensive and a lot if work. I would only adopt one I felt passionate about. Otherwise, it's not worth the effort. Good luck deciding!

Jenny S. Morris said...

I cringe too at the thought of puppies but I want my kids to have a dog. They would love a bunny too. A bunny might be a good choice for you. Poop pellets are a reality of that though. Some of my best childhood memories include pets.

Anne Gallagher said...

In my experience I've always had two dogs at a time. Especially if they were going to be home all day alone. One puppy is a nightmare because they get bored which is why they chew shoes, the sofa, etc. Two puppies entertain themselves especially when they have their own toys. And if there is a yard, that's even better.

If someone is home for most of the day, then one dog would be fine. If you give it the love and attention they need.

We have three dogs now, because my daughter absolutely had to have them, "oh please Mommy
p-l-e-a-s-e." Guess who plays with them and feeds them and loves them. She doesn't even talk to them. But I wouldn't trade them for anything.

wendini1 said...

We have both cats and dogs. I cannot imagine home without them. Yes, they can be a lot of work. If shed fur bothers you, consider a poodle or a portuguese water dog.

Johanna Garth said...

Alex, I have no such assumptions ;)

Beylit, after reading everyone's comments I'm inclined to think that might be the best option.

Charity, awww, warm puppy!

Josh, maybe we can convince the grandparents to get a puppy!

Angela, I'm not sure if anyone needs them in my house.

Ella, they're 7 and 10 so sort of helpful and very interested in a pet.

Cassie, kitties would be cute, especially if they played together.

Naida, I love the phrase starter pets!

Stephen, my son keeps talking about a parrot.

Talei, a lot of wisdom to fish ;)

Diane, good input. I'm not sure I'm ready for a permanent toddler.

Thanks for that feedback Emily.

Jenny, I know! That's why I'm so torn.

Anne, three dogs! I'm curious what kind they are.

Wendin1, I actually looked at the Portuguese Water dog option.

Chuck said...

You can't go wrong with a Boston Terrier...otherwise I would not have two! They potty train pretty quick and are loads of fun. Plus this is the third cat post I have read today so I am concerned they are really taking over!

Alicia Willette-Cook said...

The cats ARE taking over. It's subtle...but true! Get a dog. Read Cesar Milan. :) We had dogs growing up all our lives, our Irish Setter actually rescued my sister from the middle of our busy road..pulled her from crawling out there when my mom thought she was safe in her play pen. Dogs are good to have with kids. :)

Heather M. Gardner said...

I love this post. Sooo funny.

We have 4 cats but we had them before the 'boy'. They are my other children, no doubt. We'd like to get a dog too but I'm afraid the cats will kick the dogs butt.
Best of luck in whatever you choose!