Want a pet?

I deliberated whether I should buy my oldest son a cat for Christmas.

He really wants a pet, and I always had a pet growing up.

We even have a cat flap in our back door from the previous owners. So we’re set!

But then I thought of the reasons why we shouldn’t. I hate fur every where. And anything that bites, like mozzies or fleas, finds and bites me. A cat would be sure to get fleas, no matter how well treated. And we have blue tongue lizards, a host of bird life, and other animals in our yard. They’d soon go with a cat around, even if said cat wore a bell. (The only animals I would be happy for the cat to scare away are brushtail possums, but given the size of the brushtails around here, a cat would have to be too big to fit through the cat flap to scare any brushies and then the cat would probably hunt us too!) And said son is a pig. He’d never clean up after his cat. It’d be left to me. And I struggle to keep the house at a liveable standard. And we all work long hours. Poor animal would be alone a lot.

So all the “ands” added up.

He got clothes instead.

For the past two weeks I have been looking after a neighbour’s guinea pigs. Yes, they are cute.

Right call to not get a cat.

Too much responsibility. (Worrying and caring for them in the heat!) More mess. (If only animals could poo in a toilet.) More work. (Twice daily, sometimes more, visits to feed, and water and give shelter from the heat.) And having to think about them when you go out. (“Quick, let’s get back. Have to feed the pigs.”)

Today I said goodbye to my “leased” pets”. Mr S thought I would not be able to give them up (back?) as they are so cute. The little black one eats out of my hand and let’s me scratch him and and he gurgles when I scratch him.

But no, Mr S is wrong. Happy to give them back. Happy to no longer be responsible. Yes, they are cute. Yes, it’s a nice feeling having an animal like you. But it is a case of diminishing returns. Definitely not part of my gorgeous life. (And really, they are rodents!)

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10 thoughts on “Want a pet?

  1. I feel nagging guilt for not buying my son a cat (or dog), too. He adores them.

    I’d have to write a long post in reply as to why we don’t have a pet, but it goes back to living on a farm with umpteen animals (5 dogs at a time, cats, horses, pet goats, pigs, cows, sheep, rabbits, birds, fish etc.)

    I developed a fierce annoyance at the casual mistreatment of pets: neglect, poor diet, laziness with exercising or training, harshness with horses, indifference to the suffering of farm animals; the propensity for misadventure (cows drowning in mud after getting bogged in the dam etc.)

    I’ve ended up quite cynical about certain types of pets. It’s not a good life for those guinea pigs (rabbits / birds / fish) in a tiny cage being playthings for children (“to teach them to care for animals and be responsible.”)

    Cats and dogs may be different and more free-range, but still many children are not able to properly care for suburban pets. It’s sad seeing overweight, under-exercised, lonely pets, or pets that were never suited to their situation (too big, too loud etc.)

    For now, we pay as much attention as we can to wild animals. We put fresh water out every day for native birds. We’ve planted native bird food plants. We have regular bird visitors to the yard, so much so that the Magpies come and tap on the glass of our back door if we forget to put out water on a hot day.

    We also have a wild rabbit that visits every morning. We listen to frog calls at a local pond and try to learn the names of different species and how to treat wildlife (e.g. NOT feeding them food like bread that makes them sick.)

    Sorry – long reply! If one day I am 100% sure I have the time and space to really care for animals, I would love to have dogs or cats again!

  2. I think you’ve made a good choice for the right reasons. Especially for older teens who may not continue to live at home and then they leave the pets with you. All pets in a family home are the parent’s responsibility forever. I have two cats. Despite what they say, cats are surprisingly dirty little animals, tracking litter all over the house and shedding fur. They also occasionally eat things they shouldn’t and throw up. They can selectively destroy things under the guise of playing or scratching. Everybody says to get two cats so they keep each other company, but they fight to the point of harming each other. I am willing to put up with all this, because I love them, but I completely understand choosing not to. I mentioned recently that these will be my last cats, and that Rom wants a corgi. But I am not sure we’ll ever have one because Rom is undecided about the commitment.

    • Dark side is so easy to cross to. Dogs are so loveable. And as someone who loves their home and doesn’t like to travel, you are a better let owner than I could be, at this stage of life.

  3. I had a dog for very spurious reasons when I was in my early twenties (I hated men, wanted a boy dog so I could cut his balls off). And two cats for equally spurious reasons (spinsters with cats need cats, right?) I am no longer a spinster and I’ve decided the other half of the human race is generally ok, and I had the dog for 17 years and the cats for 12 years. I wasn’t too keen on getting another pet – we go away all the time, the kids wouldn’t look after it. I had no delusions where that is concerned. I knew if we got a pet, it would be me that looked after it.

    I got overruled. We got a little dog from the pound but she died a tragic death and well. We got another dog. Ok, she’s adorable and I love her to bits and I am her #1 people (she went looking for me when I went away, but did not care that the boys were away when I came back!). But we’re going away for a week, and I have to send her to kennels, and that’s fraught. (she loves it though), and we’re getting work done at home soon, so there’s tradies and gates and bloody hell, who’d have a pet.

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