Saturday, November 27, 2010

Confessions of a Wannabe Pet Owner

my history of pet owning has been spotty at best. like every child on the face of this earth, i begged and pleaded with my parents to purchase a furry creature that i could pet at will and hug and snuggle, not realizing that i was also asking them to clean up animal poopies, feed and provide for yet another creature in the household, and all sorts of other responsibilities. but who cares? when you're 5, the focus is on "furry," "hug," and "snuggle." my wily parents rejected our demands (and understandably so--kids are sort of like animals and there were four of us!), citing "animal allergies" as a sort of cop-out "well-what-can-we-do?" shrug of the shoulders answer. and being 5, i believed them, vowing to have all the animals i wanted when i grew up. (later when i discovered the truth that my parents are not, in fact, allergic and just actually just hated animals, i was a little mad, but not at all surprised.)

we did end up having a few random pets--a miniature turtle (you know, the kind that give you diseases) that died when we fed it rice, angel the parakeet that we discovered in the apartment complex who my parents released into the wild (of hong kong) because they got tired of keeping it in a shoebox, and some random baby sparrow that died the night we took it in and ended up in the food trash bag. very meaningful experiences, definitely.

fast forward to my first pets ever, my 1.5 dwarf hamsters hanky and panky. purchased as a talisman against loneliness my first couple of months in japan, i quickly found that hamsters, no matter how cute, should not be put in the same cage together because one night i found panky huddled in a corner, shivering and bleeding in the balls. hanky and panky did not get along so much, as it turned out. hanky, the aggressor, went back to the pet store, and i pretended not to speak japanese so they would take him back, which is why i say i had 1.5 hamsters. panky died in less than a year from liver sarcoma (according to my japanese veterinarian, who knew how to say "liver sarcoma" in english, but not "where are you from?")

fast forward a few more years to the 9 months of darkness i spent living with my parents in the interim between japan and nursing school. i purchased another hamster, this time a teddy bear hamster who i pinned my hopes on, only to have them dashed. because as it turns out, intelligence is not really a trait found in ANY species of hamster, and Bunky was dumber than a box of rocks. i spent months trying to teach him tricks and training him to not sleep in the same place where he peed to no avail. i went away to new york, and bunky went home with some russian girl in cupertino, his little paws pressed against the plastic walls of his terrarium in farewell.

and now i am here, in the possession (albeit temporary) of a cat... with AIDs. one morning i was on my way to work and spotted a car with a decal that read "WaHeCats" and was immediately intrigued. an organization specifically for cats in the WasHeights area? it doesn't get more organic than that. their website asked for adoption families and... foster homes?"why, that's easy!" i thought to myself. i could foster a cat easy and when i was doneskies with it for whatever reason, he'll get adopted!

and that's how i ended up with clyde. as far as cats go, i think i lucked out in every way possible. clyde isn't psycho. he doesn't bite. he doesn't scratch. he doesn't jump on the bed and walk all over my face while i'm sleeping. he comes when i call, he doesn't freak the hell out like some other cats i've seen. he's not coquettish. he cares about two things and two things alone: eating and snuggling and he's very consistent about demanding both things.

while i normally would be on board with all these things, aside from the AIDs thing, but clyde can't help his shameful past as an IV drug user. a low maintenance cat that wants to snuggle a lot? score! but as it turns out, i am not as needy in the snuggles department as i've always claimed to be. in fact, clyde outstrips me in his neediness to the point that sometimes i lock him in the bathroom so he won't get underfoot so much. what i realized at the end of the day is that while i could not have asked for a better cat, when i'm done taking care of needy creatures at work/school, i really don't feel like taking care of another needy creature when i come home. i'm not gonna lie: all i really want to do is take care of myself. preferably with one of my numerous ben and jerry's pints of ice cream.

i guess the take home message is not just that i'm not a cat person, but i'm not a pet person. at all. and one day if i change my mind about procreating, i'll probably tell my kids that i have "allergies." that ought to shut them up. and if it doesn't, i'll lock them in the bathroom.

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