I made the decision a long time ago that couches with unclawed arms and rugs that had never been barfed on were for suckers.
I don’t know what else you’d call someone who would pass up a chance at a lifetime of unconditional love with a being who is literally always happy to see you, doesn’t care how often you bathe and never judges you, no matter how badly you stumble. That really only scratches the surface (see what I did there?) of the many beautiful reasons there are to have pets, but they’re among my favorites.
Still, there was really just one underlying reason I opted 25 years ago to bring home two kittens, followed over the years by one more kitten and then two more kittens after that: They bring me joy. Their funny little furry faces and their acrobatics and the thousand hilarious and lovable things they do — if you have Internet access, chances are you’ve seen a cat video or two — just bring a measure of joy and a richness to my life I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I’ve seen boyfriends come and go. I’ve lost jobs, had fallouts with family members, lost dear friends. My finances have waxed and waned, and waned again. Through it all, my furry little companions have been the constant. There’s been no stress too great or grief too deep that they haven’t helped me navigate.There have been times when my cats were, it seemed, all that made my life worth living.
And when I’m home and they’re twining themselves around my feet when I’m trying to walk to the bathroom, or hard-meowing at me to let them go outside [they’re really not allowed] or eat ham [I give in on this one], or walking across my keyboard when I’m on deadline, yeah, I get pretty irritated. I’ve cussed out more than one cat for snagging a new sweater or vomiting in a shoe or tripping me when I’m running to the phone. I’ve balked at the idea of scooping out the litterbox for the 1,098,715th time. And I’ve spent so much money at the emergency pet clinic for various maladies that they really ought to name a wing after me. But even when I lose my temper or let their food bowls get empty for a moment longer than is strictly required, I don’t get anything in return but love and tolerance. These fools love their clunky old human, and I’m grateful for that.
“I’m a package deal: Love me, love my cats.”
I’ve only got three permanent feline residents, with occasional bouts of kitten-fostering over the years for various rescue groups, but if given the slightest encouragement, I see Crazy Cat Lady in my future. Most of the people in my life argue I’m already there. My framed photos of family scattered throughout my home include both the two-legged members and four-legged ones, and everybody in my life knows I’m a package deal: Love me, love my cats.
I know plenty of people who have more of a dog thing going on than a cat thing, and I can respect that. We’re still sympatico, the dog people and I. We still share that bond of having learned a secret to making your life extra joyful in the best of times and absolutely bearable during the worst. I also know people who live lives without animals at all. I am utterly baffled by these people. I cannot fathom anything sadder than coming home to a house without those little whiskered faces looking up at me and demanding my attention, regardless of my own priorities.
Pet adoption, of course, does an awful lot of good for the actual pets. But I think we know who the real winners are here.