Updated: Dec 31, 2022
I’m the unlikeliest of pet owners! No, really! I’ve had pets in my childhood: a cat, a dog, a Guinea pig, and lots of fish, but as I grew older and my job became my focus animals became less important. I guess it stems from the fact I was terrified of dogs as a child. I mean, beyond terrified! Our spitz pinned me to the ground at three years old and I guess I never got over that. Then dogs would always chase me on my bike, bare their teeth at me, and, sadly, I never really had a good experience with them growing up. Many of the cats I was exposed to bit me and scratched me. The one cat I truly loved along with all her kittens had to be given away as my mother was terribly allergic. So slowly, animals became something other people had. As I got older many of the people I knew with indoor animals lived in a kennel like environment of nasty, fowl-smelling, urine-soaked air, torn upholstery and clouds of dander filled with allergens. So, no cat or dog for me. I was so adamant about this that my wife, when she was my fiancé, gave up her cat to a friend before we married and combined our households.
Enter our two sons. Life is never the same when you have children! Trust me, urine, poo and spit up cover you and everything you have so you develop a strong constitution or you gag your way through the first year of their lives. After raising two boys to older childhood let me say I know what a mess is! The thing is that amidst the stepped on pulverized Cheerios, poopie underwear always soaking in the sink and chocolate handprints on the paint is life, the life of those you love. I found out I could have a pristine and sterile house, but that would reflect my life, sterile, devoid of life. Now, that does not mean I don’t clean like a crazy man or teach our kids how to take care of things. It just means slowly I’ve been able to pull the stick out of my rear a bit. I suffer from anxiety and it’s amazing how the presence of the little animal can calm your nerves.
I’ve also developed strategies for keeping things clean and have invested in very easy clean surfaces and upholstery that can be bleached. Yes, bleached baby! I’m thankful we also did not put carpet in our new home which makes cleanup so much easier. We only have two rugs in the house. I also believe in buying a bit cheaper rug that you can easily replace when it shows a little wear or you want to change the style. Loose the $5000+ Tibetan rug and invest that money and have less stress.
A few weeks ago my wife’s phone dinged with a text from a friend offering a kitten. A stray cat they cared for had kittens in the bushes of their home and they were trying to find good homes for the three. At first you can imagine my thought was an adamant, no! My kids wore me down slowly and then, tragically, the kitten’s mom was run over. I could not say no! But I stated we’d keep the kitten in the laundry until it was old enough to be a porch kitty. Yes, a porch kitty. It would live on the porch in a little bed with food except on the coldest nights.
Animals have a strange way of melting your heart. Now, I watch my little kitty when its on the porch and don’t let it out without us watching over it constantly. The cat’s domain went from the laundry to the kitchen to the living area and now it has the run with its bed in the center of our formal living space. Wow, how things change! Just today I could not find the kitten we’ve named Neville. I was genuinely concerned and then after searching found him passed out under one of our pillows on the sofa.
Now, we are teaching him not to get on the upholstery, not to pick the rug and not to scratch at the curtains. Just like your children you teach them what is and is not acceptable and I have to say our kitten minds better than the kids! Just because we have a cat does not mean we don’t clean more. We do! We love our Roomba iRobot Vacuum and run it in every room at least once a day. We also brush our little kitty every day and bathe him once every few weeks. If you do it right, an animal, like a child, should force you to be more clean not less clean with your home. Food and litter box are kept in our laundry which gets a very through cleaning every day and also we’ve found that running our ceiling fan in that room all day helps with ventilation.
Now, we want a dog. Lord help us!