animal instincts

Now that I live with The Girlfriend, I also live with two cats. Now, I’ve never been a ‘dog person,’ and before you all start typing your angry comments promoting your ‘pro-dog’ agenda, let me be clear. I have seen a dog be cute. A few times. But there are a few reasons I never wanted a dog as a pet:

  • They’re needy.
  • They slobber.
  • Occasionally, they shit on the floor.
  • Seriously, if a woman (or a man) had any of those traits, I wouldn’t want to DATE them, let alone feed them and have to paper-train then.

The only thing better about dogs than cats is that a dog will mind you. A cat will simply remind you how powerless you are…you can tell a cat not to do something, and if they don’t heed you, you can…tell them not to…again.That’s pretty much all ya have in your arsenal.

I have a friend who thinks I should get a fish. Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime. Own a pet fish and…what? See, it’s not even in the saying. The problem I have with fish as pets is, it seems like they can’t hold up their end of the owner (sorry, companion) – pet contract, which states:

1.      I will feed you regularly.

2.      You will love me unconditionally. (I realize this skews a little in my favor, but you signed the fucker.)

How the hell are you supposed to know if a fish loves you? A creepy side-wink when you change the water in his tank? Also, I’ve had a cat before, and I remember it being really cool if I were stressed out, to put the cat on my chest and just be lulled to sleep. You cannot do that with a fish. Well, you can, once. Then you have to get another fish.

I thought, “You know, I’m already pretty eccentric, why not get the weird pet, too.” (Now, if your reading this aloud, you should deliver the next line in the voice of Gabby Hayes.) So I went to the Google to look it up. (Drop Gabby Hayes voice here.) My search string was ‘unusual apartment pets,’ and lemme tell ya, some people are thinking WAY outside the litterbox.

Hermit crab? Nah…hard to pet. Ferret? I’ll pass on anything belonging to the mammalian group Rodentia, thank you very much. A pot-bellied pig! Oh sure, and while I’m at it why don’t I look for one with a limp, so it can look like my freakin’ porcine doppelganger!

I had to laugh when I read about the Madagascar hissing roach. Apparently, this particular roach is a popular pet. I suppose part of the appeal is that if you get bored with your pet roach, you can kill it with impugnity, ‘cuz…it’s a cockroach. I’m just imagining the roaches from my apartment in Chicago running into one of these pampered novelty acts in some dark cupboard—

“We hear you got mad skillz, yo! What do you do? You…hiss? For reals? Ah HELL no! Chicago roaches kick your thorax, beeyatch!”

One interesting pet possibility was the Australian Sugar Glider. Adorable fella, the glider; he’s a marsupial, but not as Hallmark-cutesie as a koala. Then I found out they cost a hundred and seventy-five dollars, and fifty bucks to neuter them, because if I don’t neuter the bastard, you know he’ll be makin’ time with all the other Australian Snow Gliders in the neighborhood! Oh, and there’s this from the same site—“ Sugar Gilders require so much attention that if left alone too much or if they feel neglected, they will stop eating and eventually die.” Great—it’s my college girlfriend with sharper teeth.

I knew a woman who once owned a hedgehog (true statement, but sadly it also sounds like a lost Zeppelin lyric). I found the definitive hedgehogs-as-pets website, and one paragraph struck me—allow me to parse it for you.

To handle a hedgehog (and this is me avoiding the sophomoric double-entendre), place your hand on each side of him and gently cup him in your hand (right, now it reads like gay porn).Use great caution not to place your fingers in the middle (this thing is suddenly not sounding so cuddly, but…okay).They can ball up quickly and your finger can get caught in the middle of a bunch of quills being squeezed together by very strong muscles (WTF!!!). If this happens, you will need to gently uncurl him to ease his anxiety (HIS anxiety? This Satanic mini-Ewok has decided to turn me into a pincushion, and I have to be gentle?).First, turn him over on his back to identify where the nose is located (What kind of carnival freak show am I in?). Gently rock forwards and backwards, and when the nose starts to show the front legs will also emerge. As the legs reach for the ground, gently put the hedgehog down (never to pick it up again).

So, I’m glad we have cats. Although if I were alone, I’d probably just have one, because I’m pretty sure that “multiple cats, lives alone, kind of a drifter, drinks a bit” is the character breakdown for ‘Crazy Cat Guy Serial Killer’ on an episode of Criminal Minds.

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