who the heck knows anything, anyway

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Angry Post of an Animal Parent

I am going to show my true colors as a cat person here in a minute, and if that offends you, then I don't know why you like me, because I'm an animal freak.

Reason #642 that the UK is Different from the USA in Minute But Aggravating Ways: Animal Shelters

This country is weird about animals. Depending on where you grew up*, you might find them to be extremely conscientious! There is no rabies here (so says the government), and all of the pet shelters (of which there are VERY FEW**) are insane about who they allow to adopt pets. I'm cool with that. I appreciate responsible pet ownership. They do house visits and all that jazz. Excessive, maybe, but sure, ok, cool.

Except that they all seem to require that the cats be allowed outdoors. It's a weird, national trend that is exactly opposite of the general opinion on the west coast of the USA (the language from the Pixie Project in PDX does a good job encapsulating the West Coast sentiment***).

One woman I spoke to was getting along with me fine until I mentioned that our cat is indoor-only, and we would probably be doing that with any additional pets, as well. She responded "Oooooh." You know, in that drawwwwn out, disappointed way. "Well, that's a bit difficult." Why. Why is that difficult.

She then asked me if I removed my cat's claws.

No. Why on earth would I do that. Nobody does that.

The indoor/outdoor debate is a hot one. I am totally fine with people allowing their cats outside. It really doesn't bother me, and I don't consider it negligent. I, however, have made the decision to keep my cat indoors because she has health problems that keep her on steroids (which lower the strength of her immune system). So, ok, maybe cats are outdoor creatures circa thousands of years ago, but they often live longer if they are indoor only, and since I am the kind of person who considers my cat more of a child than just a "pet," those extra few years are important to me. If I adopt another cat, I want to maximize the number of years that I have to love it, too.

And, despite being indoor, she gets tons of physical exercise. I feed her a very particular diet because I am that animal parent*** and since I work from home (something I continue to mention to these people), I play with her constantly. This was the other thing. The woman on the phone was like "Indoor cats require toys, you know." YES, I DO KNOW. Who the heck owns pets here??

Sigh. I guess a lot of people in this area don't understand that owning a pet makes you responsible for another creature's life (a lot of people in the US don't, either, of course--I was culturally fortunate to be raised in animal-love-land) and they need to be reminded. But I don't have the patience to have people patronize me because of the (well-informed) way I raise my cat. I don't tell people to keep their cats inside, but when my little gremlin is still alive in 15 years, it's because she didn't get fleas, ticks, worms, a nasty cat disease, or hit by a car. And because she eats healthy foods.

And no need to comment about how parents deal with this all the time because (a) I know, (b) I have ALWAYS been sympathetic to that, and (c) seriously, I know. It sucks, and it's dumb. Responsible, good people shouldn't have to put up with that kind of nonsense. It's just hurtful, when it comes down to it.

I'm pretty chill about most things. I love tea, but I won't turn my nose up at Lipton when it's offered. I dig wine, but I'll drink that TJ's 2-buck-chuck in a heartbeat. Literature is my career, but I am sure as heck not going to give you lip if you read Game of Thrones or The Da Vinci Code (reading is reading! I'm just glad people are doing it!). But when it comes to my cat (and my future dogs, goats, etc), I am a total snob, and I will not compromise. So, BOO HISS. I miss the Humane Society and the Pixie Project. I miss nice people who nerd out about their pets with me instead of talking to me like I'm an idiot.

*I was raised in the land of organic, sustainable, grain/rice-free pet food, so I am not at all impressed. I know how to call BS on cat food from a mile away, and most of the cat food here is more expensive than the food I bought in the states and WAY less healthy.
**at least within 20 miles of Oxford
***"We at the Pixie Project, do not have an indoor only policy with our cats. We do however always strive to put the right cat in the right environment so we always ask that potential adopters speak openly and honestly about their plans regarding outdoor access for cats.  This will allow us to properly match the right cat with a safe and happy environment."
****my cat's weight is vet-verified consistently perfect, BY THE WAY. Also see *