I keep thinking I want a cat. A lovely furry thing that might even purr when I rubbed his ears or under his chin, a four-footed companion that would curl up with me on cold nights, wake me when it was time to get up, yawn hugely and stretch for me, leap about for laser toys and bits of fluff…
Sounds delightful, right? And easier than a dog, who, for all her charms, requires regular walking, howls when left alone, demands attention, focuses too much energy on you.
But there’s a problem.
Animals just don’t love me.
It’s a sad truth. I’ve had more pets than you could shake a SPCA at – dogs, cats, birds, fish, even various rodents and one poor red-eared turtle. I tended all the kids’ pets as they were growing up. I’ve even cycled through a whole menagerie of animals looking for a substitute for my ex (but, unlike him, would occasionally be at home).
It’s not that they don’t LIKE me. All dogs come up to sniff my hand and slobber all over me. Cats even cross the street for a rub, and those little pocket pets curl up and feel safe in my hands. But none of them love me. Given the choice, they’ll run off to anyone else. Anyone.
My ex once got me a sweet little kitten. She of course loved him best and I have lots of photos of her sitting on him, smooching him, purring at him. We have had two dogs, one who respected me at least, the other who made absolutely no bones about her preference for my ex or one of my sons. I adopted a cat all to my own when I moved out on my own after years of marriage, thinking – ha! there’s only me here! She’s gotta love me.
Nope. She spent the next year peeing on my bed anytime she got the whiff of a chance.
I bought a sweet Bichon puppy (they love everybody), and when I was developing difficulty walking, I gave him to a family with three girls. He left, bouncing, with poorly disguised glee, and from all accounts he is deliriously happy with them. Traitor. He could have at least been off his feed for an hour or so.
Maybe all these animals know I wanted to train as a vet, and did train as a nurse, both jobs where a certain dispassionate caring is the norm. Maybe it’s because all the toenail trimming and hair cutting and ear cleaning and vet visits and cyst draining and teeth brushing fell to me. So their feelings about me (like those of the kids) became mixed good and bad. But I’m tired of being snubbed by the animal kingdom. There’s nothing like having a cat stalk away and jump into someone else’s arms to make you feel like less of a person. It’s even worse with dogs, love hounds that they are. Being snubbed by a dog scores you, deep down, when you know the average dog will do anything for a treat or a scratch.
Right now, I share my apartment with two wee parrotlets. One of them shuns me, glares at me out of her perfectly round beady eyes, treats me like I eat baby quail for dinner every night and pick my teeth with the legs.
The other one, against all expectations, seems to love me. She flies from her cage to my head, climbs up my arm to my shoulder where she kisses my cheek. She curls on my arm as I type, nibbles on my hair, eats all the paper on my desk. As soon as I walk in the room she flings herself against the bars to come and see me. It is totally astonishing and unbelievable, amazingly delightful. I barely know how to take this tiny creature, barely the size of my finger, who puts such trust in me.
But I know as long as she’s about, there will be no cats. Just me and my little blue friends. Now, if only I could train them to purr…