I know, I know, you think I have no heart. Everyone does when I tell them that I don’t have (or ever want to have) a pet. But I do have a soul, I swear. I’m just not that into four-legged, furry creatures, and I certainly don’t want one running around my cozy one-bedroom apartment.
Listen, I never said I don’t like pets. And I don’t think I’ve ever implied that I’m “anti-animal.” I’m just not a “pet person” (and neither is my husband, thankfully).
But still, people just don’t get it. Recently, when I told a friend that my husband and I were thinking about starting a family next year, she said: “Get a pet first. That way, you’ll know you if you can handle kids.” When I told her no way, and that I’d take a baby over a dog any day, she looked at me as though I had just murdered a bunny rabbit.
To me, a pet is just as much of a responsibility as a baby, maybe even more of one. I know I can’t control what people think of me. But here’s my attempt to explain myself, when faced with these silly, “why-are-you-an-animal-hater?” questions.
“Are you insane?”
Sure. But not because I don’t want pets. Perhaps if I lived on a sprawling estate, where there was space for a dog to run free and a room that I could dedicate solely to the kitty litter box, I’d consider it. But the fact of the matter is I live in a small apartment in Brooklyn, with my husband. A big dog would be miserable here — it would be unfair to make a large animal live in such tight quarters. And I’m pretty positive I’d end up accidentally stepping or sitting on a teeny-tiny “apartment dog.” And cats, while more suited for apartments, shed all over everything, scratch up almost anything and require a litter box, which smells God-awful, no matter what magical products you use to try to cover the odor. All of that sounds like pretty sane reasoning to me.
“But don’t you love animals?”
I do love animals. I love watching them on YouTube, I love playing with other people’s pets, I even enjoy a good petting zoo every now and then. But, other than the YouTube watching, those things don’t happen in my apartment, and therefore there’s no pee, poop, hair, or worst of all, destroyed items that we love, left behind. Like Roscoe, our wonderfully sweet, incredibly patient and blessedly silent stuffed watchdog. HE’S our kind of pet.
“Didn’t you grow up with pets?”
Yup. I had a beautiful calico cat that I named Foo-Foo. We got her when I was seven years old and she died my sophomore year in college. I loved her, she was a part of the family, and I was devastated when she passed away. But the thing is, I didn’t really have to take care of her. My mom did most of that. So I had all the perks of owning a cat without having to do any of the work. Foo-Foo was also — how do you say — kind of a bitch. Which I liked about her: she didn’t cozy up to just anybody (in fact, she often drew blood from some of my friends). She wasn’t a lap slut. Which is why I knew I was special: She did cozy up to me.
Point is, I had a wonderful pet growing up, but I didn’t have to clean up after her, pay for her food, or clean out her litter box. What I had, in essence, was a fantasy pet, something that I wouldn’t be able to pull off today.
“Did you have a bad run-in with an animal?”
Nope. I do not suffer from pet PTSD. I just don’t want one.
Are you allergic?
No, but my sister is, which caused a bit of an upset when Foo-Foo was adopted. My sister is 11 years older than me, so she was out of the house by the time Foo-Foo moved in, but I’m sure my sis felt a bit slighted when she learned that my parents had gotten me a cat. And it sucked when she came over — she could stay 30 minutes, maybe 45 tops before she started suffering a miserable sneeze fest. This is another reason why I don’t want a cat, which I think is the most appropriate pet for city living. I don’t want my sister to be unable to comfortably hang out in my home.
Do you avoid sites like I Can Has Cheezburger?
NO. You don’t have to own a pet to find humor in them. My husband agrees:
I’m not stupid, I’m not heartless, I’m not a tight-assed person, I swear. I just don’t want animal hair, urine, feces, throw-up or clawed-up furniture and clothing in my apartment. I’m sure, as EVERYONE SAYS, that the love you feel is well worth the inconveniences, but I just don’t feel the need to find out.
A baby will be plenty, if we are eventually blessed with one, thank you very much.
This piece was originally published on December 3, 2013.