When I noted that one highlight of my day was Sirfluffalot’s sweet paw petting me, it occurred to me to keep her. I’ve catsit her every few months for the last two years—without charge—and enjoy doing so.
Unlike many people with sensory issues, animals are not primarily a source of joy for me. Between their sounds, scents, and physical contact, I can become overwhelmed by animals very quickly. This particular cat, however, has grown on me. She has also become far more gentle and affectionate with me since changes in her family have left them unable to spend much time with her.
What a sweetheart she is! So communicative, it seems to me like she is speaking English. I love that she pets me in order to “suggest” I pet her, lol.
As loved as she is, her family has been hoping to find her a new home, to no avail. And so it is that last week, I almost made a pitch: if we could secure our mutual landlord’s okay, I would bring Sirfluffalot home permanently.
And then reality kicked in. Assuming we got past the barrier of my unit’s “no pets” rule, we would have new stressors. A kitty litter box inside a very small unit, with the litter inevitably scattered on the carpet all around it. The strong scent of cat, however clean. The near-constant sound of this particularly talkative specimen. Hair everywhere! Ongoing, long-term costs—food, litter, vet bills, extra care as she ages, pet-sitting when I travel.
If I felt a need for a pet—or this cat’s well-being would otherwise be in jeopardy and I were her only option—I would indeed scoop her up. But when I balance the “costs”—sensory, time, energy, money, space—the idea doesn’t land.
For many people, it absolutely makes sense to prioritize pet ownership. In their cases, including a pet in their family of one or more humans is a no-brainer. The pet brings them so many benefits—joy, companionship, relaxation, fitness, security—any costs are easily outweighed.
However, as my neighbour has found, there are so many families whose emotional, sensory, or financial resources run out during the pet’s lifetime, and a new home is not always easily located.
I’m grateful that I took a day to consider it, and even more grateful that my child spoke up about the above various concerns in the meantime. Care for another living being demands commitment, and I think it’s safe to say my resources are pretty much used up on the human I already have.
In the meantime, I know I’m welcome to walk the very short distance through fresh air and nature and visit with Sirfluffalot as often as I wish, as well as to continue to care for her during her family’s trips. This provides me and Cat with a happy infusion each, while also respecting my natural limits. It likewise supports her human family by ensuring excellent care for their beloved pet almost any time they need to travel.
By sharing vs owning, all of us—animal and humans alike—win!
Crave furry time, but not quite resourced for a full-time gig? Additional ways to “pet share” include walking dogs or petting cats at your local shelter, or fostering pets short term in your home while their humans need to access hospital or shelters (costs are usually covered by the organization or the long-term family).
Ownership is only one option for including sweet furry creatures in our lives.