Apropos of nothing, I’ve decided to write a little bit of a tribute to cats. And I suppose I should mention my own cats in this feline appreciation, Calamity Jane and Clementine, who (in my totally unbiased opinion) are completely adorable.
Sometimes cats can get overshadowed in an animal family, because of the fact that, unlike dogs, you can’t really take them many places outside of the home (unless you like terror puking), and because of crazy degree to which dogs love their humans. (Honestly, my dog loves me a little TOO much. I’m just okay, Archie, all right?)
Anyway, I will never take sides in the eternal cat vs. dog wars (I’m obviously both a cat and a dog person) but I will say definitively that cats are your best bang for your buck in terms of having a pet. I’m not saying cats are better overall, but they are 100% a better investment.
Let me convince you.
With any relationship with a person or an animal, there is a spectrum of give and take. Ideally, you’re getting as much out of the relationship as you’re putting in. In some experiences, like raising a helpless baby, you’re putting in WAY more work than the baby (seriously babies – consider pulling your weight) BUT you’re getting a significant emotional return on that investment. Plus maybe the baby will take care of you when you’re old, so it basically all works out.
But sometimes, just every once in a miraculous while, there is a relationship where you invest barely anything and you get 15-20 odd years of love and affection in return. Yeah, I’m talking about cats. As far as effort expended and love and affection enjoyed, you’re not going to do better than a cat. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say, barring allergies or pet free living situations, everyone should have a cat, simply because I can’t think of an easier way to add happiness and love to your life.
Because look – everything else that adds joy to your life requires kind of a lot in return, frankly. We’ve already discussed how lazy babies are, but even an adult human companion? Holy cow – the talking, the emotions, the remembering of anniversaries! It is a hefty investment! Of course, it’s well worth it, but maintaining a relationship with a human is very high on the spectrum of effort.
“God this is exhausting.”
Coming in a surprisingly close second in terms of effort- dogs. I love dogs. I most especially love our sweet, adorable Archie. (I MEAN HOW COULD YOU NOT.) But they are a lot of work. If you have one from puppyhood you have to housebreak the dog, you have to teach it very important basic commands (such as please do not run into traffic or bite people, etc.) and if it has problems socializing with other dogs and/or humans, you may have to enroll it in special classes over the course of months or years. Even if you’re lucky enough to adopt an older dog like Archie who was already housebroken and knew some basic commands, they still have to be walked outside twice a day, they can have issues such as separation anxiety and they generally can get into a lot more mischief (read: expensive vet bills) than an indoor cat. The upside is that dogs are basically better than any person I know and they are full of eternal, heartwarming, kind-of-insane-when-you-think-about-it levels of love and joy.
But let’s jump waaaaaaay down on the effort list and talk about cats. These geniuses of the animal kingdom (who, by the time they are old enough to be adopted from a shelter, already understand to do their business in a little box), go home with you requiring food, water, litter box cleaning and… that’s it. That is all. You don’t have to train your cat. You don’t have to take your cat outside. (In fact, as my cats would like you to know PLEASE DO NOT TAKE US OUTSIDE.) You can buy your cat any manner of toy, but you can also give it, say, a pipe cleaner or the ring from a gallon of milk and it will be equally delighted. And an indoor cat is an incredibly independent and self reliant creature, to a degree that it’s really quite remarkable. You can’t leave a dog alone for more than 8 hours or so. You can leave a cat alone (with ample food and water) for FORTY eight hours and it’ll be just fine.
I mean, my husband and I have two wonderful, hilarious, cats, with very different personalities and styles of affection and fun, and they’re gonna be around for 15-20 years of love and fun and we just… give them some food, water and scoop some litter as needed? It’s seriously such a sweet deal.
Plus, they’re excellent nap companions. Well, one of them.
But you might be saying, I know tons of animals that require less investment than cats. Fish, for example. Well, here’s the thing about fish – they suck. Sorry, I’m just gonna come out and say it – fish are terrible pets. First of all, they don’t DO anything other than swim around in their tiny, watery prisons until one day when you’re moving your mom accidentally drops the fish tank and it shatters into a million pieces and you watch them all die while she tries frantically, but ultimately ineffectively, to save them. Or maybe that was just me! But I did have fish other than that and here is the story of all of those fish – they swam around for a bit, then they died, THE END. Fish do not develop a bond with you. They don’t have little personalities. They are never gonna be entranced by warm laundry or lasers. Not to mention, yeah, their daily upkeep of (disgusting smelling) fish flakes is pretty low, but you also have to clean their (disgusting, fish-poop-filled) tanks. And those tanks can be quite expensive!
I’m not going to go through the entire list of other low maintenance pets that are worse than cats, but I’ll just give you the gist – things like turtles, snakes, gerbils, etc. are all fine. There is nothing wrong with them. (I mean, they’re not fish.) But they aren’t going to give you the emotional connection that you get from a cat.
I mean our oldest cat, Calamity Jane, is basically as affectionate as a dog. She knows her name and will come when called. She loves snuggling in bed, she loves taking naps with Archie and she is obsessed, deeply, truly, emotionally obsessed with food.
“You have called me out on my food obsession on the internet and I will never forget it!”
If we left out food all day long she’d be the size of a house. As it is, if the dog leaves a few morsels behind I’ll watch her slowly, stealthily sneak in and try to eat it, bite at a time, as quietly as her little teeth can chew. Calamity is ungraceful, as her name implies, and stubborn. If she wants pets she’ll meow and/or bash her head against you. When she was a baby kitten she would sleep on my husband’s chest and try to suckle at his eyelids. In short, she is a lot more than a fish. (Sorry, I did not realize this was going to become an anti fish piece as much as it is a pro cat piece, but I guess now I know the fish hatred my soul secretly harbors.)
Our other little cat, Clementine, is the polar opposite of Calamity, despite being raised in the same household from kittenhood (which shows the full, interesting spectrum of cat personalities you can wind up with.) She was found in an alley by my friend Rachel and is still a bit of a wild cat at heart. She does not crave snuggles, though she likes to be in the same room as everyone else, usually sitting up high. She will nap with me though, and loves to crawl under the sheets and purr. Clementine is athletic and perpetually small, despite the fact that she loves to eat 17 times a day, if we’re home (just 2 bites at a time though, please.) She fell out of a three story window the first day we had her home (during what we suspect was a chase with Calamity that ended badly) but luckily a.) she was totally fine and b.) Calamity decided that Clemetine’s near death experience was scary enough that she wouldn’t hate her anymore and they bonded deeply from that time forward. She very much enjoys Christmas lights and destroying desk chairs.
Anyway, the probably uninteresting-to-anyone-but-me details of my cats’ personalties just go to show the rich connection you can have with a cat. More than say, a snake, AND with considerably less effort. (For example, I will never have to feed my cats a live mouse, like you would for a snake. *shudder*)
But look, I’m not trying to sell you a cat, I’m merely presenting the facts about cats that sell the idea of cats themselves. They are an impossibly great bargain. They’re smart, they’re hilarious, they have very different personalities, they have the potential to be internet stars and all you have to do is feed them twice a day and provide a box of sand for them to crap and pee in. It’s truly amazing.
So I guess what I’m saying is, if you don’t have a cat already, what are you crazy? Why don’t you remedy your insanity right here with these cats who are available for adoption?
And here’s to you, cats! From the one currently napping on my couch, to the other one currently batting around a piece of plastic, to all the other adorable, low maintenance kitties in the world – thanks for being the perfect pet investment. Or… PURRfect pet investment? Too much? I don’t know, anymore! Anyway, CATS!