Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pet Expectations

I awaken to the weight of a cat sitting on my stomach staring at me (this is pretty typical). I get up and nearly step on another cat waiting for me by the bedside. As I am walking out of the room, Marley, our Australian Shepherd, stretches and follows me. In the hallway my oldest cat starts screaming insults at me - "Feed me! It's been six hours since you last fed me! Are you crazy? I'm starving over here! Don't deprive me just because I'm older. I'm not invisible, you know!" The way the cats watch me reminds me of a scene in the movie "City of Angels", when the angels (Nicholas Cage, Andre Brauer, and others) listen and watch the sun rise over the ocean. In this scenario, the cats are the angels and I am the sun.

Yep, I'm dealing with pet expectations. My pets are family, treated like family, talked to like family, and have the expectations of humans. It's not normal, but what can I say? We have all lived together for a long time. Marley is 8 years old, Sarah and Merle are 11 years old, and Stormy is 16 years old. In odd ways our pets have taken on human traits... and then there are exceptions- like when I catch Sarah licking the painted walls or when I catch Stormy licking the finish off of photographs- actually have to hide photos from her because she will go looking for them. As far as human traits go we have our adorable female, beautiful, blue merle dog who burps like a man and...umm...farts (loud). After which, you simply wish to leave the room she is in. Of course, she follows you knowing that she is killing you slowly with her stink.

It took me a while to realize that not all dogs do this and my friends did not realize that my dog was carrying on in this fashion in front of them. So once, right after Marley pooted loudly right beside me and my friend (who has a dog), I asked her how she felt when her dog did this in front of other people. She looked at me with a clueless expression and said that she didn't understand. That's when I realized, with horror, that all of the times I have had playgroups and girlfriends at my house that people must have thought that I was BURPING and FARTING without restraint or apology in front of them...I have some diehard friends for sure.

My cats swirl around my feet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Stormy also expects "dessert" before bed. They all sample the dry catfood, but Stormy and Merle prefer the wet catfood and Sarah doesn't like it. Sarah eats cat treats in lieu of wet catfood. Marley "waits" for her chance to sneak into the cats' wet food. The pets are fed before the children in the morning because they make so much NOISE it makes me CRAZY! After the cats eat, Sarah retires for an afternoon of sleeping on the couch, Stormy sleeps in the lower bunk of Ginger Snap's bed, and Merle (don't know how she does it) gets into the top bunk of Ginger Snap's bed. Of course she can only get into the bed, not out. She cries out for me to get her down at least once a day.

I walked into the kitchen last night and this is what I heard my husband saying:
"That's it! You have to the count of three to get out of the"I turned the corner and caught him having a heart to heart with Marley, who was looking at him with big sorrowful eyes. My husband stood up quickly, smiled, and said, "She's eating things in the trash again."

I, too, have caught myself telling Stormy that she needs to stop begging for food, she needs to leave the other cats alone, she needs to pipe it down, that she's being annoying, that she needs to find something to do other than beg for food. Her favorite place to sleep is directly in front of the refrigerator doors. Sometimes, if I don't feed her fast enough she swats at my feet trying to get my attention. People are surprised by how much "personality" our cats have and how "talkative" they are. Well, we are a noisy, talkative family so I guess it goes with the territory.

So, our pets are adorable and annoying and noisy, but more than anything our pets are part of our family. I feel pretty darn lucky.

Book Review:
"Everyone Is Beautiful" by Katherine Center. A story about child rearing with a dry sense of humor. It highlights the trials and triumphs a relationship undergoes with children underfoot. It's laughter and tears, frustration and jubilation. The story is truly lovely.

Famous Quote: Ginger Snap lost her voice and told me: "Mom, I can't make loud noises. I lost my screambox."