The dilemma of getting a pet

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On March 7th it will be exactly one year since my partner Matt and I became pet-owners. Here’s how it happened.

One warm Saturday night in February 2012, we were sitting down to watch Tinker, Tailor. Soldier, Spy (I don’t believe anyone who claims they understood that movie, by the way) when we heard a tiny thing meowing at the front door.

We ignored it for a few minutes but the persistent little kitten did not go away. We figured it might leave peacefully if we fed it. I now know how misguided this was. As we had eaten roast duck for dinner, that was what the kitten ate and not surprisingly the meowing continued.

After reading online that we could be fined a large amount of money for detaining someone else’s pet in our house, we borrowed a neighbour’s cat carrier and took the kitten to the local animal shelter. We took a reference number when dropping the kitten off, and started thinking about whether we should adopt the kitten ourselves, as we knew that if it wasn’t claimed or adopted it would be euthanised. The vet had told us the kitten was female, and it was around that time we began referring to our little orphan as Annie.

We went home and continued to watch the movie. In retrospect, my failure to follow the plot was probably due to daydreaming of my new life as a cat-owner whose baby had quite literally turned up on the doorstep.

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Despite not being a cat-lover (yet), I couldn’t simply dismiss a little kitten (whose life was literally in our hands) just because its arrival wasn’t in my life plan. The fact that the cat somehow ‘chose us’ only added to the feeling that this new addition was meant to be.

The following weeks involved a call to our land-lady (who turned out to be feline-friendly) and many more to the shelter to check on Annie’s status.

In the end, due to a case of Cat Flu (which is, in fact, a strain of herpes!) the only alternative to us adopting her was to have her put to sleep. Luckily we were well and truly committed to pet ownership by that stage and Annie was ready to join her new adoptive parents.

Unlike most adoptions (I imagine) ours involved a last-minute gender-check and the revelation that Annie was in fact male. We renamed him Nobby that afternoon and I can safely say that he is the most delightful addition to our family.

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My biggest reservation to getting a pet was the idea that they tie you down, and I still feel that even though pets don’t have to restrict your actions, if you are a responsible pet owner they probably will.

Cats live a long time. I wonder what will happen if I get another opportunity to live overseas. Would it be cruel to put Nobby in quarantine so we could be reunited in another country? Or heartless to give him away to another family?

Thankfully these aren’t decisions I have to make at the moment, however I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences.

So tell me, have you ever faced the dilemma of getting a pet?

4 comments

  1. Cindy says:

    I’ve written before about adopting a Balinese puppy (Mellon) while I lived there. And now I’m in Honolulu, so I can speak a bit on whether pets restrict your actions.

    I am evidence that you don’t have to. Mellon unfortunately couldn’t make it out to Hawaii, because of a strict regulation of 4 months in quarantine for any incoming pet (Hawaii is rabies-free, so this is a serious issue for them). I tried to find a way to bypass this quarantine rule, but couldn’t. In the end, I had to look for a new family for Mellon. I was really lucky and found an amazing person through friend of a friend who now not only spoils Mellon more than I did, but also frequently updates about Mellon on Facebook so I can still keep tabs on this “first child” of mine.

    Emotionally, it’s pretty tolling. Especially because my SO and I raised Mellon since she was basically a month old pup. BUT, knowing that she is still in her hometown (she is basically a semi-feral, street dog who had small farms and jungles to roam in…not sure how she’d do confined in a house in suburban Honolulu), and that she is now in better care than we could ever provide makes it a lot easier to think back upon.

    Anyway, sorry. This comment became a diary entry, haha. As you can see, it’s such an important issue in my life still! I hope you don’t have to part with Nobby like I had to with Mellon, but if it happens, just remember it all works out in the end.

  2. Caroline says:

    Thanks for your comment, Cindy.
    I’m so glad to hear you found a great home for Mellon, and it’s wonderful that you can keep an eye on her via Facebook!
    I think it’s important to remember that, heartbreaking as it may be to admit, pets can survive and even thrive with a new family.
    You really proved your love for Mellon by letting her stay in Bali.
    Thanks for sharing!

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