I think we are petless.
Last Tuesday our cat, Grace, ran out the door and we haven’t seen her since. Being that she was raised as an indoor-only cat, she had no collar or tags. She has gone out a few times before and stayed out two or three days, but during those times I have sighted her around the property before she actually deigned to come back in the house. This time, I have seen hide nor hair of her and it’s been six days, not two or three. Tomorrow I will call the local shelter and see if she’s been turned in; however, she is not friendly to strangers and I can’t imagine anyone could get close enough to her to catch her.
I am left with mixed emotions. I am an advocate for animals. I love animals. This was an animal which I committed to care for and I’ve failed in that. As annoying as she’d become, I didn’t wish anything bad to happen to her. No animal deserves an untimely death or mistreatment. I don’t feel like I have any right to hope for or root for another living being’s demise. I was prepared to let her live out the rest of her natural life with us, taking care of her despite her foibles, because it was the right thing to do.
On the other hand, I am now faced with the prospect of being pet-free for the first time in twenty-two years. Since I got my dog when I was 15 I have always had at least one pet at all times; usually more. Besides the obvious hair and poop issues, having pets it also a logistical nightmare for people who travel as much as we do. It adds stress to a situation (getting ready to go on a trip) that already causes me a lot of anxiety.
There’s another thing – the anxiety I just mentioned? It really kicks in when a pet becomes ill. It’s very upsetting to me, not to mention dealing with the prospect of obtaining veterinary care when it’s sometimes not in the budget.
What I’m getting at is, after more than two decades, I am tired. I am tired of hair everywhere, “presents” on the floor every morning, the stress, the worry. I had thirteen – THIRTEEN – guinea pigs at one time, folks. It took me two hours just to clean all the cages. I spent thousands (yes, thousands) of dollars on vet care for them, ferrying them back and forth from where we live to an exotics vet in Guthrie (110 miles ONE. WAY.). I spent countless hours doing nursing care on sick guineas at home and had genuine anxiety and a legitimate grieving process when each was sick and subsequently died. It still hurts my heart to think of Cosmo, our cat who went missing a year ago, and, not only that, I still have never gotten over the death of my dog, Baby, over ten years ago.
I’m officially exhausted.
I’m exhausted from both an emotional and a practical standpoint. I am ready to not have to clean up barfed-up hairballs and crap from the floor and to not have a fine coating of hair on everything I own. I am ready to prepare for a trip and only have to worry about packing clothing and stopping the mail; maybe getting my brother-in-law to stop by just once while we’re gone to check on the house. I feel like I’ve given all the concern and affection and time that I can muster to pets and I don’t have any left. When having pets ceases to be a joy and becomes drudgery, it’s time to stop having pets.
I just wish it had happened with a happier ending. I’m sorry, Grace.