To date, in this household, we have three cats and two dogs. I’m reasonably sure that’s not legal – the city code says three animals, no more than two of the same type. To be fair, this isn’t the most animals we’ve had in this house, but it is at times a concern. The answer appears to be “ensure they are rehomed to owners who will love and care for them,” or alternatively “sacrifice them to the dark gods.” Neither of these are likely to happen. More likely, if I find myself in legal trouble of some sort, I’ll just need to reaffirm that one of the cats is for all intensive purposes a well-kept stray.
This is after quite a bit of thought. The problem with animals is that they are kind of like children. If someone said “choose one child to get rid of” the answer becomes clear – the one that poops everywhere and gets into everything. But maybe that one is cute or your partial to it, or maybe you hate it pooping on the floor a lot less than the other child who scratches at you every time you try to pick it up. Eventually you get angry and throw them all out and then the Department of Children and Family Services comes to your door.
Wait, I’m not sure if I’m talking about kids or animals anymore.
The truth of the matter is, I grew up around animals, but for most of my adult life only had one cat and one dog… and the cat, it should be noted, ran away. As a younger child, we had a gray and white long haired named “Soccer” who was my stepdad’s pride and joy. He was, in some abstract way, as huge as a soccer ball, apparently. We also had Willis, a black terrier who was named because when the dog was barking at the animal shelter my stepdad said “What are you talking about, Willis?” This is kind of a racist thing to call a dog, in hindsight, but younger me growing up in Montana didn’t even catch the reference at the time. We also had a small black and white mutt named “Baby,” a fixed female who would often escape from our yard and go over to the neighbor’s and beg for food. She’s return a few hours later if we didn’t catch her. The neighbors were an older couple with a granddaughter who visited frequently; when the older gentleman passed away, it became clear that Baby was a helpful coping mechanism and welcome visitor for the widow and so after a few months arrangements were made to let the dog stay at that household full time. She would still visit, though, as she could. It seems like she just kept getting fatter and fatter.
Sadly, but not unexpectedly, they have all since passed away. When my parents divorced, there was a bitter feud over Willis. He would live with my stepfather, and then be hit by a car under questionable circumstances. Baby passed away fat and happy. There were a few other cats, cockatiels, and so many fish along the way.
As a young adult, I had an adorable puppy named Marcus. Marcus was a black terrier mix and I forgot how we decided on the name, but my roommate and the woman I was dating at the time (two different people!) had a hand in choosing the name. He was a friendly dog who loved riding in my truck but was really clingy. He moved with me to Illinois, but did not adjust well to being left with other people. In what was a bitter point of contention, I made the decision he’d live a fuller life if he were with another family, and made arrangements for him to be rehomed. I discovered after the fact that he had several abscesses and a few rotten teeth. His new owners renamed him, and I didn’t keep in touch because it hurt too much. I recently learned he passed away August 2018 of natural causes and was surrounded by those who loved him.
Currently, as I mentioned above, we have three cats. One of the cats, Martin, is a black and white short-hair tabby that was one of two given to my oldest son by his father when he 5 years old. I don’t know what sort of people just spring two kittens on a five year old but that was a thing that actually happened. Chris and Martin were named after the popular Wild Kratts brothers. Chris passed away after complications with kidney stones; Martin has had a few close calls, but getting him neutered has seemed to have helped. For a while I absolutely hated this cat because it sprayed everything.
We also have an orange-and-white tabby named Oberon. We adopted this cat because… my wife wanted a cat of her own at the time. Fitting, then, that this cat would become my oldest’s son’s cat. Also, when we picked up this cat, it was so small. Now it’s the size of a pillow. Part of that is the long hair, but part of that is just the build of the cat in general. Oberon is a rather well behaved cat.
We also have Clover. Clover is a tortoise shell with one hell of an attitude. She can be friendly or mean at the drop of a hat. She has decided that she is an outdoor cat, which isn’t too surprising as her parents were barn cats. For the last couple of years, various techniques were used to keep the cat inside, but Clover always found a way to sneak out. Then she’d return, sometimes days later and sometimes hours. Frustratingly, as the years have gone by, she’s decided to be outside more and more; on Nextdoor.com she’s been spotted by neighbors over 5 blocks away. She’s also a skilled hunter, which is unfortunate for any mice that come her way… and also birds, and rabbits. She is just a small cat, but she will kill a rabbit like it’s a threat to humanity. As much as I adore the cat, I often think of rehoming her to a farm or a property with a large area she can explore. Especially with this colder weather. Want the cat to be healthy and safe. Until then, I’ll just have to continue to be used to her climbing on the roof and meowing at the window to my wife’s bedroom, because this is more effective for her than coming to a door.
We have a Yorkie-shittzu mix named Rosie, so called because she was meant to be a companion dog. She’s friendly but she probably needs to be fixed. She still has accidents in the house, which is problematic. She also has accidents when she gets excited. That said, she tries. She’s not very smart, but she doesn’t have to be. She has to be watched because bicycles turn on something in her brain that makes her want to murder nations and destroy universes.
Our wife convinced me she needed a Corgi, so we got one named Wiki (because he’s smart like he knows everything.) He is too smart for his own good. He’s the one that escaped the back yard while my oldest was watching him, only to get picked up by some people who wished to do well… who took him 2 hours to their home because they couldn’t find an open shelter. He needs lots of chew toys and a fair bit of love. He’s very affectionate, which is a good thing except for when I’m trying to sleep and he decides he needs a human to lay on. Once my finances are better I think I’ll get him a harness and get him used to the idea of regular walks. He’s not a high maintenance dog per se, but needs full attention in spurts.
Outside of conceding that an “outdoor cat” really should be in an environment that can support it and help it thrive, it’s hard to look at these animals and decide which would have to go in an emergency. It can certainly be overwhelming, to have stewardship over 5 animals and also three kids. Hopefully these pets can continue to be happy here, and also well taken care of. We’ll see.