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Pets: when you can’t say no anymore

6 Oct

We are not a pet family. In almost 13 years of marriage, we barely had a forced cat-adoption, a mutant bunny and a hamster that mysteriously disappeared.

I feel that I need to insert a disclaimer at this point to make sure you don’t think that we hate or hurt animals. Our dear cat chose to come stay with us and abandoned her previous owners (surely that speaks well of us, right?) and puberty had the better of the bunny who nearly removed Phillip’s finger before escaping. As for the hamster, while we’re still wondering how he got out of his cage, his body was discovered floating in our pool.

With our kids growing up, we get the occasional “Can we please have – insert flavour of the month – for a pet?”, to which we obviously respond with a “Hmm, let’s think about that” (which means over-my-dead-body). It usually quickly gets forgotten. However, lately, Léanna has been persistent with her idea of having a dwarf rabbit (I guess all this talk about being perseverant did sink in. Darn it!) Fortunately, in spite of my recurrent bunny-from-hell nightmare, I’m not entirely against the idea of owning a Thumper. So we eventually agreed that she could have one for her birthday.

Some reeeeaaaaally cool people in our Bible Study (they’ll be so happy to be mentioned here, they’re my biggest only blog-fan!!!) love DIY jobs and are really good at it. In the same way that I take a book to relax, he builds things in his garage. Besides, they are also bunny-lovers (they don’t have kids, that’s why…) and lately he’s been building rabbit-hutches for Africa. So naturally, I’ve asked politely, in my very non-subtle French way if he would perhaps build a hutch for us; and because they are such great people, they freely gave away their entire Sunday afternoon to come and build with not only the most non-DIY people in the neighbourhood but also with our two boys “helping” – and by helping, I mean “hindering”.

Now by now, you should know that I sometimes exaggerate. So no, we are not completely hopeless, my boys are not so bad and they are not that cool!!

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Miko, a very patient (and a little cool) teacher

Miko, a very patient (and a little cool) teacher, with my 2 kids in front and a 3rd one hiding behind, all posing very proudly.

So here we are, with a rustic homemade hutch. I love the rugged look: planks are not completely straight, there is a gap at the back and the roof is not fixed but I would have it no other way. The boys were very proud of their work, Léa was very excited and I am very thankful to Miko and Mary for making this project happen.

All we need now is a bunny… but more of that in another post!

Fela Kuti, the cat. Not the musician.

30 Jan

Warning: Cat lovers, defamation of cats ahead.

A close cousin of Fela

A close cousin of Fela

Growing up, we had a poodle dog that loved my mum very much but would growl at us if we came too close. Later on, I convinced my mum to let me have a cat. Caramel was his name. He was a fat cat living in a flat, he never went out, hissed at anyone not carrying our family name and lived solely for his next meal (unless he stole the defrosting steak on the table). And yet, I kept a strange endearing love for cats – maybe encouraged by the thousands of cat pics on Facebook.

When we got married, Phillip and I decided to go for for a dwarf rabbit. Cookie the rabbit. Our sweet rabbit peed on our couch, nearly removed my husband’s finger and sprayed some weird smelling substance onto our neighbour’s cat. Cookie the rabbit turned out to be quite dreadful. During the slow metamorphosis of Cookie the rabbit into Chucky the rabbit, we also adopted our neighbour’s cat that we renamed Cookie. I know, we’re not very original in the ‘name’ department. Sadly, it got bitten by a dog and died. Then we had hamsters which we didn’t bother to name at all and in the end, they were so neglected that they escaped and drowned in our pool. RIP unnamed hamsters.

Today, we don’t have pets at home. None. Not even a goldfish. Can you blame us!

My husband and I  haven’t been able to agree on which creature to live with. I would totally go for a cat (sweet memories of Caramel stealing my food and scaring my friends maybe…) but Phillip is supposedly allergic to them – clearly a made up excuse, I mean, who complains about sinus infections… As for dogs, I’m allergic to their poos in my garden, their incessant barking and also their there’s-a-dead-rat-hidden-in-my-fur smell. Obviously a legitimate excuse. So far, we’ve reached an acceptable compromise and remained pet-free.

However, the fleshes of our fleshes are asking for a pet. Every other family has a pet, they say. This comparison trap will kill me. Do they compare when they get chocolate for breakfast and stay up until 10? Sigh…

So this week end, when my BFF asked me if we could look after her cat while she’s away on business, I thought it would be a great way to verify my husband’s fake excuse and see how the kids would behave with Madame Fela around.

When I say ‘looking after’, I realise now that I meant ‘stalking’. Fela the cat arrived on Sunday and, since then, had 3 mini humans following her EVERY-WHERE. When she sleeps, they pick her up. When she eats, they stroke her. When she goes out, they freak out. When she isn’t doing anything, they stare.

Fela looks so happy connecting.

Fela looks so happy connecting.

Needless to say, Fela is confused. The kids have tried to form a bond with her in a way that is radically different than the way Fela tried to connect with us, in her own cat way, displaying some of her great qualities.

#1. She is merciful. She looks at us warning us not come any closer for fear of scratching our eyes out.

#2. She is caring. When we want to stroke her, she arches her back very low on the ground, just so that we wouldn’t touch her and dirty our hands.

#3. She is independent. When we call her, she doesn’t even look at us.

#4. She is helpful and likes to share. Every morning, I find the remain carcasses of the insects she hunted, clearly wanting to share her bunty.

#5. She is communicative. One day, I asked everyone in the house to be very quiet and we almost heard a faint purr. Such a loving pet…

What’s not to love?!

Fela not making eye contact

Fela not making eye contact

Consider the educational opportunities we were offered on a silver platter: They learnt to give without expecting anything in return. They learnt that love is a choice and it hurts (so do scratches). They  learnt that – unlike their mum – Fela is not there to serve them but instead, they are here to serve her.

And so I ask, with tremor in my voice, why can’t we have a cat? But Phillip is not buying it. He has, with tears in his eyes, (due to his “allergies” he claims) won this battle. We will not have a cat.

I wonder, what are the educational benefits for the kids of having a fun pet like a dog.

Really.

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