Why getting a cat was the best and worst decision of my 20s

I am the proud owner of 6.5lbs of pure, cuddly evil. She snuggles like a champ and has a tendency to sit on your head and bite your hand as you try to move her away, knocks over anything valuable or breakable to get attention, and has a pretty dead-on BRF (ed note: bitchy resting face). Ah, cats. My little miss has been with me since I was in my very first NYC apartment, a decrepit 2-bedroom on the Upper East Side, where $825/month got me: no living room, the adjacent wall to two Russian women who loved to yell, and a bathroom that could only be accessed through my room. I barely had enough space for a full-sized bed, let alone a pet, but I had this vision of a snuggly, sweet cat that would be photogenic enough to make me Internet-famous for a few minutes and would love me forever.

dude srsly?

dude srsly?

Alas, the mild-tempered feline fantasy was shattered pretty quickly after taking little miss home back in March 2011. She’s skiddish, rude, generally hates anyone that isn’t me and pretty much hates me too. She’s also loyal, funny, energetic and completely devoted to me. She’s like a grumpy roommate who’s desperate for attention but hates all my friends. And yet, if I had the chance to go back to the shelter on that cold March day and choose again, I’d pick her every time.

There are, however, a few things I wish I’d considered first:

  • Everyone is allergic to cats. Everyone. Oh, your friend says they’re not allergic so they can come over? Nope, give it 3 minutes and their eyes will be watering and you’ll feel like an asshole, especially when the cat responds to their obvious discomfort by swatting their exposed skin with her razor-sharp claws.
  • Have you ever heard anyone say “I really enjoy cleaning the litterbox”?
  • People will call you a “cat person” like it’s an insult. First, it’s not an insult, cats are adorable and I’m all about it. But in reality, I’m an equal opportunity pet owner. Love cats, dogs, hamsters, fish, fennec foxes, you name it (except frogs, frogs are awful). Plus, if the most distinguishing feature about me is the fact that I own a cat, then I need to do some serious soul-searching.
  • Do you really like that sweater? Old wicker trunk? Glass object you keep on the edge of your tall dresser? Good, so does your cat and she’s going to destroy them to show you how much.
  • Hairballs. I won’t elaborate.

Hindsight. But with all of that, I also come home every night to this little bundle of energy that’s been waiting for me all day. She’s a great excuse when I’m trying to dodge a creeper at a bar (“Nope, can’t keep talking to you, gotta get home and take care of the cat.” Inevitable response: see first bullet above). She likes to meow at me when I sneeze and thinks its fun to sleep on the TV stand. She eschews people food in favor of cardboard, tape and stiff plastic and she figured out a few months ago that if she sleeps next to me when I’ve had a bad night, she’ll get extra attention and love in the morning for making me feel like I’m never really alone.

The most informed decision of my early 20s? Not even close. But a good reminder that sometimes the bad decisions turn out alright in the end.

 

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