Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Stresses of Pet-Ownership

DISCLAIMER: This post is about the stress I am experiencing as a BRAND NEW, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, PET OWNER. It is not about how I feel about our new Kitten. I absolutely love our new kitten. In fact, while I'm at work, I actually miss him and think about it. But that does not stop me from being stressed out. Going from not ever having owned a pet to now owing one at my age is truly a life-changing experience. I speak about the stress of such a life-changing experience. Please do NOT assume that I have a poor attitude towards my new kitten. Please do not tell me to return my kitten or give it up. That is not the issue I'm discussing here. The issue is my stress. And just because I'm stressed does not meant that I have a poor attitude towards my kitten. It merely means I'm stressed and that I am to learn to deal with my stress. That's all. Please do not read into it anymore than what it is.


I’ve never owned a pet in my life. Unless you count a Turtle for about 3 days, a Chick for 2 days and a Puppy for about 4 hours.

Sadly as it sounds, I have simply never owned a pet for an extended period of time. In my childhood, it’s certainly not for the lack of want. I wanted a pet – a dog preferably, but would have settled for a pet rabbit, but my parents were fastidious about the pristine condition of their home. Despite the aid of a housekeeper, my parents refused to get my brother and I a pet. Afterall, we travelled frequently and they liked a spotless house.

When we had our daughter Kitty, I told myself that if she ever wanted a pet, I would consider it. But as she grew up and as I grew older and more set in my ways, I found that I was becoming more and more like my parents. I really didn’t want a pet in the house.

I like our house and our dark hardwood floors and light interior. I like a squeaky clean floor and that’s why I have cleaners come weekly to clean. I like our lifestyle where we can come and go as we please without the responsibility of pets. I like the fact that we go away on a couple of 2 week vacations each year and weekends away. I like having freedom.

Then one day, last December, while lying in bed, Honey turned to me and said, “Let’s get Kitty a kitten.” “A Kitten.” I replied. “Yes”, he said, “I think it would be a great idea. It would teach her responsibility and keep her company since she’s an only child.” I responded, “Let me think about it”, hoping that it was simply a passing fancy.

Honey and Kitty both brought up the subject once again in January 2010 and then again in February. And during our trip to Disneyworld, Orlando, we made a family decision to adopt a Kitten.

We returned from our trip in March 2010 and proceeded to work with a local Ragdoll Cat breeder for a Lilac Bicolor Ragdoll. While we waited and waited for the arrival of our little kitten, I was silently stressing about the pressures involved in Pet Ownership.

But each and every time my stress about our upcoming pet reared its head, I managed to talk myself out of the stress… to the point where I was rather excited about the arrival of our new family member.

Last Saturday, the day finally arrived where we were able to pick up our 12 week old Ragdoll Kitten. We drove out to Delta to our Breeders home and picked up our little Kitten. He’s darling! He’s absolutely beautiful. He’s smart (but what do I know, I’ve never ever had a pet before) and he’s soooooooo cuuuute!

The first couple of days at our place was very rough. He cried lots. He refused to eat or drink. He hid the entire time and wanted nothing to do with Honey or Kitty for that matter. He had numerous accidents outside the Litter Box. To top it off, our daughter Kitty was terribly upset. She cried that her new kitten didn’t like her. That made me very sad but I explained that the kitten had been taken from his family and brought to another family of giants and if that happened to her, she probably would be doing exactly what the little kitten was doing. She understood and felt much better.

It was a very rough. For the kitten and for us. I broke out in hives, on my forearm and upper arm, on my shins, calves and behind my knees. I even broke out along my belly. Kitty too had rashes on her legs and on her arms and she’s having sneezing fits – up to about a dozen each evening. I guess we’re all somewhat allergic to our new kitten…. Or maybe we were just stressed from our new kitten. We then found out on the 3rd day that Honey too is allergic to the kitten. (We didn’t know at first for the kitten wanted nothing to do with him. But after a few pieces of Pure Bites Freeze Dried Chicken Breast, the kitten was all over Honey) and that’s when his suffered full-blown allergies. Not only that, I’m sooooo very stressed out because I’m following our new kitten around our house fearing that he’s going to have another accidents or that he’s going to take that 12 foot jump from our foyer to the basement. He’s constantly meowing and wants to be carried everywhere. As soon as I put him down, he’s meowing again. We used to have such a quiet home. Now all I hear is meowing. I can’t workout for fear that I’m going to crush him with the steps on my Elliptical. I can’t put him in another room because I have an open concept house where only the bedrooms and washrooms have doors and putting him in another room meowing away while I work out will simply wake Kitty and Honey up. I know, I know. I sound like a whiny child. I’m sorry. But I am on edge every moment I’m at home so much so that I’ve got a painful stress knot at the base of my neck… and that’s only after 5 days. My friends have told me that all this will pass. But when???

After 5 days, Honey and I still aren’t convinced that we can become Pet-People. We are not bad people. We really aren’t. We’re just not pet people. He’s never had a pet his entire life. Neither have I. If we had had pets previously, we would have known what to expect. We honestly didn’t. We are so very set in our ways. After all, I’m almost 45 and he’s almost 50 (okay next year). We love the lifestyle we have. We love our home with all of our pale furniture. We are highly sensitive to smells and we suffer from allergies (to varying degrees). Kitty on the other hand is head-over-heels in love with this new kitten. She’s hugging it, kissing it, carrying it everywhere despite her allergies.

My home used to be my sanctuary. I have a high stress job and when I get home, I want to relax and get away from the demands of life. But now, I feel that I can’t get away from the demands at all. I have demands at work and I have demands from the kitten at home.

I know that the kitten will likely outgrow his demanding nature in time. I just don’t know if I can last that long. Please don’t judge me. Please refrain from thinking that I’m some horrible person or animal hater. I am neither. I am simply set in my ways. But I love my daughter so much that I would do whatever she wants.

If she wants to keep the kitten, we will keep the kitten. And if she finds that her allergies are too much to bear and want to give up the kitten, I will support her decision as well. Anyway, that’s the stress I’ve been under. It’s crazy, I know. It’s crazy that I can manage a multi-million dollar business but I can’t deal with the demands of a baby kitten. It’s just crazy!

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I now understand what my parents were going through when they told me and my brother that we couldn’t have a pet. There is a lot of responsibility that goes along with Pet Ownership. Honey and I honestly thought long and hard over this decision. We really did. But I don’t think that we truly realized the impact this new kitten was going to have on our lives.

I guess we’ll just have to learn to deal with it. I guess I will have to learn to stop stressing… URGH! The Stress of Pet-Ownership!


Jordyn said...

Please do not feel like you are a horrible person. I have a siamese cat (he is now 6) and he was such a pain as a everything, meowing all the time, crying outside the bedroom door at night...and he has turned into a wonderful pet. he grew out of all those crazy habits. Some tips: give the kitten a blanket and toy, also put a hot water bottle or heating pad under the blanket...the kitten should like this and identify it as his. I would suggest giving it another two weeks if you can, things will settle down by then. (However, if the allergies are too much for the three of you, giving him a different home may be your best bet.) have to do what is best for you and your family...and ultimately whatever you decide will be best for the kitten in the long run too:)

Mia said...

I'm sorry, but this post makes me angry. I wish I hadn't read it.

Please do the kitten a favour and just return it to the breeder. Everyone will be better off.

-carolyne- said...

I'm curious as to why you opted to go to a breeder rather than the local SPCA or pet shelter where there are plenty of animals who are in need of a good loving home?

Popbabe7 said...

I have to say I agree with Mia and Carolyn on this one. Wish I didn't read this. I can't understand your attitude towards this kitten. I think it would be better if you found a new home for him.

Popbabe7 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crew_Girl_In_Canada said...

Thanks Jordan for the kind words. With each day that goes by, our little kitten is getting used to us and us to him. I know that in time everything will work out. Everything works out eventually. I think that I have unreasonable expectations at times... but I'm learning. It's all good. Thanks again for your kind words. It is much appreciated.

Sorry Mia, it wasn't my intent to upset you. Our intent is to keep this kitten. The only reason we would ever give it up is if our allergies are so sever that we have no other choice. But as of now, our allergies appear to be bearable and under control. As I had mentioned in my earlier post to Jordan, the kitten is slowly getting used to us as we are to him. Please bear in mind, we have never owned a pet in our lives. To have one is a life-changing experience and with all life-changing experience, there are stresses and that's what I speak to in my post. My post is about my stress and not my feelings or attitude towards my new kitten.

Hi -Carolyn-, we did go to our SPCA as well as to our local Animal Shelter. On the 3 occassions that we did go, one of us was either scratched, bit or attacked by a cat. So after having conversations with different people, we decided to work with a breeder to get a breed that would work best for our family. I am very happy with this particular breed. From what we've heard from other new Cat owners, we've had it easy. Apparently it could have been a lot worse.

Popbabe7, sorry if you were upset by my post. My attitude is not directed at the kitten. I have not and will not at any time hurt our little kitten. In my post, I discussed the stress I'm experiencing caused by the kitten. It does not speak about how I feel about the kitten. Although I did not write this in my post, I really like our new kitten. I spend a lot of time with him so much so that out of everyone in the home, he follows me around the most. But that's neither here nor there because my post is not about how I like or love our kitten, it is about the stress I'm experiencing as an UNEXPERIENCED and NEW PET OWNER. Please don't assume that I've got a poor attitude towards our new kitten. It is far from it. I love our new kitten but that does not mean that I'm not experiencing stress from having a new kitten. Those are 2 very separate and distint issues.

Closet Crisis said...

I grew up with a mom that didn't want pets in the house because she didn't want to do extra work and keep the place clean (by her standards). So I've grown up wanting a dog or cat, but can't have a cat because I'm allergic to them. As for dogs, my last boyfriend has 2, and I couldn't handle how much work it takes to walk/clean/groom/feed/care for them. So guess I'm going to be a non-pet person.

If I was ever going to get a dog, I'd have to be with someone who is experienced to help me become a Pet-person.

Pat on back for you for trying so hard, but at some point you have to decide on what's going to make you and your family happy. Maybe a cat isn't it.

Margaret said...

I imagine it would be stressful to make a lifestyle change like this! I have always had cats but we did just get KITTENS for my 10 year old daughters. In terms of creating a relationship between them and their kittens, we kept each kitten in their bedroom with food and a litter box for the first 2 weeks. Each kitten associated her girl with food and affection, felt less "lost" since they were just in one room, and bonded with the girl rather than the other kitten (not an issue you have!). You may want to try something to make sure that your Kitty will bond with her kitten and vice versa. After one week, we started doing it at night only, etc. So it was a graduated process. I can also say that these kittens took us from 2 cats to 2 cats plus 2 kittens and that is a big change too! Good luck!

Sarah said...

Oh, yeah, kittens are tough. I have mostly started with cats slightly older, so their personalities have already developed.
I agree with Margaret`s point- giving the kitten a smaller environment for adaptation certainly helps ( and simplifies bonding). I have a lovely Maine Coon who was quite scared when I brought him to his new home (he was already 2) so we kept him in one room for a week, where I spent hours just reading and hanging out with him and now we`re inseparable!

Good luck- I`ve heard ragdolls are really sweet.

Popbabe7 said...

Thanks for giving me some clarification. Reading your post it really sounded like this kitten was more of a nuisance than anything, but maybe I just misunderstood. You were probably tired and upset, and needed to share your frustration, however you did come accross as quite negative. The reaction from me and other readers seems to reflect this, I wasn't alone thinking you were really seeing the kitten as a problem. I am relieved you put the disclaimer to explain your point of view. Good luck and hope things get better.

Nina said...

Are you actually telling me that a kitten meows?!? You must be lying. Next thing you're gonna say is that he's scratching the furniture.
Umm, exaggerate much? You are a totally ridiculous for saying that you got 'attacked' by a shelter cat. I almost spit out my soup on reading that one. Animals kept in cages are going to be scared when you first are introduced to them. There are also pregnant cats at shelters so you could've adopted one of those kittens and not have to experience those vicious, monstrous attacking shelter cats.
When you adopt from a shelter, they make you fill out a lengthy form with many questions intended to weed out people like you. Breeders, and those who purchase from breeders, are disgusting. My husband and I rescue strays ('stressed out' owners often put their animals out) and foster shelter cats that otherwise would be euthanized. The fact that you didn't adopt from a shelter is reprehensible. Do something decent and selfless in your life for once, fatty.

doylestown dixie said...

Since you've never had pets before, I think a kitten was a good choice. My husband and I, who love cats, have joked that they're one step away from plants in terms of maintenance: self-cleaning, independent, and don't need to be walked! That said, this is a social animal: That meowing is healthy communication, not something to be stressed by. Talk to her, use her name often (which she'll learn quickly) and let her know which behaviors are wrong. (For kittens, a gentle blow of air on the nose and saying "no" will stop them from the offensive action.) If she has an accident, show her where the litter box is again, gently placing her in and praising her each time she's in it. Praise goes MUCH further than rebukes with all animals. Above all, treat her with love. Cats are very smart and tend to mirror the treatment they receive: She'll sense if you're standoffish and reluctant to cuddle, and as a result you'll have a less-affectionate adult cat. The choice is yours: you can have a well-behaved, affectionate, truly loving member of the family if you invest in her now. There's no reason to have to choose between a pristine house and pets. (We have both. Off-white upholstery, antiques, and 3 cats.) That said, be realistic: you can't expect a house to show NO sign of PEOPLE living there, so the same goes for animals. Both children and pets are healthy reminders that perfection isn't always the best thing in a home: love is. And flexibility. And opening one's heart to change, imperfections and all. It's always enriching and worth it.

Anonymous said...

I hope the kitten situation is improving. I have to admit, I'm a little biased against people who don't like pets, but you seem ok because you like them; you just don't know how to own one.

Cats are wildly different than dogs. I think dogs are a little more forgiving with regards to what kind of treatment they're willing to take. Cats, on the other hand, will remember that time last week when you dressed them up and made them dance for a youtube video!

It's an unfortunate turn of events that you're allergic to your cat, but maybe there's some medication you can take. You might just need an adjustment period, too. I hope you can make the situation work with your new pet. Just remember, if you can't meet all of its needs, in particular, social, you should see about returning it to the breeder. It isn't fair to judge you for having difficulties with your new pet, as you never had the experience of being a pet owner, but you can be judged for how you handle the situation, moving forward.

In parting, I'd like to let you know that my cat is much more affectionate and social at 7 than he was as kitten. As previously mentioned, you build a rapport with cats over time. I'd give it about a month or two before making a decision about how the living arrangements are working out. I hope things are going better!

The Chic Chauffeur said...

Hi, I just found your blog, and wondered whatever happened with your kitten. Our family lost our dog recently, and my husband and I decided that we needed a 'pet break', for a lot of the reasons you listed as hesitations for getting a pet to begin with. Certainly that does not make us bad people, nor does it make you a bad person!! Sometimes what is the right lifestyle for one family is different that what is right for another.

It made me sad to read the negative comments that were left, and I hope they didn't put you off of blogging. No one is forced to read another persons blog, nor to keep reading it if it contains things that seem disagreeable. I am always amused by the number of people who seem to think they can change the world by a comment......even when the world doesn't really need to be changed!

best, the chic chauffeur