Thursday, July 22, 2010

A portrait of the artist as a young hypocrite

... or a future old cat lady.

Growing up, I never had a real pet. Sure I had Zebra Finches, which quickly multiplied from two to six, and two turtles that never did much of anything really, but not real cuddlesome dogs and cats and bunnies, or even fun farm-child barn animals like horses, or sheep, or chickens. Nada.

On the hypothetical level, along with ideas on the ilk of "Where (when) would you travel if you had a time machine?", or "What famous person, dead or alive, would you most want to have over for dinner?" I've always identified myself as a dog person.

Dog are genuinely happy to see you when you come home, they like to hike and are unnaturally grateful for having a ball thrown in their immediate vicinity. They're like four-legged Prozac in their mood-altering capacity. On the hypothetical level that is.

In my immediate, very real life, I've for years now thought of having a household pet (for me personally that is, this like all other personal matters is, just that; personal) as willingly fostering one more carnivore that will consume this planets resources. I was raised to believe that the personal is the political, and have a tendency to over-think all major life decisions, as well a minute ones, based on this belief. (Fun fact: I frequently fret over the amount of electricity my internet-life uses.)

I kid you not, the idea of having a tinned meat eating animal, in addition to a non-tinned meat eating husband and potentially a meat-eating child (just the one, another anguished moral decision strictly in the hypothetical realm), seemed as distant to me as immigrating to the Leisure Colonies Of Mars, in my golden years (circa 2093 AD). Until Saturday two weeks ago, that is.
I don't have a baby...
I blame Blake and Julie.
in fact she likes to sleep
A while back they brought their kitten, Tigger, over for dinner with them. I was charmed, but my hubby, well he was smitten. Rarely have I ever seen C. so happy than when the little critter chose him for its nap-surface.
you up when there's nothing wrong
After the dinner he mentioned having a cat periodically. I objected. There's another hitch, you see: I like cats fine, though hypothetically, as previously stated, I'm a dog person, BUT I love birds. The kings of the air, the jumpers and jitterers, the singers of heavenly grace. We live in a park, our life is a birdsong, from dusk 'till dawn. No way would I ever introduce an alien life-form who appears to be designed to kill these creatures. Never. (If you do not believe this is a serious concern, check out The World Without Us. Heck, check it out anyway, it's a fun thought experiment. )
You can leave it
(C:"I look like some sort of crazy mountain man in his cabin-schack!")

"So", I hear you ask "We get it, serious personal belief, Buddhism, self-righteousness, leave no trace, blah, blah, blah...BUT aren't you cuddling a freaking kitten in these pictures!?!?!!?!??!"
And thank GOD because
Well, in a word, yes. But I feel really bad about it. Well, okay, that's actually a lie. I love the kitten, which I got, somewhat on a whim, from a box infront of the bakery, one day after work. Partly, I will admit, because it was the last one left, and partly because we no longer have chickens, but mostly because I knew how happy it would make C.
in the car
(When kittens get kitten-colds they need their own Pendleton wool blankies and miniature hot-water-bottles. Scarves and mason jars, actually.)

So there you have it. I'm a hypocrite. Not like a tremendous hypocrite like our last president for instance, just your average, normal-sized eat-your-words-at-the-drop-of-a-hat-kind.
Also she won't keep
My only defence is that I did it for love. And I'm kind of a sucker for small, sad things.

when you go out to the bar...
For the lack of imagination we named her Kissa, which is Finnish for cat. C. absolutely adores her.
all day long
So anybody got any words of wisdom on how to teach your kitten that it's not acceptable to kill birds of any kind? Or on how to overcome personal failure to stick to ones guns in the face of cute animals galore?
...but I have a kitten.
Having a cat is awesome fun and she's very cute, though I still think that chicken is the perfect pet. It, after all, makes eggs out of its backside. But there's always next spring for that.

PS. Heather got a kitty too! They're like blog-kitten-cousins!
PPS. We will return to our normal programming shortly I promise. I've been busy. With other things besides kittens.


  1. if it makes you feel any better.. (i'm a dog person) i've had dogs my whole life- but they too will commit murder with the birdies. it's animal instinct- all my doggies have killed some sort or feathered or furry creature and they present it to you as a gift.

    point being... both cats and dogs can be naughty- but they can be so cute- it's hard not to love them. :)

    congrats on the new pet. :)

  2. I remember when i was growing up, everybody here in sydney who had a cat put a bell around it neck so that the birds would always hear it coming, no matter how stealthy it was. It seemed to me (a little child) that this was common knowledge, but maybe its no longer a practice... if i think about it i haven't seen this done in ages. But then again i haven't played with a cat in a long time either...

    ps your kitten is incredibly cute.

  3. Kittens are unfailingly adorable...I have taken to pestering my husband for another baby (we have two already, and don't need another, it's my biological ticker ticking away fooling me into wanting another baby) - his latest comeback is "think of the planet! our household carbon footprint! the strain on resources! who needs another human!"'s hard to argue with that I tell ya.

  4. What an adorable post. I never had pets as a child but now I am in my 30s I have pet rats, fascinating little creatures but I do often wonder that I'm way too old for all this. However, why try and rationalise the often unrequited affection we have for animals? To be honest I think it's one of the things that make us human

  5. okay, have you happened to notice how "kissa" practically rhymes with "bliss" and how that is the pure unadulterated emotion on c's face in those lovely photos and yours too if i may say so my dear. oh how much joy a kitten brings! and it just keeps giving. now in the four years we have lived at our house we have seen two birds killed by our cats. it's terrible and frustrating and tragic but alas, it's true. i have also seen all four of my dearest baby fledgling bluebirds die with nary a cat in sight and of seemingly unknown causes. this is beside the point, but guess what else? my big gorgeous cat stormy, the sweetest boy who died in december, well once i heard him making a strange guttural mewing and i came outside to check it out. he was calling me. he had a bird in his mouth, but very loosely. and when he opened his mouth a bit to meow proudly at me, the birdy flew out. i watched it fly to a tree. and then to a pole, and then away looking perfectly strong and healthy. it was a trippy and surreal experience and i think my cat merely had that bird gently in his clutches without hurting it. i have no answers for discouraging cat/bird calamities, and i wish you luck and myself as well in that crazy endeavor because it kills my heart too.

    now, last but certainly not least, i must do a big squeeeaaalllll at the adorableness of your new tiny lady!!!!!! she is a bright light and i love the strange otherworldly marking upon her head like a moonbeam kiss. kissa is a perfect name for a cat and for your new friend. and happy husbands rule. especially when it is for love.

  6. okay, have you happened to notice how "kissa" actually does rhyme with "missa"... haha ;) I've always been a total cat person.

    What a sweet little ball of love, this Kissa, not to mention thwarter of political convictions haha, you crack me up Millakins :)

    The photos of C. with the kitty are too sweet and his description of the crazy mountain man in the cabin-shack is so perfectly hilarious.

    I really miss having a cat around the place. Once the chickens are full-grown and settled in, I'd like to get a kitten. I'm thinking if it grows up around the chickens, which will be much larger than it at first, it won't then try to hunt them when it gets older. As for the wild birds, we've done the little bell on the collar thing and it does seem to work pretty well.

    Have a wonderful kitty cuddlin' weekend!

  7. Squee! Such a tiny, soft cutie!
    Seems like everyone is getting a new kitty.... jealous, who me?
    Good luck with your new addition and all the challenges she will bring. The sweetness she will bring to your life will far outweigh the challenges I'm sure.

  8. we used to have cats, but to be frank, i don't like them - i'm rather a dog person... but the shots you took are so adorable!

  9. Milluri...yllättävää, mutta niin ymmärrän!

    As you can guess, we think alike on this subject. And I too consider myself a dog-person. But for some reason during the past year I have started to dream about quiet still meditative moments with a purring cat laying on my stomach...

    Little bell on a red silk ribbon, may I suggest?

    Aino tulee kohta kylään leivoslaatikoineen :) teen ehkä kesäkeittoa...Puss o kram itsellesi ja Kissalle

  10. Chickens are the closest you can get to an animal that poops gold.

    The best way to make sure your kitty doesn't kill birds is put a collar (the kind with a safety snap- if it gets snagged on something, it will come undone and free the cat) with a bell on it. Of course, the bell is a problem in itself because really, who wants a bell hanging around their neck?

    I too consider myself a dog person. My pitbull Enya is amazing. When she was a baby, we used to take naps on the couch together. She would sleep on my chest with her nose right under my chin. Nowadays, she's a little big for that, but I'll still let her climb up into bed with me sometimes. My all time favorite thing to do though, is go on hikes with her. She's great company, and I feel ever so safe walking with her. I know no one could hurt me on her watch.

    Also, I feel having an animal helps to bring us back to ourselves, and kind of get us to rekindle our connection with Nature. It's a wonderful thing, having an animal for a companion.

    Just remember: whether or not you had taken Kissa from that box, she'd still be in the world consuming resources. Now though, she'll bring you joy, and you'll give her a beautiful home. This way, she's giving back something, even if it's just good energy. A little give, a little take, right?

  11. your heart is in the right place when you bring home something that hardcore cute. kissa is beautiful! i love her in the last photo with her own plate of green beans... xo

  12. i know you live in a veritable outdoor kitty-wonderland, but what about keeping kitty indoors and thus away from not just birds but also rodents and all forms of life she may instinctively want to kill? my mother is an environmentalist and huuuuuge bird lover and this is what we did with our cat when i was growing up, and what i do with mine today. having a tiny, purry thing to lick your face and knead your legs is so amazing! i take so much solace in my cat and his presence. something as simple as watching him wash is super calming for me and brings so much happiness and delight, even! i hope you love having your sweet kitty as much as i adore mine. congratulations!

  13. Ihana Kissa! Unfortunately the predatory instincts come with the package, but who knows, perhaps a bell around the neck would work!

  14. i'm so happy to see you with a cat!!! she's perfect. definitely get her a bell - sure it's a little annoying but she'll adjust. 'tis true about the bird devastation (my fellow used to work for audubon society and can confirm this). the bell is the most effective way to go, and a collar with reflection stuff on it will help keep kissa safe at night and help alert the birds. plus collars can be very snazzy. good luck with your little fur ball!