When You Are The Only One In The Family Who Doesn't Want A Pet, You End Up Getting A Pet

When You Are The Only One In The Family Who Doesn’t Want A Pet, You End Up Getting A Pet

When You Are The Only One In The Family Who Doesn't Want A Pet

Oleh_Slobodeniuk / iStock

I was not a fan of the cat. I didn’t want that damn cat in the first place.

In fact, Mel and I had been married for 11 years, and I’d resisted getting a cat since day one. It isn’t only cats. I don’t like pets in general. I don’t like the way they always want attention. I don’t like the smell. I don’t like picking up their poop in the yard, or litter box, or wherever.

I’m not into poop-handling. I don’t like the fact that they lick their crotches and then lick my face. All in all, I find pets really irritating. I do enough picking up and poop handling with my children, why on earth would I want some new brand of poop to handle?

I’m just not a pet person.

But the kids wanted a pet really bad. It became the refrain of my life:

“Dad, can we get a pet?”

“No.”

“Dad, can we get a pet?”

“No.”

“Dad, can we get a pet?”

“No.”

And on into infinity.

Eventually I became the ogre. The evil non-pet lover who is keeping the whole family from being a real family with a pet, because obviously you can’t live the American dream without some sort of animal in your life. Or at least that’s the way they made it seem.

I was discussing this with a good friend of mine, and fellow non-pet dad, who told me that for a long time he’d take his daughter to the animal shelter to visit her cat. They would hold a cat, play with it for a bit, name it, and then put it back. “This is where our cat lives,” he’d say. And while I am sure there is some reason that this is a horrible thing to do, it sounded like a brilliant plan. I even suggested it to my wife, who looked me square in the face and said, “That would make you a complete jerk.”

Ultimately, this is the reality of being the one person in the family who doesn’t want a pet. You become the odd one out. The jerk. The asshole. The fun police. The one stick in the mud that is preventing everyone else from having a good life, so you try to find ways to keep everyone happy without actually getting a pet.

But the fact is, when everyone is against you, it’s just a matter of time. I didn’t have a medical reason not to get a pet. I wasn’t allergic or anything. I just didn’t like them, and obviously that wasn’t enough to combat three dewy-eyed children and a determined, pet-loving, mother.

His name was Vincent, a stoic name with artistic significance that the animal shelter gave him. Not that this changed a thing. He was still a snooty attention whore, like most cats. He was black except for a few white patches on his paws and nose.

We agreed that he’d be an outdoor cat, although he basically took over the garage and the roof. Sometimes he and his neighborhood ruffian friends climb on the roof in the night and stomp their little paws, taunting me, claiming their territory. I remember lying awake the first time he did this. I looked at the ceiling in the dark and wondered how I was going live with this damn cat.

But then something happened. It wasn’t the way the kids lit up when they saw the cat. And it wasn’t how adorable my toddler was chasing it around the yard. And it wasn’t how sweet my wife looked snuggling with Vincent on the porch just before sunset. It was when I ended up home alone for a couple weeks during the summer.

Mel took the kids to visit her mother while the kids were out of school. I couldn’t take time off because that was the busiest time for my job, so I was home alone with detailed instructions on how to care for Vincent. A few days in I got lonely and found myself in the garage with Vincent curled up in my lap. He didn’t seem to mind that I’d ignored him for so long, or all the times I cursed his name for clawing at the back window to be let in. He just cuddled up next to me, and I felt something similar to what I felt when one of my children snuggled next to me on the sofa as we watched a movie. It was a warm feeling. A comforting feeling that wasn’t the exact same as what I felt with my kids, but pretty close.

It was in that moment that I said something I never anticipated, “Vincent, you’re okay.”

I don’t want you to think that I’m now a cat person. I have no intentions of getting more pets. But what I will say is that when I come home from work, I let Vincent in the garage. I crouch down, and pet him, and he purrs. And every once in a while, one of my children will come out and see me do this, and every time, they look me in the eyes and smile, and the slight hook in their smile seems to say, “Busted.”

I smile back and wink. And then Vincent struts off to his food dish.