Around the time my parents took me in for foster care, my Mum was followed home from work by a cat called Brandy, who had lost her tail.
I was the last child the family ever took in for foster care (Ha! They never got rid of me!) but Brandy wasn’t the last stray pet. There were gerbils and rabbits (someone emigrated), then a Siamese cat (someone realised they’d inadvertently bought Satan in feline form), and a beautiful rescue dog called Susie, who you could only stroke from behind because she quaked uncontrollably if anyone raised a hand in her eye line.
Within a year of leaving home, I acquired my first stray – a kitten called Basil who was being given away because his owner was pregnant. Basil was followed by a flea-ridden bundle of nerves called Parsley, who the lady from the Cats’ Protection League just “happened” to have in her car when we met.
When I was pregnant, we bought a chocolate Lab, who we called Happy. She suited her name perfectly because everything that happened to that dog was literally the greatest, most exciting thing EVER to have happened. Seriously.
Happy’s life was one long round of ‘Ohmygosh, someone looked at me, that is fantastic, wait, that person spoke to me! This is brilliant. Oh my God, there’s food?? Seriously?? This is, like, the best thing EVER, ooh, what’s that? OHMYGOD SOMEONE IS AT THE DOOR!!!'
Those of you who have owned Labradors may be familiar with this trait.
When I got divorced, the ex took the cats and the dog turned out to be impossible to manage on my own, along with a toddler and a falling-down house. So Happy now lives on a farm (no, really, she does), and undoubtedly every day is still the best day of her life EVER.
I’ve had 18 months pet free and while there’s a lot less cleaning to be done and I can now leave the house knowing the dining table will probably still have four legs when I get home, the house does seem to lack something. And I think pets are good for kids – Flea is relatively hardy for a small girl largely because she spent the first two years of her life being sent flying by a Labrador puppy.
Flea is desperate for another dog. For the past three months, she’s pointed out every single dog she sees on the street, and her favourite book is a dog training manual, which she reads in bed every night. She says for Christmas Father Christmas can bring her a basket and a food bowl, and then I wouldn’t have to spend money on them myself.
I worry though that we’re still not in a place to care for a dog. I often work away from home all day – if I’m in London I might leave home at 6am and not get home until 8pm and that’s just not acceptable when you have a dog. So the point of this rambling post is… we’re going to get a pair of kittens.
Having made this huge life decision, I realise I have no idea where to acquire aforementioned kittens, or what I need to buy to care for them. Pet insurance, probably. Anything else?