What was the name of your first pet?
When I was a kid my parents had fish, but apparently I overfed them and killed them. I want to say it was something I did out of ignorant kindness, but I also have a distinct memory of catching all the fish and putting them in a pot on the stove. I don’t remember them floating, so I’m assuming this was prior to making the tank into a fishy graveyard. It’s just one of those flash moments in my memory that I can’t explain.
When my brother was younger he really wanted a pet. He wanted a cat, but my mother and I were very allergic to cats at the time. We even went to a shelter to see if maybe we could make it happen. My brother was maybe 7 at the time. He fell for a kitty that had one bad eye and all these health problems and my mom knew she would be stuck dealing with the tough stuff like kitty meds and claw clipping. There was a big cryfest where we all felt horrible but ultimately let it go.
To appease my brother’s nurturing side, my mother got my brother a gerbil, which my brother named Buzz. I wasn’t really into it so much. It was very much my brother’s thing. I think he named it Buzz after The Toy Story character Buzz Lightyear. I was more of a Mr. Potatohead fan. We even had this little plastic ball that we would put Buzz in and he would explore the house. I don’t know what the lifetime of a gerbil is, but he didn’t live that long. It was so long ago but my concept of time may be a bit off. We maybe have a picture or two of him somewhere in our photo albums (This was the good old day when you had to develop photos in order to see them). I remember Buzz breaking his leg somehow and ultimately dying in the end. I don’t know if there was anything we could have done for it. I was pretty young, Buzz wasn’t my responsibility. I know my mother took the brunt of the responsibility in dealing with Buzz and his tank cleaning.
After that, My brother decided he wanted a rabbit. This rabbit was mostly white from what I recall, we used to let her hop around the house from time to time. We kept her in my brother’s room and oh man is keeping a rabbit smelly. I don’t know if it was the pee or the poop or that type of wood shaving type stuff. I’m not sure if they came up with better products in recent years to trap that smell, but it was rough. Lots and lots of cleaning was needed to keep that cage clean, much of the responsibility my mother took upon herself again. I don’t know how my brother slept in such a smelly room. I guess people do lots of crazy things for love. My brother, bless him, loves his animals. Anyways, like I said, we used to let this bunny jump around the house. One day, she died with very little notice. She was fine. The assumption we made was that she must have eaten something she shouldn’t have when we weren’t looking. As many of you know, bunnies can’t throw up. So if they eat something bad for them, they’re unfortunately done for. We remember her having a funny red mark around her mouth when she died. So maybe that’s what it was?
After that , my brother was upset, so we go him another rabbit. This rabbit was black and white. Like the other rabbit, I don’t remember what my brother named her or him. At the time, I wasn’t much of a pet person so I never took that much interest. I don’t even remember if it was a boy or girl bunny. This bunny, we were more careful to not leave something she could eat and then kill herself with. But we did let her play around in our backyard during the warmer seasons. She did nibble quite a bit on our radio sound system wires, which my father wasn’t fond of. But it was easily fixable and she seemed to enjoy bouncing about in the grass. She would always come back to her cage when she was done. We had some wild bunnies in the yard, in the beginning we think she met them and they scared her or maybe something else scared her because she would run back to her cage for dear life. But I think her and the wild bunnies made nice, because SHE RAN AWAY WITH THEM one day. Yeah at first we thought she was lost. We looked for her. We kept her cage outside. She never came back so we thought maybe she was eaten by another animal until we saw her one day frollicing about with the other wild bunnies. I never realized that domestic bunnies could become wild bunnies. I didn’t think she had the skills for it. But what do I know? Hopefully she lived a happy life with the other rabbits.
During that time, my brother was away staying at my grandmother’s for the summer. And my brother’s obsession for cats returned. Mainly because my grandmother’s area has a lot of stray cats. My grandmother’s domestic helper (because my grandmother is disabled) brought a stray kitten for my brother. She was adorable. A grey and white long hair, but again she was very much my brother’s, I still would become super congested around her. I didn’t really get my brother’s love for animals at the time. Not that I hated animals, but I didn’t necessarily have that nurturing quality at the time. Long story short, the kitten ran away. It was really sad, my brother was sad and that made me sad.
When the summer was over, my dad decided to get my brother some fish, to hopefully fill that void. But whoever sold my dad the fish should have told him that one of the fish needed to be kept in a separate tank because it will eat all the other fish and rip them to shreds. I’m led to believe, with my little knowledge of fish now, is that it was a Betta fish. Mystery solved I guess. The remaining warrior fish lasted for a while. I guess the normal year or so. Who knows how long it lived in the store before we bought it.
Then one day, while my mom was driving home from work, she found a turtle in the middle of the road. My mother is afraid to touch animals, so she used sticks she found on the street and a box in her trunk to try and bring it home. Man was that a surprise. We didn’t really have the things needed for a turtle, so we kept it outside in this squared off part of a yard. We left food and water for it. The season must have been spring or summer, because it was nice out. We wouldn’t have left the turtle out in bad weather and we checked on her or him throughout the night. We woke up the next day and the area looked broken into. So either a vicious animal ripped into the area or this turtle unleashed its mutant ninja skills and escaped.
Fast forward 6+ years and my brother is driving down the road– he sees a sign for kitten adoptions and he spontaneously drops in and gets a kitty. She was adorable, the sweetest. I wish we had taken a picture of her. She was a ginger tabby, which someone told me is rare to have a female ginger kitty. But the timing was really bad. Pets are a commitment. She wasn’t litter trained and I think she was ripped away from her mama a bit too soon. She definitely still needed mama’s milk. All three of us in the house were working and I was working three jobs at the time. My brother was working long hours and my mom was really allergic to her, so she wasn’t getting the proper attention. I tried to play with her and keep her company when I had the time, but she was always so scared and hiding. She wasn’t litter trained yet, so she was peeing everywhere. And I’m still allergic to cats, so I felt like a physical miserable mess. It was a bit too much for us at the time, but our hearts were in the right place. We had to do the responsible thing. My brother, heartbroken, had to return her to the woman he got the kitten from. Such a sad sad day. But hopefully, she was able to find a forever home that was better equipped to deal with such a precious furbaby.
Anyways, a few years later, my brother convinced my mother to get a cat and that this time things would be different. We’d get a healthy adult cat that’s already litter trained and we had more time for her. My mama did some research, and by some, I mean a lot of research. She decided we needed to have a female cat because she read that they were less aggressive than male cats. I don’t know how true that was, but my mama is an important part of our decision making process so we. of course, complied. My brother wanted a long hair cat or a chubby cat, but my mom got the final call and she decided a short haired cat would be best for her allergies (she was right.) Our cat has never bothered or gotten to my allergies at all. They went to a cat colony in the area they were living in at the time. A cat colony differs from a typical animal shelter because the cats aren’t in cages and they’re free to roam, unless they’re sick, just got fixed, are preggers or are new mommies. Then they get put in separate room to be taken care of appropriately. So my mom and brother go in and apparently it smells bad. That many cats, it has to be a bit overwhelming. My mother was afraid of cats, even though she thinks they’re cute some of them were very aggressive. My brother had a list of cats he’d seen on their site, but all the cats he liked were either sick or taken already.
But then our luck changes. Out pops a little 9lb Russian Blue adult cat about 2 years old at the time. She came sneakily skulking out of the closet, which was a surprise to everyone working there, because apparently, the entire time she has been there Helen (that’s our kitty’s legal first name) has hid in the closet. My family automatically fell in love with her. She’s gorgeous, sweet, silly, playful, quiet, loving– everything you could ever ask for in a kittycat. We took her home and poor Helen, who we renamed Qamar (which means ‘moon’ in Arabic), was scared silly. The story that the Cat Colony assumes happened was that she was a house cat that was allowed to go outside. But one day, around age 1, she came back pregnant and like many young mamas to be, her family wanted nothing to do with it. So they kicked her out. The colony found her on the streets with her babies in the cold winter. They took her in. Let her have time with her babies until they were ready to be on their own. Her babies got adopted quickly because they were just as gorgeous as she is. But there were many much more dominant cats and larger cats at the colony that bullied our little Qamar and that is why she stayed in the closet all day, everyday.
It’s fate. We wanted a sweet kitty and a sweet kitty came out to find us. Bless her a million times over. She’s the best. When my brother had his surgery, she sat next to him all night. When my mama is upset, she paces with her back and forth until she calms down. And me, she lets me cuddle her and love her. She’s addicted to turkey, like she’ll fight you for some turkey. She loves gravy and goes wild over catnip. You can often find her running out of the house to explore her outside surroundings, only to come back immediately when she realizes she doesn’t like it– I think she finds it overwhelming. She loves to play catch and tears apart any dangling strings she can find. She loves playing with flowers and cheap toys. She doesn’t go anywhere near expensive toys, she’s all about the Dollar Tree. She loves her kitty treats, but hates it when we tell her to get off the table. She didn’t start speaking to us until a year ago, and when we first got her she would have horrible nightmares. She has stolen all of my hair ties and I can’t be mad at her for it. She has a bit of a hard time connecting the dots– she still can’t figure out how food goes from a plate in my hand to the floor. She used to love sleeping on her cat bed, but now she enjoys sleeping on the couch or on a blanky in the closet. She also loves sitting on a sunny windowsill. She sometimes falls off the couch which sends me into a panic, but she shakes it off. She has the sweetest, softest purr, but the moment she sees a dog she growls and sounds like a mini-lawn mower. If she hears a dog bark, she will hide. There’s clearly some bad blood there. She’s the love of my life and my soul mate. 😛
Peace and Pistachios,