As I was walking through the bedroom this morning, I was awoken from my morning stupor by the cold, wet sensation of cat, hair-ball puke slipping under my barefoot. I was surprised at how calm I remained as I scraped the offensive goop from between my toes and dutifully returned to clean the carpet.
It then dawned on me that I have finally stopped hating our pets.
"Hating your pets? How could you!?", you may ask, but it was not always that way and I now believe that I have come full circle.
When Corby and I were a child-free couple, we had many cats. One summer, after a litter of kittens were born, we housed seven cats. Over the years we gave a few away and some ran away, but we always had 2 or 3 at least. The cats were our children, until I became pregnant for the first time.
While pregnant, I was surprised at how quickly our beloved cats went from fluffy balls of love to the most disgusting things in the world. The cat hair, cat puke, cat litter and the occasional "your laundry basket looks just like my litter box" accident all offended me to the point of wanting to get rid of all of the cats.
After Elora was born, things seemed to settle down a bit. I think that cats can sense stress and really don't like the sound of a baby crying, so generally they all gave me a wide berth. The only remaining annoyance was that all those cozy, soft baby blankets looked just as cozy and soft to all of the cats. Countless times I would find a stack of newly washed baby items (we had no washer and dryer, so we used a laundromat) covered in cat hair, and that usually sent me over the edge.
About four years later, living in a new house with a fenced yard, we decided to get an adorable puppy for our two children. Things were good for a while until I became pregnant with our third child. No one tells you that while pregnant you have a increased sensitivity to odor. I didn't even want to be in the same room with our dog now, who had grown to a hefty 70 pounds. It didn't help that our 1200 square foot house was beginning to seem a bit cramped.
After Jacob was born, the amount of dog hair shed around the house quickly became the bane of my existence. Dog hair gravitates and adheres to snuggly, terrycloth baby sleepers especially as the baby squirms and crawls across the floor. I must admit that I am not the best house-keeper in the world, but the amount of hair our dog could produce was no match for our vacuum, in fact, we went through two vacuums during this time.
I eventually trained our very smart, obedient dog, who had in many ways become the neglected step-child of the family, to not go into certain rooms of the house. Things were better because the hair wasn't everywhere, but when I became pregnant with our fourth child, I seriously thought that we should consider making the dog an "outside pet".
Finally, a year and a half ago, we finally upgraded our house to one double the size. We now have about 2200 sq.ft. and a large fenced back yard. The dog stays in the kitchen and entry hall even though there are no gates to keep him out of the other rooms (I think that he has incurred my wrath over the years enough to know that it is better to stay under the radar). We have only one cat now, because when we moved our other cat decided to run away and return to our old house. We retrieved her once, but she ran away again and we couldn't find her thereafter.
The pet situation has settled down now, but I guess it was never really a "pet situation" at all. I mean, the rest of the family always maintained a loving, fair relationship with all of the animals in the house. I suppose it was my crazy prenatal or postpartum hormones that made me so animal intolerant.
If you take a minute to think about it, there is probably a primal explanation.
I imagine that in primitive societies, animals posed a serious threat to a new baby. Those domesticated wild dogs and feral cats that kept company with the cavemen would surely not think twice about picking off a tiny human if times were tough and they were hungry. Perhaps my abhorrence of animal odor and my desire to protect the children from a mass of pet hair is only a latent remnant of an innate instinct for survival.
What do you think?
Blub-blub is a 13-year-old, striped tabby who sometimes forgets to keep her tongue inside her mouth and Nog-dog is a rotund, five-year-old, pound-puppy.