The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

In which I do a damn lousy job of selling the joys of pet ownership

Yesterday, I sent the following email to all of my local friends:

A recent round of allergy tests has pinpointed our cat, Willow, as a contributing factor in Evan's asthma issues and now we need to find her a good home.

Willow is a 9 year old spayed female cat whose front paws are declawed. Those of you who have been in our house know that she's patient and gentle with kids, even very young ones. She's reasonably independent and self sufficient, but does enjoy regular human attention. She's a great "entry level" pet in that she doesn't really require all that much attention, but is happy to receive more when it's offered.

We're looking for a new family to love Willow as much as we do and provide her with a good home. If you or anyone you know has been thinking about getting a pet, please let me know (feel free to forward this email to friends who might be interested). We'd be happy to provide pictures or set up an introductory visit while you think it over.

Getting rid of our first baby is hard, but obviously our human baby's health has to come first. We hope that our friends can help us to make the right match for Willow.

Thanks -

We ran the respiratory allergy panel an a whim. It wasn't even my pediatrician's idea, though she readily agreed that it was a good one. It had been my mom who'd made the suggestion. "What if he's allergic to something in your house and it's making the asthma worse?" she had asked me. I'd dismissed her concern breezily. "He's lived here for 2 1/2 years already," I told her. "If he were allergic to something, wouldn't you think he'd have had far more than half a dozen asthma attacks in his life?" But the question stuck in my mind. If a simple vial of blood could tell us things that might keep Evan healthier in the long run, it seemed pretty darn silly not to just draw that blood and know for sure. And so we did. And now we know.

Paul and I adopted Willow 9 years ago, right after we moved in together. Two days after we brought her home, she came down with some terrible illness, no doubt contracted at the shelter where we'd found her, and she spent the next several days and nights on death's door. I remember sitting up all night long, nursing our brand new fluffball back to health. I remember standing in the vet's office, waiting to hear just how astronomical the bill was going to be and wondering just how much money I was willing to invest in an animal I'd known for less than a week. I remember watching Paul urge the vet to spare no expense to save our pet and knowing that he might be a little crazy, but he was going to be a damned good father some day. By the time Willow was healthy again, we were significantly poorer, I was certain that Paul was the man I wanted to marry, and we were both completely bonded with our new cat. If you'd told me then that 9 years later, I'd be giving her away, I'm sure I would have been heartbroken. But now? Not so much.

It's sad, really. But in the past few years, Willow has been pushed aside more times than I can count in favor of Julia and Evan. I'm busy, and Willow simply falls at the end of the food chain where my attention is concerned. She's ignored more than she's played with these days, and while I obviously continue to care for her, I do so out of a sense of obligation more than love. She's a nice cat and I certainly don't mind having her around. But I suspect that I won't actually miss her all that much, either. I would never have considered offering our cat up for adoption were it not for the results of Evan's allergy test. She's a member of our household, for God's sake. We love her. So why, instead of sadness, do I just feel such an overwhelming sense of relief at the news that she has to go?

Once we find Willow a new home, Evan will presumably breathe easier, and that's huge. But there also will be one less creature in this household clamoring for my attention and affection and assistance, and truth be told, that's pretty damn huge, too. I'm pretty sure that this says something pretty awful about me, that I'm giddy instead of mournful at the prospect of dumping my beloved pet. Maybe I'm in denial and this will all be hard at the moment it becomes reality. And maybe, just maybe, motherhood has made me a little more heartless than I might have anticipated.

So, uh, anyone want a cat?


At 9:22 PM, Blogger Kristy said...

My feelings toward my dog are the very definition of ambivalence. So hard to think so, when just a few years prior he was the light of my life, in so many ways. I can remember my mother complaining about my childhood pet, and finding it unimaginable to feel that way. Now? I feel that way...

Motherhood changes everything...once again.

At 1:40 AM, Blogger Awesome Mom said...

I would totally take her if we lived near by and our landlord had not nixed the whole pet thing when we moved in. She sounds like a wonderful cat and I do so love cats even though I am mildly allergic to them.

At 9:25 AM, Blogger Tenille said...

You have no idea how very, very much I can relate. I wish I knew the feline way to say, "I'm all touched out - get the 'f' away from me!!!" One of our cats is even named Willow, if you can believe it. Of course, he's a 30+ pound behemoth, and not so very Willow-y per se.

That said, have you looked into nursing homes? A couple of our local homes have a resident cat or two, spoiled to death by the people that live there...

At 11:19 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

My cat is 16 years old and he and I were "an item" years before I met my husband. I love the cat, I really do.'s very, very different now. Once upon a time he was #1 in my life. Now he'd probably rank...somewhere in the good days. Poor guy. I am certain that after he leaves us we will not be getting a new pet for quite some time.

I hope you find a wonderful home for Willow - I love the nursing home idea!

At 2:01 PM, Anonymous chelle said...

awww how sad that you have to give your beloved pet away to a new home. I know if it came down to it I would pick my kid too....but it would be hard I have had my cat forever!!!!

At 10:41 AM, Blogger Steph said...

The feelings that I have for our two dogs now are totally different than for the two that we had prior to kids. They will always hold a special place in my heart, as our first "kids". I do love our current two, just not in the same way.

So sorry that you have to part with Willow. I'm sure that she will be missed, just all of the pet responsibilities won't. Speaking as one who is very allergic to cats, I'm also sure that Evan will breathe easier once Willow is in her new home. Good luck in finding a good match for her!

At 6:03 PM, Blogger Liesl said...

Oh, I feel so awful for all of you, Rebecca. I can't imagine giving up a pet even if all the evidence points to that being the best decision. I'm such a sucker for furry faces!

Our ferrets, too, although they still have a pretty darn pampered life, get nowhere near the attention they used to before Liam came along. I realize we're doing the best we can, but still the guilt strikes.


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