I love my cat, with all my heart, pity the squash, because he has to share my heart with the fat, contented house moggy, but he seems to have happily accepted this place, and even acknowledged that to stay in my heart and head he has to get on with the piggy-wiggy, and he tries, lord knows he tries, but she hates men. I love animals, but still, the concept of animals living with people confuses me.
People decide on owning an animal, but rarely take into consideration the work they require, they want their shiny new dog to instantly know tricks, to behave like a Hollywood collie. They buy a cat, expecting it to want to play properly, to sit in their lap in the evening, purring like a motor. They don’t.
My cat is a rescue, previously owned by a ‘man’, for want of a better, printable word, who thought it was funny to put cigarettes out on her, to slice her with a hunting knife, to starve, kick and throw.
She was bought for me as a bribe, a cruel, spiteful act, which saved both of us. Living in an abusive relationship, doing the ‘grown-up’ thing of living with my boyfriend of the time, apparently happy.
To the contrary, I was miserable, terrified and in hell. I was never allowed cats at my parents place, so he bought me her, from a mate of a mate, ‘as a gift.’ He later revealed that it was because he knew I wouldn’t leave an animal in danger to make myself safe, she was the best chain and rope anyone ever made. This gives you an idea of my truly skewed perspective on everything.
Because I had to rescue her, I stood up to my dad. Declaring that I really needed to come home, but that there was no way I was leaving the cat there. He saw the resolve and relented. He doesn’t like cats, but still loves her, deep down, I think!
But that’s my problem, people Vs animals? Give me animals, every time. Most people will go to a party, and tend to say hello to the pet, then enjoy the party, you’ll find me, in the kitchen, away from these people I don’t know, making friends with the cat/dog/parrot/goldfish, rather than speak to randoms.
As an example, I was recently at a friends house, and didn’t know any of her friends, as she and get partner are friends of the squash. So I sat alone, feeling very awkward, until one of her cats appeared. Cue one very happy Tilf, with one cat on get lap, and another near her feet, all night. Give me a pet that’ll sit and be played with, and I’m happy.
I don’t know where I stand with most people, saying one thing, while they think another. At least if a dog doesn’t like you, it’ll let you know, nice and quick. Leaving the room, growling, snarling, barking and eventually making a meal of your hand, all great ways to let you know they don’t like you. A cat will growl, hiss and spit, but will rather just wander off and ignore you, or sit in a high place, glaring at you until you realise how pathetic you are, and leave out of existential shame.
Whereas people will be civil, just because their boyfriend knows your boyfriend, or mum, or cleaner, or whatever, and being harsh creates tension. Tough, there are over 7 billion people on this planet, if you don’t like me; I’m not going to let this ratio of 1:7,000,000,000 upset me. I understand animals, to a degree, their wants are easy, food, attention, quiet, anything, easy. But people, no idea.
For a good example of human interaction with animals that would shame the most blasé of people just look at your newspaper, or watch TV for an hour. Guarantee you’ll see at least three adverts for raising money for abandoned pets, mistreated horses, donkeys, bears, tigers (don’t even get my started on tiger mistreatment, I won’t stop) and so on. I think the only pets that don’t have a well advertised rescue programme are insects, but give it time. Even Hitler had a better grasp on animal welfare than the majority of ‘caring owners’, and that’s not a great sentiment. Just as bad, is our treatment of the elderly.
We take mans best friend and subject it to the most cruel barbarity, but then turn the whole view on it’s head by our care, or lack of, of the elderly. We spend more money during the last 6 months of a relatives life than we do when they first get sick. If your dog comes home, sick and shaky, you take it to the vet, hoping they can help. Some spend all their money dragging out this poor creatures life, all in the name of love, and we do the same to our families.
When grandma is in hospital, sick and dying, we go and see them, when their dignity is gone, when they want to be left with some shred of humanity, we keep them around, dosing them on as many drugs as possible, to make our visits more comfortable.
But when a dog is suffering, and it’s yelping and crying, we lay them down and say our last goodbyes. I feel for people that have had to make that choice, I had to, my best friend (at the time) had arthritis and cancer, she was 10 when most her species only make it to 6 to 8. Sorry, you misunderstand; my best friend was the family dog. A Great Dane that had given me more black eyes that any amount of tree climbing or school scraps and I loved her to pieces. I grew from 10 to 19 with this big daft dog, this mess of overly long limbs that flailed and flopped in her semblance of a run. On her first day with us, she waited until we’d done the hour journey home, waited until the door nearest her was open, then chose to throw up. In my lap.
It was the start of a beautiful friendship that stayed much the same, but we got our revenge on each other. She was supposed to be a family pet, but I was just the right age, and a tom-boy, perfect for messing around in muddy fields with a dopy hyper-mutt. But then she started limping, unable to even go out to relieve herself, it was the most heart-breaking sight, watching my dad carry this proud, 15 stone dog out to the garden and holding her up. It was the first time my dad had cried in front of me, and I suddenly saw a human being, instead of a strict father. We took her to the vet, made the crushing decision and I held her as she died. But again, she got the last laugh, emptying her bladder onto the vets’ floor. There was a lot.
She’s buried in the garden, in her favourite spot, where the sun shone, and she was guaranteed to be right in the way of anyone trying to put the washing out.
I still miss her.
But for some reason, with our relatives, with those we profess to care about, we make them stay, we refuse to let them go, and then when they do go, we raise our children and grandchildren with memories of a person they never met, some even encourage them to talk to photos. In a way, this is very sweet, as they say “all the while they speak your name, you’re not truly dead.” But also scary.
I hope when I feel my time getting near someone will help me, I want to get dosed to the gills on PCP and go and start a fight in a skinhead bar, and I’ll take as many of those racist gits with me as possible.
Hell, here I come.
And hopefully, there’s an afterlife, because I would love to see my grandfathers and my dog again. We’re a young species, in the grand scheme of things, and we still have so much to learn, I just hope when we have learnt everything, when we’re on the same spiritual par as animals, they forgive us, and accept that we were young and stupid. By the gods, I hope so.