I got a new kitty last week, and if this one dies in less than five years I’ll know for sure I’m not meant to be a pet owner. The sadness I felt when my first cat suddenly died when he was four was surpassed by my humiliation from what Obi’s brief life suggested about my care-taking abilities.
I didn’t get my first pet until I was 28, and had long wondered if I was missing out on a metaphysical bond and inter-species unconditional love. I soon realized the many contingencies of unconditional love (food, litter, furniture to destroy, etc.), but apparently, there were several more obligations I didn’t fulfill and so my cat abruptly stopped loving me (suicide has never been ruled out).
I didn’t feel like a neglectful companion during my time with Obi, who was rescued from behind the former gay club WETbar. We shared a fondness, affection, and loyalty to each other, and both seemed to be thriving after a period of unstable employment and chaotic housing moves.
But when reflecting on what might’ve gone wrong, I know there were overlooked shots and check-ups, and it probably wasn’t the best idea to let him experiment for a month with being an indoor/outdoor cat when that tramp seduced him through our living room window (an STI has never been ruled out).
Our last interaction was when I came home from work and laid across my couch for a nap. Obi hopped on my chest and I lifted him off me and returned him to the floor, where he lay lifeless when I woke up about half an hour later.
So you might understand why I’m a bit nervous opening my heart to a new kitty. Much like when I’ve entered a romantic relationship, the excitement I feel is tempered by wondering how much I will hurt my partner, although thankfully none of my ex-boyfriends have died in my company.
While most folks characterize their relationships with their pets as parental, I view pets as companions and have realized that cats offer a type of companionship I desire in my romantic life.
They are independent and undemanding partners, who don’t require your schedule to submit to their appetite or every shit. They recognize their own worth and dignity and feel no need to become best friends with every stranger they meet.
Even with this compatibility with my own disposition, my single previous feline relationship failed more resoundingly than my three relationships with men. The quality of your commitment and love can’t help but feel indicted when you’re unable to make things work under the most ideal circumstances.
It may turn out that I’m simply not a pet person, which was among my first thoughts when Obi died since I felt more shock than sadness. I stoically accepted the end of my experiment with pet ownership, until I thought about how to dispose of his body and wondered if I was supposed to put it in the dumpster.
That dark thought instantly cast light on how rich my time with Obi had been and how much I would miss him, and how he and our relationship didn’t deserve to end up in the trash. My new kitty’s name is Fixie, a bicycle reference; but I’m hoping to prove to her and myself that some of my deficiencies as a care-taker and companion have been fixed.