OK. I’m going to admit something. And a lot of you are not going to like it.
I don’t like pets.
No. I REALLY don’t like pets.
I’m not a dog person, I’m not a cat person. I am a, “Oh God, get that thing away from me!” person. The kind of person who crosses to the other side of the street if they see a dog walker approaching. The kind of person who leans away awkwardly when someone asks them to pat their cat. The kind of person who gets disproportionately annoyed when people post pictures of their pets on Facebook. I don’t like the way pets smell. I don’t like their fur. I don’t like the fact that they hang around all the time, but don’t talk. What’s the fun in that?
I blame my parents. Growing up, we never had a pet (apart from a brief dalliance with crazy crabs foisted on us as a birthday present. We didn’t feed them. They died). My Dad, when he was a kid, conducted experiments on his pet cat, in an attempt to disprove they theory that they always land on their feet (he grew up to be a doctor, not a serial killer, by the way). My brother was allergic to dogs. As a family, we didn’t look fondly on pets. And with three siblings to play with, I never saw the need for a four-legged friend.
It wasn’t until I reached adulthood, that I realised that not liking pets was something of a social faux pas. You are meant to tell people their dogs are cute, even if they’re slobbery, barking, dirty, pooing, well, DOGS. You are meant to pat them. And not rush to wash your hands immediately afterwards. You are meant to find a story of a cat bringing home a dead bird amusing, rather than HORRIFYING (the only thing worse, for me, than the thought of an animal, is the thought of an animal with another dead animal in its mouth).
And when you meet a potential partner, you should do the same. Act interested when they tell you about their pet. Pat said pet when introduced. Go along with talks about the future, which involve a house and a dog. Try not to recoil in horror at the thought of a house with dog hair all over it. A future where you have to get home early, to feed the cat. A future that involves shovelling dog poo. For some men, the pet question is more important than the baby question. A future, with a pet, is non-negotiable.
So, I’ve been pondering this point a lot lately. Wondering if I should tone down my pet hate. Seem a bit more flexible about my future, be more polite about other people’s animals. Bury the fear and disgust, and just chill out.
Because this new me should be able to do it, right? Think about all the brave things I’ve done this year, the acceptances I’ve made, the maturity I’ve shown! Being cool around animals is just another self-improvement I can make!
Well yesterday, the universe decided to test me.
I was sitting inside, working on a job application, when A CAT JUMPED THROUGH THE WINDOW. INTO MY HOUSE.
And what did the new, chilled out, pet-accepting Claire do?
Screamed. Shouted, “Go AWAY! Go AWAY! I don’t LIKE YOU!” Decided I could probably touch the cat with the bottom of my shoe, without getting cat rabies. Tried to push it tentatively towards a door. Shouted some more. “Go AWAY! Get out of MY HOUSE! I really don’t LIKE YOU!”
After five traumatic minutes, the amused cat decided to take pity on the crazed blogger and wandered outside. I collapsed on a couch, heart pounding, vowing to never open a window, EVER AGAIN.
Yep, cool as a cucumber.