I love flowers. Especially lilies. Whenever I see a tiger lily or a stargazer lily, I have to stop and admire it. But I won’t even touch one, and they never see the inside of my house, ever. Why? Because they are deadly toxic to cats. Even a bit of lily pollen, dropped on a cat’s fur and licked off, can fatally damage a cat’s kidneys.
Get more facts about lilies and other cat toxins >>
When we bring cats – or any pet – into our family, we have to compromise and make sacrifices. Every Easter, I’m surrounded by gorgeous lilies, but I can’t have any. At Christmas, the mistletoe is fake because the real thing harms cats who eat it. My fiancé will bring home a cat-safe spring bouquet, and roses on Valentine’s Day and sometimes my birthday, but we have to be careful. All three of our cats, and Sparkle especially, are plant- and flower-chewers. I keep roses on my desk at my own risk – Binga has been known to knock over a vase or two!
Flower and plant choices are just scratching the surface of the small sacrifices we cat companions have to make. My cats are indoor-only, which means we will never casually leave a door open, and all windows will always have secure screens. Only pet-safe cleaning solvents are used inside the house.
Then there are the bigger sacrifices. I choose the fabric of my furniture carefully to discourage scratching (microfiber – yes, nubby fabric – no … I learned that the hard way). Boodie claws rugs, so I have to shop around to find one that’s nice looking but fairly cheap, since I know it’s eventually going to be wrecked. Let’s not even talk about the carpet that needs replacing as a result of the stains left by the cats and dog. Sparkle is OK when I’m away for a few days, but no more than that. My wished-for 2-to-3 week trips to France or Tibet will have to wait – for years (she is 12 and healthy). And I’ll never forget the beautiful apartment I couldn’t rent many, many years ago because they didn’t allow pets and I had a cat.
Looking over all this, I can see these choices really add up. I’m not sure what I would think if I were a non-pet owner. Do they take open doors and windows for granted? Would it annoy them to stop bringing home their favorite flowers, or real mistletoe at Christmas? Do they think I am crazy to hold off on a dream trip because of a cat? A life is made richer – or poorer – by the choices a person makes. Yes, I’ve given up a lot of things, big and small, because I have cats. And honestly, I do have my what-if moments sometimes. But I’ve gotten more back from having cats in my life than I’ve given up. Way, way more.