Sacrificing for Cats

We give up some things when we get cats, but what we get in return is way, way more.

We give up some things when we get cats, but what we get in return is way, way more.

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!

Find out how to set up a cat-friendly home >>

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.

See more stories from a cat’s point of view >>

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.

Meet Sparkle the Designer 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.

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