When Two Became Three: On Becoming a Post-Grad Pet Owner
I’d wanted a cat of my own ever since I went off to university and no longer had the family cats to greet me at the door every day after school. I went through something of “cat withdrawal” during my time at university. At night, I would long for a furry kitten to cuddle up at my feet.
If you grew up with pets and then transitioned to living on your own without pets, you’ll understand the slight twinge of sadness you feel when you come home after a long day and there’s no puppy to lick your face or kitten to brush its soft fur against your legs.
That being said, I was firm that I wouldn’t get a cat of my own until I could commit to staying in one place or country for a while. So when my boyfriend moved in and expressed my shared desire of owning a cat, I was adamant that we wait.
Then, the perfect opportunity presented itself: someone we knew was looking for a cat sitter for two months while she was in Asia. My boyfriend and I jumped on the opportunity. A little orange kitten to cuddle and play with? All the fun and none of the responsibility? Where do we sign? We went to meet Leo at Ruth’s apartment and Niels fell in love at first sight. Leo was climbing on his legs, licking his fingers and purring like an abnormally loud transport truck within five minutes of us being there.
Truth be told, I wasn’t so sold on Leo when I first met him. My boyfriend was definitely his “favorite” and it did not help that he tried to claw me every time I attempted to pick him up. Leo once knocked the lid off of a pot of risotto I was cooking for dinner, picked out the shrimp (the most expensive part) and proceeded to pick the crustaceans apart and litter them all over the floor. He’s done similar dissections to pizza, tacos, ice cream and pasta dishes. He also has a nasty habit of what I like to call “spiteful throw up” meaning he leaves hairballs in super inconvenient, hard to clean places such as my yoga mat and a brand new duvet cover.
Despite the rocky start of our relationship, at the end of the two months, Leo and I learned to love each other. Every day when I came home, his sweet little face would peer out of the bedroom, anxiously anticipating an afternoon cuddle session. When his owner returned from Asia, we were devastated to say goodbye to him. But as luck would have it, his owner's new building didn’t allow pets! Which meant if we wanted to keep Leo, he was ours.
We love Leo, but it hasn’t been easy. In a house full of twenty-something post grads all going through some form of a quarter-life crisis, the extra responsibility has been challenging at times. We’ve had arguments over whose turn it is to buy Leo’s food, whose responsibility it is to do his litter and most importantly, who is going to take him at the end of our lease. We worked it all out by making a “Leo checklist” and posting it to the fridge. We rotate who buys his food and litter and feeding him and cleaning his litter box is tasked to whoever. This arrangement has worked out great in our house. As for who is going to take him when our lease ends, my boyfriend and I decided that we really couldn’t live without our little lion and would bring him with us wherever we went, no matter the cost or difficulty.
And now, we’re planning on bringing him overseas to the Netherlands in the fall (see my post on tips for moving abroad). Crazy? Probably. But the idea of leaving behind the newest member of our little family is unfathomable. Plus, it’s really not that complicated to bring a cat from Canada to Europe. All Leo needs is a letter from his vet saying that his shots are up to date and a microchip. There’s no quarantine process or anything like that which is a huge relief. Although the cost of his veterinarian bills and incidental moving costs will reach several hundred dollars, we’ve set a side a little “Leo fund” to ensure our boy can come with us!
If there’s one thing this experience has taught me, it’s that owning a pet in your early twenties is possible. It’s a huge commitment but as long as you’re willing to accept that this animal is part of your family and you’ll do whatever it takes to keep them healthy, happy and with you, a pet can be a welcome addition to your post-grad life!
[Photo by Juliette Kibodeaux.]