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  • Writer's pictureAldona Birmantas

National Pet Day (Feline Friday series)

Okay, so, yes, technically, National Pet Day already passed on April 11th. But, let’s be real here- every day is “pet day”! I can at least speak for Betty and Marge, as they remind me constantly that the world revolves around them and that every day is their day.

I’ve been around animals since birth and have had countless pets. My mom is very much an animal enthusiast, as well, and there was never a shortage of small pals running around at all times. We’ve had cats, dogs, birds, hamsters, rabbits (so, so many rabbits), ducks, etc. When I was born, we had a dog named Elsie that would guard my crib and a long-haired calico cat named Sappy who, true to calico form, hated everyone but my mom with a seething passion. My first big exciting animal event was when Sappy had kittens. I was too young to do any of the dirty work, but you can see that I certainly enjoyed their presence.

When I was around two, we adopted another cat, Olive, who was also two. She came from death row at a kill shelter and was set to be put down the next day. She became one of the cats I grew up with, given that she lived to be a whopping 21 years old. She was the sweetest, most docile cat ever and enjoyed when I’d do goofy things like turn my Barbie house into a cat bed. For my 9th birthday, I was asked the usual question, “Natalie, what do you want for your birthday?” I bet you’re not shocked to hear that my reply was, “A KITTEN!”

So, off we went to the shelter and over to a cage of kittens. I stood there looking around until I saw one little tabby that was screaming her butt off while dangling from the top of the cage. Naturally, this was who came home with us. I named her Sandwich (we had a thing for many years about naming pets after food). She was a feisty little serial killer who was responsible for the demise of some other, much smaller pets. The bond between her and Olive was always strong, though, and when Olive got to be too old to groom herself, Sandwich did it for her. It wasn’t long after Olive passed that Sandwich came down with an incredibly fastspreading cancer. I had an appointment set for her to be put down on February 7, 2003, but she passed the night before. I wasn’t there. I hadn’t been around as much the last few years of her life due to not actually living in the same place and me living in a place where I was unable to keep her with me. I regret to this day not being around enough later in her life and especially not being with her when she finally left this realm. This definitely is a factor in why I spoil the hell out of Betty and Marge with affection now.

Eventually, I ended up in my first apartment in 2004 with my chinchilla, Pedro. Betty came along a year later. Since then, I’d also had hermit crabs, mice and a wide variety of finches before Marge arrived in 2016. Now, it’s just Betty and Marge. I cannot imagine ever living life without animals around, it’s all I’ve ever known. I will always have pets be a part of my life because a home without pets is just a house.

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