February 07, 2009
Mr. A called me from SFO a few hours ago for one last xo before he took off to Athens for 10 days. He has a conference through Friday, and then he'll take a few days to either visit his grandma, who lives in Europe, or explore the islands.
With 5 minutes to go before his final boarding call, I thought it was the perfect time to bring up a pressing issue.
"You know, I think it really would be a good idea if we got a cat."
He is strongly anti-pet. I am strongly pro-pet. This conversation pretty much summarizes our attitudes, and the many other conversations we've had on this topic. A shorter version would be: "What a cute dog! That's just the kind I want." "Me too. For dinner." Aaak!
Originally I wanted a dog, but I realize that is more intrusive to a non-pet person, since they make noise and want attention, whereas a cat is more self-sufficient. Also, I've discovered mice in the garage!!!!! Our manager will take care of it, but to prevent future problems, I figured that getting a happy little outdoor tabby would work wonders.
Mr. A worries that he'll be stuck with the feeding, cleaning, scooping, paying. When I go off for some exotic work assignment in my future glamorous yet-to-be-determined career or travel to back to grad school before said career, he thinks he'll be on kitty or doggy duty. No pun intended. He suggested that I rent a pet, or do a time-share with a friend or neighbor. I maintained that renting isn't an option in San Diego, while a time-share would be too big a hassle (who covers immunizations? Do I have to drive 3 miles just get my daily 10 minutes? Or is it a full weekend, every other weekend? What if the co-owner has another pet with fleas, and then the fleas end up at my house? What if the co-owner wants our co-pet to do kitty yoga or be vegan or learn to doggy ski, when I think paw painting would be more enriching? Sounds too much like a custody agreement for my liking...)
To counter his worries that I couldn't take care of it alone, I explained that single people have cats too. The cat lady is a cliche for a reason. There are pet hotels and pet sitters and friends and maybe even neighbors. If I promised it wouldn't affect him at all, other than knowing an animal lives somewhere in the vicinity of our house, couldn't we try to find a compromise?
Somehow, we managed to come to an agreement just before the plane left:
The pet would always stay outside. I'd be responsible for everything pet related. I'd get a cat first, as a one year trial. If it annoys him, if he ends up stuck caring for it, it it pees on his favorite vintage grey coat leaving an indelible stench (I speak from experience, my friends), then after a year max, the cat goes bye-bye. If it proves to be no bother, then I'll keep it.
We each ironed out the details and vetoed various things. And it's not set in stone yet. I realize it's a big leap for someone who really doesn't like animals, and I'm grateful that he's open-minded enough to let me prove how unobtrusive it can be. Now, I just need to make sure it's the right thing for me to do. Financially, logistically, and time-wise. And Mr. A needs to make sure he's okay with this accord. But at least I have the green light to start thinking and planning.
Gained: The possibility of a cat. And an inspiring example of fast paced, high stakes bipartisan conflict resolution with my main squeeze. Bon voyage, cheri!
PS: Do you think it's possible for one person in a couple to have 100% responsibility for a pet, or is that just naive? Anyone else been through such a negotiation before?