So you’re ready to take that next step in your life: adopt a pet that will unconditionally love you and be your best friend. I’m pretty sure this is the dream of most people stepping out on their own and living in a new place, which is exactly why I jumped the gun and adopted [more like rescued] my domesticated stray in college. Ps, his name is Mansfield, but goes by and responds to “Manny.”
Now I know what some of you are thinking already – it’s either “I’m more of a dog person and absolutely refuse to get a cat” or “Oh man, a studio apartment with a cat is what this girl’s life has come to? Yikes.” But hear me out because what I have to say might actually trigger you to reconsider your next pet, and if not maybe you’ll appreciate cat people more than find them amusing and a source of hilarity to compensate your boredom – I’m guilty of that too…
First off, would you believe me if I said I’m more of a dog person? Shocker considering this post is about my feline but yes it’s true. In fact, I still plan to get a dog someday but for the time being, my life doesn’t accommodate a pet with too many needs I can’t satisfy. Think about it: I live in a studio apartment, have two full-time jobs, work/travel most weekends and red alert: have no outdoor space. AKA a dog would make me feel so guilty for lacking all of the above.
Until my circumstances change, I won’t be able to call a canine my own. But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost to having a pet that you get actual companionship from. A cat won’t reciprocate affection back the way a dog does but definitely shows enough to make me feel like I can satisfy its needs while still living my busy life. Here’s what I’ve come to appreciate and understand living with my cat Manny in my NYC studio apartment for the past year:
CATS ARE SURPRISINGLY SOCIAL
I’m lucky that Manny has a great “cattitude” in the fact that he doesn’t give me the cold shoulder and behave stingy around me or my friends. It’s actually quite the opposite. Not only am I greeted at the door each time I come home but my friends are also greeted with the same eagerness when they come over. A lot of this has to do with me associating him with lots of different people often and starting at a young age. I’m sure the college parties and traveling to & from school helped condition him to handle a lot at once, so greeting a friend or two isn’t intimidating.
I think the biggest fear of owning a cat comes with the stereotypical expectation that they’ll be anti-social and rude rather than entertaining and enjoyable to be around. Honestly it does come down to selecting a cat with the right behavior you’re looking for and how you raise them going forward. Manny is a rescue and I found him at 7 weeks, WAY TOO YOUNG to be separated from his mother and extremely impressionable. But if you see how a cat you’re considering interacts with others and behaves each time you see it, you can determine whether or not its the right one for you & your life.
“LESS IS MORE” TO A CAT, SERIOUSLY
Manny owns a grand total of three actual cat toys, eats a simple diet of Meow Mix wet & dry food, routinely sees a vet once a year, has his own bathroom and uses what’s already present to his advantage – aka my furniture or any free basket/box to take his cat naps in. He enjoys being pet and brushed daily but other than that, he demands very little from me – unless he’s starving, but he makes sure to let me know by constant meowing.
But that’s it. My costs are very low owning a cat because he requires very little from me to be happy. There’s no walk to take him on early in the morning, noon and night and when I’m not paying attention to him, he sleeps instead of wrecking havoc to get a response from me. He has his own life and appreciates his space, which allows me to focus on writing blog posts like these without being distracted or having to accommodate time to meet his needs. For the time being, our lives work great together which makes us fab roomies.
CATS ACCOMMODATE “YOUR NEEDS”
What I mean by this is the simple fact that I can continue to live my life while still making Manny happy, with little to no worry or guilt on the side. Okay maybe I feel some guilt but it’s only because I adore my pet so much. At the same time, I also know he could care less about my efforts to please him and isn’t expecting very much from me with the exception of food and a clean bathroom to use.
Because I work two jobs, I can’t be around that often during the day. Lucky for me, Manny doesn’t need me to be present in order to use the litter box and unlike a dog, doesn’t view his food as a “goal-oriented” task of finishing it all at once. He paces himself and can make it last, which brings me to the second perk of owning a cat: I can travel on weekends and leave him at home.
Yes it’s less than ideal and I feel bad ditching him but when you have to leave town, it’s nice to know you don’t have to pay for kitty daycare. I fill his bowl with extra dry food and place two full water dishes nearby to make up for the two days I’ll be gone. Keeping him in the space he’s comfortable is far more preferred than stressing him out by keeping him with a friend in a place he’s unfamiliar with. Plus when I get back from where I was, we’re both super excited to see each other and spend lots of time together making up for the two days of separation.
FINALLY, CATS ARE FAITHFUL FRIENDS
When you have a bad day or need someone to talk to or be with at night, it’s nice to have a pet that loves and appreciates you for all your flaws. He may not be physically jumping for joy to see me and won’t sit by my side 24/7 but when I need him close, Manny is right there. He doesn’t care that I have a studio apartment with limited space, that I’m constantly stressed trying to make it all work out and often times need to vent. When I need him, it’s like he knows and he makes himself present which is something I truly appreciate.
There are a lot of humans that aren’t even that understanding but there are some people & pets that have a different way of showing you that they care and understand you. It’s not textbook but it works for me and at the end of the day, knowing Manny is by my side makes all the stresses and pains of post-grad life worth enduring.