I grew up on a farm in a time when most farms had a variety of animals. Farmers often kept some cattle, a few pigs, maybe some chickens and milk cows. Some farmers had turkeys. And everything, of course, lived outdoors in the barn or the hog house or the chicken house or a shed.
That was true of pets, too. Dogs and cats lived outside. They had the run of the place and for shelter hung out in the barn, the crib alley, or another outbuilding. My family always had our pets, but they lived outside, unless one of them got hurt and needed some extra TLC. When hogs farrowed in the winter, there would be an occasional metal basket full of baby pigs brought inside in a metal basket to get warmed up on the big furnace floor register in the living room. We loved the many litters of adorable kittens and frisky puppies we found in the haymow or the manger in the barn.
So that was my approach to pets, too. Animals are meant to be outside, where they can be well cared for and loved and part of the family. It's just that I believed the house is where people live, not animals.
So why is a full-grown female cat sitting on my lap as I write this? Well, it's because she lives with me now. In my house. I hardly believe it myself. And yet I think this new roommate is going to be just fine.
I've named her Maxine, this gray and white beauty. She's a senior cat, ten years old, adopted from a shelter through a special program called Senior Cats for Senior Citizens. Although I'm not so sure I like that label for myself, I guess our energy levels should be similar. She's already declawed on all four paws, so my furniture is safe.
My son helped me pick her out from the shelter a week ago. Sitting in her cage, Maxine had a bit of a snarly look on her face, rather like she was daring someone to look her way. So I took her home. And we've been getting acquainted ever since. After spending several days under a bed and under a table, Max is now getting out and about in the house, discovering what her new home is about. And she has her moments as a pretty good lap cat already.
This Maxine is something like the Hallmark cartoon character of the same name. You know her, the one who is always cranky and says things like, "Breakfast in bed? Isn't that just cleaning up the crumbs from last night's midnight snack?"
So I think Max and I are off to a good start now that I've joined the rest of society by bringing my pet inside to live with me.