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It may be difficult to comprehend if you've never had a pet (you poor soul), but there is an undeniably special and undeniably weird bond that develops between a pet and its owner. My wife and I have developed our fair share of idiosyncrasies when it comes to spending time with our two cats, so we have firsthand experience of this unique connection.
As you get older, you start to realize that a lot of the things you thought were abnormal or unusual about yourself are actually pretty common, so while these stories are specific to us, I'm sure these are all strange things every pet owner has secretly done. At least, I really, really hope it's not just us.
"Working My Way Back to Alvy"
Singing to and/or about your pet is one of those strange things every pet owner has secretly done, and I am no exception. Sometimes my wife and I make up our own songs to sing to the cats, but, as a terrible composer, I find it easier to use tried and true melodies from whatever song is stuck in my head at any given moment. Just last night, Alvy was running away from me while I was trying to give him cuddles (long story), so I lamented with a rendition of "Working My Way Back To You" by The Four Seasons. Mostly it consisted of me singing the phrase "working my way back to Alvy" over and over again because I couldn't remember the rest of the lyrics.
"The usual again?"
As the (sort of) proud owner of two cats, it is not always easy for me to discern between strange things every pet owner has secretly done and strange things that basically just I do. This might be one of the latter.
My wife and I split the job of taking care of our cats, Annie and Alvy, pretty evenly. One of the ways we accomplish this is that I serve their breakfast and my wife serves their dinner. So the first thing I do when I wake up every morning is greet Annie and Alvy at the bar in our kitchen to give them their breakfast. The cats, by the way, are always more than ready to get their morning meal: usually, they're the ones who wake me an hour before I need to get up, but I'm used to it now.
Anyway, I greet them at the bar to get their order: "the usual today?" I've never actually gotten a response from them, not that it would matter, because the usual (Trader Joe's wet food) is the only thing I keep in stock.
"Scream for it."
A lot of pet owners probably think they're the only ones to do some of the weird stuff they do with their pets, but the reality is that a lot of these are strange things every pet owner has secretly done at one point or another. My wife Chelsea, on the other hand, is not like most pet owners.
Before I go on, I think it's important for you to know that one of my cats, Alvy, has the weirdest "meow" ever. It's not really even a meow at all. He sounds kind of like a broken rubber ducky. I mean, in a good way—it's adorable as hell—but still.
Now, I'm not under the impression that anyone but me thinks my "the usual again?" breakfast joke is funny, but at least it's harmless. The same cannot be said for my wife when she serves the cats their dinner. Annie (the apparent favorite) gets her bowl of Taste of the Wild dry food with no additional fuss. Alvy, however, is tortured on a nightly basis.
While any number of events can cause Alvy's meowbox to go off, being denied his food is a reliable way to get one or two good "screams" out of him. So Chelsea does just that every night. Alvy is forced to watch helplessly as his older sister crunches her meal, with Chelsea odiously hoisting his own food bowl just out of reach.
"You're not getting fed until I get my screams!" she cries, as Alvy looks on wearily, confused, and starving. Some nights, it's all he can do to muster a quiet chirp before my wife relents, dropping his food bowl carelessly in front of him. I would stand up to my wife and tell her that she should show mercy and just let Alvy have his dinner, but I'm worried she'll start making me scream for my food too.
"Hello, this is Annie speaking."
Animals can't talk. That's the long and short of it. So most pet owners have to develop their own interpretation of their pet's voice. Most sensible people use their imagination to add words to the sounds and gestures their pets make. Other people (read: my wife) find it necessary to actually give their pets a voice. Chelsea will ask one of our cats a question, and then answer the question as that cat using a squeaky falsetto voice. Personally, I think this is on the extreme side of strange things every pet owner has secretly done. Thankfully, I don't think it is so widespread, as my side of the family doesn't really do this, but my in-laws do, my wife does, and now it's begun to rub off on me as well (much to my chagrin).
"Do you mind?"
My wife and I live with our two cats in a relatively small studio apartment. For any readers out there who don't know, a studio apartment is one step below a one bedroom apartment. In other words, it is a zero bedroom apartment. In other other words, there's a small bathroom, and then a slightly less small room for every other activity you do in a home, and that's it. What I'm getting at here is there's no privacy to speak of, least of all from my cats, who have no concept of personal space.
I apologize in advance if this is a little TMI, but we're going to power through it nonetheless. Basically, my cats like to be involved when I use the bathroom. Why do cats do that? I don't know. Do they think they're helping me? Their litter box is right there next to the human toilet, but that's not what they're doing. They just try to jump up onto my back or my lap, and if I try to close the door, they just claw and scratch at it and meow until I let them in. It sounds cute until you realize these clawed animals are trying to find a comfy position on my bare legs, so I have to try and balance them while my focus is supposed to be elsewhere.
I should say I don't know if this happens to my wife as much as it does to me. I hope it does. Listing this among strange things every pet owner has secretly done doesn't seem fair, because I'm not the one doing it, but there you go. This is one of those moments where non-pet-havers can claim a rare victory.
"Need a bath?"
Here's another story to let you know about how my wife and I differ when it comes to being pet owners and our experiences with strange things every pet owner has secretly done. My run-ins with the cats in the bathroom involve me being accosted: an innocent victim under attack by feline pirates. It's just a weird thing your cat does with little explanation.
My wife, on the other hand, straight up lures the cats into the bathroom with her. The cats, for their part, have an unhealthy curiosity about water. Instead of protecting them from themselves like a normal parent, Chelsea exploits this curiosity to trick the cats into falling into the bathtub. And when she can't convince the cats to get themselves wet, she does it for them, splashing water on them or picking them up with her soapy hands, causing Annie and Alvy to sprint away in fear. Despicable.
"We have been BLESSED!"
Most animals can be pretty temperamental. Especially our cat Annie. One minute she'll want pets, the next she'll want to be left alone. Both of my cats like to explore the vast expanse that is our studio apartment, frequently venturing into hidden corners and crevices. Every once in a while, however, one of them will come out to say hello and jump on our laps or accept our humble offerings of pets and scritches.
Chelsea and I roll out the red carpet any time one of our cats emerges, as though they would somehow feel disappointed if we didn't praise them enough: "Princess Annie has come to visit us! We have been blessed!"
This is probably one of the most pathetic and strange things every pet owner has done, but we can't help it. We just love Annie and Alvy so much, so we have to take advantage of any and every time they deign to grace us with their presence.
"AGGRESSIVE HEAD PETS!"
I grew up with cats that didn't necessarily like aggressive head pets (they preferred time, patience, and cuddles), but both Annie and Alvy go crazy for them. I don't know if this is one of those strange things every pet owner has secretly done or if it's just me, but now I have to try this on every animal I pet. It seems like a love it or hate it kind of petting, but the animals that love it really do love it. And for some reason, Chelsea and I love giving aggressive head pets to our kitties too. We haven't found many other animals that appreciate our patent-pending petting procedure, but that won't stop us from trying.
"You WILL give me your belly."
Part of being a pet owner is getting to know your animal's personality. Most dogs and cats have particular petting preferences, and it's your job to figure those out. Some animals like gentle rubs, some like rough scritches, some want you to pet them with your feet for some reason... the list goes on. Experimenting with the pets you give your pets is just one of those strange things every pet owner has secretly done.
In the case of my cats, Annie loves being picked up and climbing on backs but hates getting pets on her belly. Alvy is pretty much the opposite, appreciating a good tummy rub but not comfortable being held. If you're normal like I am, you respect these boundaries and pet your animals in a way they're comfortable with. If you're a psychopath like my wife, you see these boundaries as a challenge. "They just need to learn to enjoy it!" In Chelsea's defense, Annie has gotten more tolerant of belly rubs and Alvy is almost okay being picked up. But still, those poor cats.
"No, that's okay, I'll sit on the floor."
It may not make sense to you if you don't have a pet of your own, but in most pet-having households, the pets themselves have priority when it comes to getting dibs on a good seat. This is particularly the case with massive dogs, like my family's fifty pound pit bull, Gottie, who takes up as much space as a human. My family, by the way, also has a second dog and two cats of their own. Between all these animals, I've experienced this phenomenon many times, so I know it's not just me. In fact, I'd wager this is one of the most widespread strange things every pet owner has secretly done.
In case you haven't figured it out from all the cat stories, I am not a dog owner myself. While cats are generally less imposing than their canine counterparts, I will admit to sitting on the floor on more than one occasion because I didn't want to move Alvy from his spot on the couch. Even in my apartment, where a single sofa is pretty much the only place to sit, I can't bring myself to move him. He just looks so cute!
"We can't leave our kids out of the portrait!"
Of all the strange things every pet owner has secretly done, I think treating their pets as children is the most egregiously widespread. And when I say "treating their pets as children," I mean these pets have their own Christmas stockings, home cooked meals, birthday parties... There are a lot of these people in my extended family. In our case, yes, Chelsea and I are "mom and dad" to our cats, but we haven't gotten weird with it. I mean, they share a Christmas stocking, thank you very much. And we didn't even get a cake for their birthday party. And it's not like we posed for the family portrait for very long. It's a totally different situation. I swear.