Like many readers I have a pet. I acquired my cat very early one cold winter morning in the middle of a rainstorm. He was mewling piteously outside my window. Reluctantly I dragged myself out of my warm bed and let him in. After he had dried himself on the leg of my pyjama pants I realised he was actually my neighbour’s cat. This concerned me as my neighbour’s cat was a fat, lazy, spoilt cat that never left my neighbours property. Feeling that something was amiss I fed him and gave him some milk. Then I woke my poor neighbour with a phone call to tell him that his cat had somehow found its way onto my property and was acting very strangely. My neighbour, still in his dressing gown, made due haste over to my place, took one look at the cat and informed me “that is not my cat!”. He then trudged back home through the rain and back to bed. The cat, who was christened ‘Mr Meows’ drank another bowl of milk, looked around and decided it was quite to his liking. So for the last eight years ‘Mr Meows’ has set out every morning from his own home and spends the day at my place , returning to his own home at night.
Adopting your neighbours pet could be seen as being similar to owning your own pet, and in many ways it is, but there are some very important differences. For example when you own your own pet the cost of their veterinary bills, worming tablets, operations, check -ups and other assorted medical mishaps have to come out of your pocket. However when the neighbours pet turns up with part of his fur shaved off in a distinctively punk rock style; or comes limping up on a bandaged paw looking for sympathy and an extra helping of last night’s sausages, you can breathe a sigh of relief that you weren’t the one who had to pay the vets bill.
Vacations are also a breeze when the cold nose in your warm heart isn’t actually yours. If you own a pet and want to take a holiday you have three options. You can book your animal into a kennel and pay more for their stay in a cage than you pay for your stay in a five star resort. Or you can leave them with a friend or family member, apologising in advance for anything or anyone it breaks, bites, or bulldozers during its stay. In these circumstances you also have the added discomfort of knowing that your friend or family member is frantically praying that your pet won’t run away or die while in their care. If neither of these options is suitable then you are left with one alternative. Hire a wheelchair, sit pet up in wheelchair, dress pet in shawl, oversize sunnies and floppy hat and pretend pet is great aunt Bertha and hope hotel staff don’t look too closely. By comparison if you have adopted your neighbours pet all you have to do when you want to go on holiday is to explain to pet that you are going away for a few days and that pet should take this opportunity to reconnect in a meaningful way with it real owners.
So next time you see your neighbour’s dog digging up your garden or their cat scratching its paws on your newly planted trees, take a moment before you chase it away and remember that adopting your neighbours pet gives you all the love of your own pet with none of the hassles.