Friday, April 13, 2012

Rats!

Note: This is not to be taken seriously.  With that understanding, please proceed.

"I'm a dog person."

This is a socially acceptable thing to say.  Lots of people prefer dogs.  It's not weird for people to want a dog, or to keep more than one dog, or to dress their dogs up in weird costumes, or carry them around in purses.  Okay--maybe the last two are a little weird, but not like...freakish.  When I worked at Hobby Lobby, we had a lady come in with her dog so that it could help her pick out the beads she was going to use to make it a collar.  THAT was a little freakish.  But still; it was a dog.  Hardly anyone batted an eyelash.

"I'm a cat person."

This is slightly less socially acceptable.  Dog People are liable to sneer at Cat People, or tell horror stories about awful cats they've known, or make implications that owning cats--especially more than one--is somehow indicative of the owner's mental health.  Cat People are devoted to their felines, however, and it's not unusual for people to keep cats in multiples; some people keep them in droves.  Cats don't really make appearances in public, so you don't really see a Cat Person out walking their kitty on a harness, or carrying them around at a place of business.

Cat People and Dog People often don't agree on the Best Pet Ever, but it's generally accepted that Cat People and Dog People can coexist peacefully as long as their animals are kept apart.

However.

I dare you to tell a Cat Person or a Dog Person that you have rats.  Dare. You.  Because this is the reaction you're probably going to get:

*

And not in a good way.

Well listen here, Cat and Dog and Other Pet people.  Do I look at you like you have the plague when you tell me you got a puppy?  Do I tell you I don't want to come over to your house because your cat always shoves it's anus in my face and it makes me uncomfortable?  Do I tell you about the time my neighbor's dog bit my foot and pulled me off my bike, or how my friend's cat took a chunk out of my arm while I was just standing by it, not doing anything?

Well, okay, I guess I did just tell you that.

I'm a Rat Person.  I have five rats.  They recognize my footfalls.  They answer to my voice and come when I call them.  They have never bitten me.  They have never scratched me in aggression.  I clean their litter pans and take them for walks.  I let them run around on my sofa, the bed, or the living room floor (with door gates in place and wires safely out of reach, of course.)  They're not allowed in the kitchen, and they certainly have never jumped up on the counter with their feet that have also walked in poop (Cats, I am looking at you.)  They don't drool, when they lick me it is soft and dry, and when they mark their territory it is a single drop of fluid that is easily cleaned up.

"I don't like their tails," people tell me.  "Their  beady little eyes freak me out."

That's fine.  I don't actually care.  I don't like cat fur or dog breath.  I don't feel the need to tell you that when you bust out a photo of your chihuahua.  And to revisit: cats like to show people their butts.  How is THAT not weirder than a perfectly functional tail or eyeball that minds its own business?

"They carry diseases."

Ever heard of ringworm?  It's a fungal infection.  I had a friend in high school who let his cat sleep on his pillow over the weekend.  That Monday he had a really nice ringworm infection on his forehead.  Clearly cats are super clean animals that never carry anything remotely close to a germ.  Turtles carry salmonella.  Any animal that goes outside can bring back ticks, which carry Lyme disease.  And let's talk about fleas.  I've had fleas before; I got them from other people--their dogs, their cats, or even their children**.  I've NEVER gotten a parasite, flea, sniffle, sneeze, or so much as a dirty look from a rat.

I've gotten a dirty look from a guinea pig before, but not a rat.

Hamsters too.  Those little monsters are EVIL.

But never a rat.

So what I'm saying is, I like rats.  You maybe don't.  That's fine.  But I don't tell you how much I don't like your cat, or your dog, or your iguana, or your mom.  I'm not saying you have to love my rats.  I'm just saying you have to respect my choice to own them, and respect the fact that I love them.  Just like I do NOT understand you wanting to own a cat or a dog...but if that's what you want, I'm sure that you love them very much and that you and your pet of choice are very happy together.  I respect that...so please respect me.

And, if you don't,  I will train my army of rodents to swarm your bed and pluck out your eyeballs while you sleep.

Have a great day!

*No, I don't watch Glee.  It was just a great reaction.
**Yes.  Someone else's kid gave me fleas once.  It was HORRIFYING.  


Please note that this is meant to be read in a teasingly humorous tone of voice.  I'm not actually upset, I TOTALLY respect that rats/mice/rodents/snakes/whatever freak some people out.  My big thing is bugs--I turn into a useless hot mess in the presence of anything with more than four legs, so I promise, I understand how it feels.  Nobody I know has actually made me feel bad about owning rats, and all my friends who own cats or dogs have lovely animals that I lavish with affection whenever I visit.  I promise, this is all meant in good fun.

8 comments:

  1. I know how you feel. I had an albino guinea pig, and everyone was creeped out by her red eyes. Do your rats live in your room? And if so, do they keep you up with their night-time scampering?

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    1. I adore guinea pigs...red eyes or not. My family's had 3--one red eyed ginger, the others dark eyed Abyssinians, and all three of them were just dears.

      With the rats, I move them around periodically because I don't want them to get bored with their surroundings. They're shockingly smart, so the more mental stimulation you can give them, the better. My challenge is keeping them entertained even though I work full time. I usually run a fan for white noise when I sleep, so even when they're in my room I don't really notice their noises at night. :)

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  2. YES. Rats are some of the smartest, sweetest pets anyone could ever have. I've had three (all sadly deceased after 2-3 years...so I have sworn off them for a while because their little lives are too short and I get WAY too attached and heartbroken) and loved them SO much. They are the only pets I have ever had who would cuddle (with the exception of my dad's 90lb "lapdog" golden retriever), could sense my mood, and showed affection to each other. We used to witness one of them reaching down to help pull the other one up onto desks (or into the trashcan or on other things they weren't supposed to be on) so they could carry on their criminal activities together...so cute. I love all kinds of animals but I will always be a "rat person".

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    1. They are frighteningly clever, aren't they? I just lost my beloved fat boy Gus, and in his last couple of weeks when he started having issues, the brothers he lived with would help him groom. It was the sweetest thing, and I'm sure they knew he wasn't feeling so good. The night he died, he waited for me to get home before he slipped away. Heartbreaking, but also so sweet.

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  3. I'm a cat person...and a rat person...but right now, I'm actually really a chicken person (my hen Ellie is the sweetest, most affectionate creature I've been honored to know.) My only problem with rats (and the sole reason I don't have one now) is their short lives, and how, all too often, those lives end in horrible ways like brain tumors.

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    1. I definitely considered the lifespan/health issues when I decided to get rats. Fortunately for me, there is a wonderful breeder in Grand Rapids, so I have health information and pedigrees on all my ratties. That's not to say they don't have health afflictions, but I kind of had an idea of what to expect, and I figured--these babies were bred for someone to love them, so it might as well be me!

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  4. I like all animals....ok not snakes. Those buggers scare the pooh pooh out of me. I would pet someone elses pet rat for sure. But, I know I wouldn't be a good owner of one. I like pets who can just "be" in the room with you and can follow you around the house. I need a pet that you don't have to be hyper vigilant about what they may be chewing on, pooping on or crashing into. That is why I wouldn't be a good bird owner either. We like best, the pets who fit best into our life style and temperment.

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  5. I'm definitely more of a dog person, too. Not huge into cats at all. Great post. Very entertaining!

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