SUBSCRIBE NOW
for home delivery
COLUMNISTS

The benefits of having a pet are many

Susan Manzke
Car-E helps co-host author Susan Manzke's blogs on her YouTube channel.

There are many reasons to get out of bed in the morning. The majority of adults have to go to work and children go to school, even if many are going virtually these days. If you are on a farm, your work surrounds you, and tending to it means going outside.

Some of us don’t have work or school calling us out of bed unless you happen to have pets. My indoor cats and dog make a fuss if I take my time in the morning. They know exactly when it’s time for breakfast and they won’t have me dawdling.

Car-E, my over-sized kitten, is especially insistent that I awake at my normal time, or even earlier. He’s usually hungry, but if food isn’t swift to follow, Car-E will make do with some play—his play can be more of a roughhouse variety which means I have to watch out for the safety of my fingers and toes.

Cruella, Susan's older cat, is not a fan of the household's youngest cat, Car-E.

If Car-E’s playful antics don’t get me moving fast enough, he turns his attention to Cruella. His leaps toward the older cat are met by hisses or if she’s really ticked off, a high-pitched yowl, and then she retreats to safer territory.

Sunny, my dog, is quiet with his requests. Before breakfast, Sunny needs an outside break, but when he returns he’s anxious for his food, too.

My breakfast follows my pets’, and that includes the outside cats that come to the porch for their munchies.

After getting me out of bed, I find there are many other benefits of having pets. Sitting in the winter, with a warm cat purring on my lap is cozy. Of course, I can only hold one cat at a time. When both Car-E and Cruella try to leap on my lap simultaneously there’s a problem, mostly for me as they hiss at each other for the coveted spot. I don’t take sides. I shoo them both away. I can’t play favorites.

Othello keeps a close eye on at beta fish.

If you’ve followed this column for a while, you might notice I haven’t mentioned Othello. My eighteen-year-old cat went over the rainbow bridge (died) in December, just before Christmas.

I had been nursing Othello for the last two years. His brother Pete had to be put down in 2017 and by the looks of it, Othello would follow. But I just couldn’t do it. At that point, my husband Bob’s health had turned for the worse. Many evenings, Othello would search out his favorite seat, Bob’s lap, and purr for Bob’s attention, which Bob gladly gave him.

All those years ago, when Othello and Pete came to live with us they were as lively as Car-E is today. They were large kittens when Bob had his heart surgery.

One day, Bob was lying in bed when he thought something was wrong. “I can’t move my legs,” he said to me, and then he started laughing. Both cats had stretched out for naps across his lower legs. Their combined weight was what made it difficult for Bob to move.

Sunny takes a break for a quick photo during a walk down the road.

Those two brothers loved Bob more than they loved me. Even though I fed them and took care of all their needs, they would walk over the top of me to sit and purr by Bob. It took a while to transfer Othello’s affection to me after Bob passed.

Having to put down a beloved pet isn’t easy. I probably should have taken Othello to the vet earlier, but as I said, I just couldn’t lose him, too. It wasn’t until he stopped eating that I knew it was time.

The benefits of having a pet outweigh the sad points. I can’t imagine not having furry friends living with me. They don’t judge me even if my hair is messy or my clothes are mismatched. A bit of food and a scratch and they are happy.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net/blog.