In a small sense, adopting a cat reminded me of getting married.
I had wanted to do it for a long time, but I kept delaying because I wanted to be sure my husband and I were ready. We needed to finish unpacking and get the house in order. Who would feed it if we left town? What were we looking for in a cat, anyway – kitten, adult, friendly, calm? We scanned Craigslist looking for “free kitten” ads and perused Humane Society websites. We considered aspects of pet ownership such as time commitment and expense. Finally, we went for broke and bought a litter box.
Standing in a room full of cats, opening cages and reading personality descriptions, I experienced a minor case of nerves. No matter how long we spent holding and coaxing, no matter how many questions we asked the Humane Society volunteer, there was no way to predict exactly what kind of pet each cat would make. We liked three: a darling kitten who had once been feral, a shy long-hair with enormous paws, and an overweight tabby hiding in a cupboard. I looked at my husband in consternation. “Which one should we choose?”
My husband, bless him, has learned from past experience not to put pressure on me when it comes to decisions. “Which one do you want?” he asked. So I did what I normally do when I’m trying to figure out what I want: I called my mother.
“I don’t think it matters, honey. You’ll love whichever cat you take home. Just go with your gut,” she told me.
The problem is that I have an underdeveloped gut, metaphorically speaking. Choices for me are less a matter of intuition than a matter of careful preparation: gathering facts, weighing pros and cons, asking for advice, etc. If I have learned anything from the engagement experience, however, it’s that at some point, you simply have to go for it.
At some point, you simply have to go for it.
You see, there is a certain amount of risk involved in any choice, even one as seemingly insignificant as pet adoption. When we extracted the 16-pound tabby from her cupboard and brought her home, we couldn’t have predicted what a talker she would be, or how much she would enjoy opening all our bathroom drawers. (We have now sealed them shut with duct tape.) And while I knew my boyfriend to be gentle and selfless, I never could have predicted what an unfailingly kind and generous husband he would make.
There is a certain amount of risk involved in any choice, even one as seemingly insignificant as pet adoption.
What I often forget is that risk doesn’t merely imply a hazardous outcome. When you risk danger, or failure, or pain, you also risk joy, and intimacy, and fun. Perhaps that’s why the dictionary definitions of “risk” and “adventure” are so similar. If I spent less time deliberating and more time acting, I might make more mistakes, but I would also skip a lot of internal drama and, possibly, make some good decisions along the way.
I think we made the right choice in Zero, our “catloaf,” as my husband calls her. Maybe I would have felt that way about another cat, too – I don’t know. I do know that we spent most of the evening yesterday giggling over her loudmouth antics and attempting (unsuccessfully) to brush the endless dandruff out of her fur, feeling utterly pleased with ourselves for bringing home a kitty. I also know, or at least hope, that I am beginning to learn something about decision-making.
There is reward in action.
The Reluctant Bride