A guide to pets, written from the helpful perspective of somebody who, er, hasn’t had that many
Human beings are – and I’m happy to be corrected if you know any different – the only animals that keep other animals for amusement and companionship. Whether they’re fluffy, scaly, feathery or slimy, pet ownership is something that almost everybody either does now or has done in the past.
But if you’re new to the game, how do you choose which kind of animal would be right for you? Well, count yourselves lucky, for here is a handy guide to pets, written from the helpful perspective of somebody who, er, hasn’t had that many and doesn’t know much about them.
In general, you’re either a cat person or a dog person. Some people are both, a few are neither. Me, I’m firmly in the cat camp. Fluffy little scamps, they can be incredibly affectionate when the mood takes them. Nuzzly, cute little fluffy-wuffies.
They’re little bastards too, obviously. Aloof, judgmental creatures – you never really own a cat, you just give it somewhere to eat and sleep before it wanders off into the neighbourhood to get up to things you’ll never find out about. They treat you with utter disdain until they want something. Every now and then they might curl up on your lap and purr in a heartwarming way, but they’re probably just building up to giving you a good old poking with their claws when you realise they’ve given you two dead legs and you try to get up (or maybe that was just my grandma’s cat).
It’s no wonder they own the internet. They cannot be argued with.
I’m not so sure about dogs. It’d be enormously controversial to be so bold as to say I don’t like dogs, because dog owners can be quite militant about that kind of thing.
They’ll take it as a personal slight, like you’ve just insulted one of their children. Mind you, some dog owners seem to think their dogs are their children. Is there anything more gross than seeing somebody kiss their dog on the lips, or let it lick their face?
Don’t get me wrong, there are dogs I’ve got on with in the past. My uncle’s Labrador is quite sweet (is it a Labrador? Christ, I’ve no idea). Another uncle has a little yappy dog that’s friendly enough. They’re not all bad. Once you get to know them, they can be rather likeable.
But still. If I knew more about dogs I’d be able to be more specific, but there are some kinds of dog that really let everyone know they live with a person, even when they’re nowhere nearby. Some people just smell like dog, don’t they?
Also, dogs are bloody needy. A cat will look after itself. A dog always wants your approval. “Look, look at this random object I’ve brought you!” Oh, sod off. Slobbery airheads.
I used to have a hamster when I was about five or six. The only memories I have of it are the time we had to move the cage because it was too close to the curtains and it chewed a big hole, and the time it escaped its cage, got under the floorboards and ate through all the wiring. So my analysis would be: they eat stuff. Stuff they shouldn’t.
I don’t know a whole lot about domestic rodents, to be honest. If you put a hamster, a gerbil and a guinea pig in front of me I reckon I could have a game stab at guessing which was which, but I wouldn’t be totally confident.
There are two main reasons to buy such a creature: firstly, they look hilarious running around in their wheels. Secondly, they’re a good way to teach a young child about the concept of death and grief. Because they don’t live very long.
Ah yes, I can get on board with fish. Great pets. But they take a bit of looking after.
When we were kids, my dad acquired a great big fish tank along with a heater and various other bits of aquatic bric-a-brac, and filled it with tropical fish. I loved it – neon tetras shoal, guppies are born folded in half, Siamese fighting fish chew each other’s tails, golden gouramis think they own the place, kuhli loaches keep the plants clean… fascinating creatures. Don’t buy any angel fish though, they’re evil little fuckers. They just eat all the other fish.
I got a bit carried away, and insisted on having a goldfish bowl in my bedroom. I wasn’t as good at looking after fish as my dad was. I learnt some valuable lessons: if you overfill the bowl, you’ll come home from school to find it devoid of fish – they’ll be on the floor, dead. If you leave the bowl on the windowsill in summer, they’ll boil to death. If you don’t clean the bowl regularly, your room will smell like bad drains. The key to proper fish maintenance is this: just don’t be a dick. Clean ‘em out occasionally, yeah? And don’t overfeed them either, they’ll eat themselves to death like that fat dude in Se7en.
Birds are cool. My first pet – I think – was a canary called Custard. This really helps me out when people say “hey, what’s your porn name? It’s the name of your first pet, then the first street you lived on”. Which gives me Custard Devil. Well, Devil’s Lane was the first street I actually remember living on; otherwise I’d be Custard Rainbow, having lived on Rainbow Avenue as a baby. Either way, it’s a movie worth watching.
I digress. My sister had a grey budgie called Levi as a teenager, and he was a brilliant little chap. They’re friendly, very pretty, and flap about the place like lunatics.
They do tend to shit everywhere though. Watch out for that.
Aw, I’d love a rabbit one day. We like to take our daughter to the pet shop – or “the cheap zoo”, as we call it – and the rabbits are always the highlight, she loves them. Their motorised noses are hilarious. Everything they do looks cute, little flolloping guys cuddling up and chewing on carrots.
A friend of mine had a house rabbit when we were younger, and it was the softest thing in the world. You could stroke it for hours. Although it did have an unfortunate habit of shitting out maggots, and then it died. Bit nasty. But hey, it probably wasn’t doing it on purpose.
Fucking hell, don’t get a tiger. They’re too big.
Another small rodent in the hamster confusion, but I know what a degu is because they have them in the cheap zoo. The principle reason for buying one of these would be that they’re hilariously dirty little bastards. Last time we were in there, one of them was fellating itself.
This’d be the ideal pet for someone who smokes a lot of weed.
My parents have chickens, and so does my sister. If you’ve got a big enough garden, they’re a pretty good idea – they’ll eat all your kitchen waste, and give you limitless eggs in return!
…although I don’t particularly like eggs. And I live in London, so am gardenless. You can’t really keep chickens in a flat, I don’t think, so I’m out.
This is probably illegal. Remember Marcel, the monkey from Friends? That taught us all two valuable lessons: 1) that monkeys can be taught to be slaves/butlers, to a degree, and 2) they’ll ultimately get taken away by the authorities and you might get arrested.
Funny how Marcel never flung his shit about the place, isn’t it? I bet that’s a hazard of simian curation.
…and that’s all the pets (I don’t want to get into reptiles, they look like old men trapped in little scaly bodies. Creepy). Key take-out from all this, I reckon, is that you should get some fish, but you might also like to get a rabbit, and get a cat to look after it.
Or whatever, I dunno.