I’m a big believer that life is incomplete without pets. I’m known for rescuing cats, but I also grew up with a dog. If I ever hit it big on the lottery (which clearly has not happened), I will go all Jon Stewart on everybody and open a rescue sanctuary. We will have goats, chickens, horses, barn cats, and big dogs to keep away the awful breeders who want to sneak on the property and drop off litters of unwanted kittens without any accountability.

But until that happens, here are things I’ve learned from having a busy household with a lot of animals while trying to maintain a middle-class suburban lifestyle.

“Does this smell like pee?”

The answer is always yes. It smells like pee. Don’t ignore that.

“Did someone just puke.”

Yes, yes they did. You’ll find it by stepping in it.

“I haven’t seen the cat/dog for awhile.”

Probably locked outside or in a room somewhere.

“Why are you meowing/barking so much?”

Something is up. Get off your ass and have a look.

“Would you quit climbing on my face?!”

Probably hungry. Time to wake up and feed your pet.

“Yuck, is that diarrhea?”

It is unmistakably diarrhea, which is a common side effect of many medications. Not on any medications? Someone ate something.

“Why did you pee outta the box?”

Urinary tract infection is the most common culprit. Call the vet. Don’t wait. It’s painful.

“Did you eat my eggs?”

Damn right someone ate your eggs. That’s what you get for leaving them on the counter.

“Your breath smells like trench warfare.”

Time for a kitty/doggy dental.

So many people get a pet and think that it’s just a dumb animal, which is sorta true. Pets are not people. But as a person who has a choice about whether or not to have a pet, you bear the additional responsibility of making good choices on behalf of your dumb animal. And, yes, they are trying to tell you something. Don’t want to form a relationship and meet its needs? Don’t get a pet.

(And please don’t have kids. But that’s another post.)

Nobody is a perfect pet owner. I just locked my cat Roxy in a dark laundry room for two hours because she’s black, the lights were off, and I can’t see anything. But if you see something, or your pet is trying to say something, it’s not because your dog or cat is annoying.

It’s because something is up.

Go have a look.


  1. And our pets are really like babies. They have limited means of communicating with us, and require a lot of attention. But when you have that delightful, quiet snuggle with your animal (in this case, my cat curled up right at my neck, purring in my ear and rubbing her face against mine) it is all worth it.

    For the record, “does this smell like pee” applies to both children and animals, and I have probably asked it more in relation to my daughter than my cat.

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