I have to warn guests before they visit for the first time that they’d better like animals. My roof currently conceals one dog, two cats and two degus. For those who aren’t keen on pets it can seem a little overwhelming – too many tails in one space. However, I am a pet person and, for me, a house isn’t a home until I’m moaning that the sofa’s covered in fur.
It’s the degus that usually cause furrowed brows as they’re not as commonplace as your average hamster. Degus look like big gerbils and people are usually surprised by how friendly they are. Sociable creatures, they need to be kept in pairs or trios. We keep ours in the living room, they need a large cage and have become quite an imposing centrepiece to the room. Their chatter sounds like birdsong, and as diurnal pets (rather than being nocturnal like many little rodents) it’s great to watch them run around their cage, groom each other and snuggle up to sleep together. Watching the degus is like watching a little microcosm of life, the soap opera of Casa del Rodent.
|My 'Doris' Degu|
Contrasting with the frenetic behaviour of the degus is the absolute laziness of my cats. Both adopted long-haired beasts, my cats are their own men – they aren’t those obedient purring lap cats from the cat food adverts. Every outfit I own comes with a side order of fur. I try to remove the worst of it before I leave the house but that’s it, I’ve learnt to accept my furry fate. I love the calming effect a cat has on a household. Cats make brilliant companions, and their independent nature means that they’re ideal for those who’d find a dog too demanding. Despite the naysayers, cats can be just as loyal and loving as a dog, and often pick one person as a favourite.There is no denying of course that a well-loved dog will be loyal to the entire family. A barking buddy is the best friend anybody can have, and I certainly don’t think I’ll ever live in a dog-less house again. I’ve gotten so used to having my shadow follow me round, the house would seem very quiet without him. I’ve also become acutely aware of how much I rely on the dog as a mini vacuum cleaner to snuffle up every tiny dropped crumb. When I go to a house without a dog it now annoys me that I have to pick up every stray crumb myself, whereas at home the crumbs are caught before they hit the floor!
Considering I grew up without a cat or a dog I can’t imagine being without them now, and although I dream of fur-free furniture and clothes it’s a small price to pay for the benefit of never being lonely, even when I’m home alone. The grooming, the vet bills, the food, the inability to dash off for a spontaneous weekend away without planning a petsitter, it’s all worth it. And I hope my spoilt pets enjoy sharing our company as much as we do – and our guests do too.
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