A Furry Announcement!

Bavarian kitteh playing with a chandelier on the floor, c. 1999. Photo: Wikipedia.
Bavarian kitteh playing with a chandelier on the floor, c. 1999. Photo: Wikipedia.


I hinted at something a few days ago. I hinted that I was thinking of getting a pet.

And it’s true that I have been thinking. And researching. And thinking some more. And looking at pictures. And watching videos to educate myself. I’ve been thinking of logistics. And problems. And joys. And I’ve come to a decision. A firm-but-not-final decision…to get one.

If all conditions were perfect for a pet in my life, I would get a dog. Not just any dog: a caramel-colored Miniature Maltipoo. These creatures are technically dogs, but only technically; really, the Miniature Maltipoo — a mini Maltese and Poodle mix — is a teddy bear that is alive and made of Pure Good. I have a folder of pictures of these criminally perfect…objects on my computer and I look at them when I feel sad, happy, or confused about any number of things, really, because no matter what my state of mind, the Mini Maltipoo makes everything better.

But Philip Larkin (for I have picked out my puppy’s name and he shall be named after my favorite poet) is not going to happen. There are a number of reasons I can’t have a dog right now in my life. They include:

  • my goofy schedule (not okay for a pup)
  • dogs are not allowed in my building (bit of a deal-breaker)
  • Philip Larkin would be so cute and perfect and lovable I would hug and hug and squeeze and squeeze him and love him so much I might squish him! (a legitimate concern)

My friend Sophie was over today and we had such a wonderful time. I sewed and she worked on a commissioned illustration.

“Sophie,” I said, as I sewed Dovetail blocks, “I have to tell you something.”

“You’re getting married. You’re pregnant. You’re going to Australia.”

“No, no. I have been thinking of getting a pet.”

Soph gasped, so excited by this she nearly knocked over her bottle of ink. I confessed to her my perfect pet would be Philip Larkin but that since Philip and I can’t be together right now for the reasons listed above, I have been considering getting… A kitty!

“You know, Soph, I think a kitty—”


“Don’t you think that would be sort of great? I mean —”


I’d never seen this woman so serious. “It would be good for me, honestly, to take care of a —”

“Yes. You. Mary. Cat. Yes.”

Sophie is one of the smartest people I have ever met. She loves me a lot. She has a heart as big as they come and she is also the owner of two cats that I happen to adore: Puppy and John. Sophie allayed my fears that getting a cat was some kind of a second-best option or a placeholder for Philip Larkin.

For me to have Philip Larkin, I would need to move, change careers, and/or live with another human being who could help me care for him. It seems a shame to have Philip Larkin or no pet at all, everor until my entire life looks different than it does today. This is not dress rehearsal! If I wait for the perfect time to go to grad school, do a 30-day yoga challenge (I’m on Day 11!), or design a line of fabric, that time may never arrive. We can all relate to this, no matter what the dream, the desire, the project, the life change. You wait and wait…for what? The perfect day may never come.

There could be a little cat in this world who needs me.

Something has been shifting in my heart over the past six months or so. I kinda want to take care of a being. A furry one, mind you; some will wonder if this is a biological clock thing and that’s fair, but I’ve searched myself and it’s really not a driving factor or a subconscious one, far as I can feel. My longing for a pet has something to do with the Literary Animal class I took this term. It has something to do with winter. It has to do with curiosity — about myself and about love. It definitely has to do with love.

I’m researching makes and models. (That’s a joke!) Some cats are better on their own than others. Some are more affectionate than others. I’m interested in shorter hair than longer hair. I’m going to go visit shelters and talk to cat owners. Sophie’s a great resource and has already agreed to come cat-sit if I’m going to be gone very long. I’m not 100% certain about this, but I am what you would call “seriously noodling.” The kitten would move in after I come back from Berlin, in mid-January.


p.s. Possible names include: Stevie Smith (other favorite poet), Pal, or…Philip Larkin.

48 Responses

  1. Jackie Roisler
    | Reply

    Yes, yes, yes on future kitty and purr-fect photos for we readers to eyeball. Squeeze!

  2. Christine
    | Reply

    Rescue two kitty fur babies at the same time. They will love to play with each other and give you twice the love!

    • Mary
      | Reply

      I have been reading this! About two! It makes sense! Oh, brother…!

      • Susan
        | Reply


      • Miranda E
        | Reply

        They’re a little like potato chips that way- you can’t stop at just one. That way they won’t be lonely when you’re travelog!

  3. Jess
    | Reply

    DO IT DO IT DO IT. I adopted an adult Burmese rescue cat. He’s basically a dog and he is the best thing or creature I have introduced to my home. Zero regrets. Maximum cuddles. (Some serious, but hilarious, mayhem.)

    • Susan
      | Reply

      Mary, consider this: serious but hilarious mayhem is fabulous PaperGirl fodder as well as some killer chicken soup for the PaperGirl soul. I’m sure Pendennis won’t mind and i promise kitty will never agrue with your views on politics, religion or which movie to watch while snuggled under a fabulous quilt on the sofa.

  4. Kristin
    | Reply

    If you sign up to be a kitty foster, you get to “test drive” some personalities and keep the perfect one for you! One that doesn’t fit can go on to its better-fitting forever home. 🙂

  5. Kathy LeLievre
    | Reply

    Cats are fabulous. Thankfully you are doing research and you have already found a sitter with your busy traveling schedule. All plusses in my book. Have had cats for years. They are the best. Get yourself a copy of Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cats even if it’s a few years old. The best book that was ever given to me way back when. I have to editions. It answered many questions. My cats have always been indoor/outdoor cats and I had wounds to take care of and it saved a lot of money on vet bills for the minor things and also for the “I have no clue what’s going on” stuff when you are a newbie because all you know about are dogs since you were a child. Congrats. Keep us posted.

  6. Susan Minshull
    | Reply

    Two cats would be sensible, they would keep each other company when you are gone. Visiting a shelter or two would be spot on, they have many to love. Don’t count out an older cat, they have many positive attributes.

  7. Baa Goldfarb
    | Reply

    Yes on Kittie BUT … make sure your not allergic!
    Test drive one first!
    Get it “fixed” & shots
    Get a good literbox & litter. You have to clean it every day!
    Good food (can cat food IS stinky) not necessarily the most expensive but not cheap junk
    Cat name…. they will pick their name you can have a few ideas but it’s got to be something that is them & you don’t mind saying a zillion times in a row when you call it or “train” it
    Shelters PLEASE check them first & consider an adult cat. people give up their animals for many reasons many adult cats owners were older & may have had a lifestyle change & unable to take cat with them & the cat is a great & loving wonderful cat that needs a new home. Adult cats are often trained & really cool & laid back & you can change the name too they don’t mind. Most cats love fabric & the sound of a sewing machine. 2 of mine loved to sit on my sewing table when I would make quilts I think the sound was soothing like an amplified purr

  8. Tracey
    | Reply

    Tuxedo cats are very friendly and have TONS of personality! We rescued one 3years ago, and he is definitely our fur baby. No regrets.

  9. Shannan Sabby
    | Reply

    I love you Mar but a cat means cat hair and it’s EVERYWHERE all the time. Shedding is a hard no for me!! The mini Maltipoo was a much better choice, no shedding!! Plus I have a friend who lives right by you in the Chicago loop and she has trained her dog to go on puppy pads.

  10. Patty Johnson
    | Reply

    Once you get a cat, you won’t want to go back!! I’ve had at least one cat all my life and wouldn’t have it any other way. I have 2 at the moment. You won’t regret it Mary, and the kitty will be forever your buddy! Go for it!!

  11. Robin Luther
    | Reply

    I felt very privileged (and never once regretted) being my cat’s foundling. Cam (Cammo, Camouflage) was my constant companion for 10 years. She moved with me 3 times, was there for 4 college graduation ceremonies (my children’s 2 Bachelor degrees, 1 Masters and 1 PhD, my son’s marriage, mom’s death and countless other landmark times in my life. She also never complained when I cried into her fur and she was also my living breathing medical alert because I’d get a paw in my face when my blood sugar went to low in the night. GET A CAT!

  12. Carol Broughton
    | Reply

    Please adopt a rescue kitty or two!

  13. Linda
    | Reply

    Definitely!!! Two is a great idea because then he/she will have a buddy to keep them company when you’re forced to leave the house or join them in the mischief they plot in your absence! Plus, you can join the legions of us who never leave home without cat hair as an accessory item or finish a quilt without feline embellishments!

  14. michelle
    | Reply

    Please adopt from a shelter! Homeless pets are the best animals. Why stop at one. Get two so they have each other when you are at school. When you sleep. When you eat.

  15. Penny
    | Reply

    Yes! Do it! I also just got the urge. I wanted short hair also. I ended up with a long haired tuxedo adult rescue cat. I spent about 10 hours total at the rescue center and ended up with Oliver. He is the most wonderful snuggle buddy ever!!! I have had him for almost 2 years now. One of my best decisions!!!

  16. Diana
    | Reply

    Foster to adopt is a great idea and so is two kitties. Many shelters have two kitties that are already bonded to each other and they would prefer to adopt them out together. Either way, a furry being in your life is a beautifully thing.

  17. Susan
    | Reply

    Make sure you have someone to check in on your furry baby when you are away. A weekend is ok but they do feet lonely and fresh water and a clean litter box are the best. Good luck

  18. Roxanne
    | Reply

    Mary if your serious about this then I say go for it! Only one little snafu, get 2. They will keep each other and you of course company. When your gone they will have each other to comfort and therefore no separation anxiety. It really is the best way. I have 3 and they are my best friends. And gues what, they keep all of my secrets. Yep they’ve never meowed a word to anyone.

  19. Peggy
    | Reply

    Two words: cat litter. Ya gotta smell it, ya gotta clean it and they track it through the house! Other than tha I say go for it!

  20. Carol Ann
    | Reply

    you will love a kitty. I have had cats most of my adult life, but now when this one, Buster, is gone I will have no more, because I have developed allergies, which you might bear in mind when you make the decision. Oh and I also have an adult “puppy”. named Jocko and I adore him

  21. Annie
    | Reply

    Another vote for getting two! We have two sibling kitties and when they had to be parted from their mother (possibly harder on me than it was on them) they transitioned so smoothly – I think because they had each other, they were never scared. They are The Sweetest, Happiest cats we’ve ever lived with!

  22. Mary
    | Reply

    Please consider this fine rescue organization in Chicago. http://www.treehouseanimals.org

  23. MrsB
    | Reply

    Get two, a bonded pair. Males. Neutered males get sweeter as years go by. Spayed females get grumpier.
    So, two boys, bonded pair who will love you to pieces and keep each other company when you’re not around.

    • Diane
      | Reply

      Indeed. Cats are delightful – unless they are not. As the owner of three frenemies who don’t get along well I spend lots of time thinking “What was I thinking??” but they are all wonderful in their own way and much beloved. Even though it is a bit like having Donald and Hillary in my kitchen at times….

  24. Marissa
    | Reply

    I grew up with dogs, and always thought I was a dog person. I always wanted to BE a dog person. In my later 20’s, I was living by myself and really wanted to furry creature to snuggle with. My schedule was crazy, I traveled a lot, and I knew a dog wasn’t in the cards for me. And so I got a cat – a very little kitten who was found abandoned on my parents farm. That was 11 years ago, and I’m happy to say she was one of the best chances I ever took. She’s a very happy only child, talks incessantly, loves to snuggle, and always puts a smile on my face when I walk in the door. Good luck with your research and your search – I’m sure your furry soul mate is out there waiting for you!

  25. nadine donovan
    | Reply

    Yes! I think a kitty would be wonderful for you! I have one kitty and 2 dogs. I love them all. They play nice together. They keep me company and comfort me all of the time. A win win situation!

  26. Colleen
    | Reply

    Be a foster kitty mommy first just to be sure kitty hair litter box cleaning sleeping with a fur baby and all that goes with keeping a kitty 24/7 in your home
    Just to make this comment all about me I am allergic to cats and dogs but that has not stopped me from having them in my life right now I have one cat she is both aloof and loving and always happy to either ignore me or happily greet me when I come home .

  27. Elizabeth
    | Reply

    I support this 100%! I’m a single gal living on my own and having a cat is just so lovely. I know that some cats have “attitude” and get a bad rap, but both of mine have been so sweet and affectionate and very attached to me. I think there’s a different dynamic in a one cat-one owner household — they appreciate you so much as the sole provider of everything. I currently have my second cat, Frannie, adopted almost 2 years after saying goodbye to my first-ever feline buddy Jack. I adopted both of my cats when they were 2-3 years old and it worked out really well, but kittens are THE CUTEST, so you do you. Can’t wait to hear about further developments!

  28. Kim
    | Reply

    Get littermates, they will play together. If you adopt from a rescue organization, they usually are spayed/neutered before they come home. And cats are usually litter-trained before they wean by the mother cat. Kittens are so much fun!

  29. Kelly
    | Reply

    You may want to consider getting two so they would have each other for company when you are gone. You can talk to the shelters and get two who are already friends (that’s what I did). Not all cats like each other so if you get two from different sources it might not be all hugs and cuddles. Very little is a good a kitty cuddles.

  30. Jen
    | Reply

    This is a great idea Mary. I had two cats and a dog for many many years through my late teens to late 30’s and they were all just awesome beings that brought so much to me over many years. I did travel and move during those years which was a challenge but always found good places for all of us. The cats were short hair (and so was the dog – boxer mix) and they shed but not much. As an artist (painter -i didn’t become a sewist until later) I had to take special care about shedding and I have to tell you a) those cats didn’t shed much and b) I found the absolute perfect and ONLY vacuum cleaner that worked with pet dander : the meile vacuum. There are many models. It’s VERY expensive but after many years of going through different approaches to cleaning this one was light years ahead of any other option. I am not associated with this company at all. Just sharing a “find” that I discovered during pet ownership that made things really nice. Highly recommend. Your kitty (ies) will find you as you begin your search! (Also, re: litter – I have a little tiny closet that I keep litter box in -and nothing else – that the neighbor cat uses when he visits it is not stinky and easy to clean and keep out of the way- this item is not necessarily a mess or too stinky at all – May not have spare closet in your condo but something similar would work)

  31. Claire
    | Reply

    Agee that two kittens are the best. If you go to a shelter, you will fall in love. Go with what you love. Traveling is only a small problem, a friend who can empty a litter box daily is a must. My friend gives each cat some wet food and refills the dry cat food bowl and empties the litter boxes. Note: a litter box where you get dressed is suboptimal.

  32. Lesley Gilbert
    | Reply

    Looking for a cat name? It’s staring you in the face – Philip Larkin = Pipkin 🙂

    • Mary
      | Reply

      oh. my. goodness.


      • Lesley Gilbert
        | Reply

        Yeah! 🙂

  33. Jenny
    | Reply

    Cats are a great gateway to dogs.

  34. Sarah
    | Reply

    So, OK. If you get two, you can have “Pip” & “Kin”. What’s not to like?

  35. Berlin, Chicago. - Mary Fons
    | Reply

    […] night, Sophie texted me. In a awful coincidence, the very day we were talking about my desire to get a cat and her deep, abiding love for her own two cats, one of them, John, experienced heart failure. […]

  36. Maria Pate
    | Reply

    IMPO and based on years of working at veterinary clinics across the country, orange tabbies are the coolest, most chill cats. Not sure why, just have great tempermants. Good luck cat hunting!

  37. Stephen Dempsey
    | Reply

    Merry Christmas Mary from your long time West Coast admirer Stephen Dempsey single, 48 in Corona, CA.
    Cats are needy. Good luck!

  38. Betty Elliott
    | Reply

    My cat’s name is Sophie (what an excellent name!) and was found in a parking lot when she was a kitten. I swear that she was a quilter in a previous life! She loves quilts, loves fabric, and is right there with me every step of the way. All I have to do is walk into my sewing room and she is right there on the table, waiting for me to start pulling out fabric for her to approve! (From what we can tell, she seems to be a Russian Blue with a little something else mixed in.)

  39. The Pet Update. - Mary Fons
    | Reply

    […] Back in December, I shared that I was thinking seriously of getting a kitty. […]

  40. […] There’s arts editor Irena, the beautiful art history graduate whose goofball tendencies are perfectly in balance with her naturally brooding temperament (a fabulous, fascinating mix!); there’s the recently-turned-21-year-old undergrad entertainment editor, Rosie, whose love for her fellow man, woman, and punk rock kid would melt the crustiest, grumpiest heart; there’s Justin, my colleague in the Writing department, who has read All The Most Interesting Books and Articles That Have Ever Been Written and whose wardrobe choices put mine to shame. And then there’s Sophie. […]

  41. […] dog. I get it, absolutely. I’ve been thinking about a dog for some time, now, as you may know. Those who support and participate in rescue animal adoption are people I respect very much and […]

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