Figueroa-Levin: Want a pet? Make sure it's a long-term commitment
I have three cats. All in my apartment. They're rescue cats -- two littermates born to a house cat the owner hadn't gotten spayed, the third a stray from Queens.
Before you write me off as a crazy cat lady, you should know that two of them were owned by my husband from before we met. So really, he's the crazy cat lady. Not me.
The only thing stopping me from rescuing more is that four cats couldn't thrive in our apartment. Four cats is a bit much for most apartments, and nobody wants to end up on the news because the police had to haul away their 50 hoarded cats.
But cat rescue is important to me -- and I hate that rescue groups have to exist.
People thinking of getting a pet -- cat or otherwise -- should make sure that they're capable of caring for it long term. A lot of rescue animals were ditched at the pound by their previous humans. Sure, you want the cute kitten now, but will you want a cat in six years? What about in 10, when it develops an expensive chronic condition that requires vet visits and pills?
Can't handle it? Don't get a pet.
Can handle it? Great! But before you run to a pet shop, consider getting a rescue animal. Many pet shops -- not all, but many -- get their animals from puppy (and kitty) mills, where the mothers spend their entire lives indoors, pregnant and pumping out babies. It's not healthy for the mothers, and many of the babies end up with health problems. Don't want to support that industry? Go to a shelter, pound or rescue organization.
Georgina Bloomberg, daughter of the mayor, was quoted last week criticizing Animal Care & Control, which runs the city's shelters. But that deflects from the issue. New York City's animal problems are caused by people, not pets. Pets that aren't neutered, pets who are abandoned by humans who don't seem to care that these animals are living creatures, general man-made irresponsibility.
When I was 10, our family got a dog from Animal Care & Control on Staten Island. She was with us for 12 years, good and bad, until she passed away. All my pets are with me for the long haul.
If you can't see yourself in 13 years with a cat, please, for the sake of the animal -- and the city -- get a pet rock instead.
Rachel Figueroa-Levin tweets as @Jewyorican, @EveryGentrifier and @ElBloombito.