Wednesday, December 15, 2010

All Creatures Great And Small

 B. C. asleep among our daughter's Littlest Pet Shop cats.

I've been called a critter magnet, and can't really argue with that - I've loved all creatures, pets, and wildlife since I was little.  (Except scorpions.  I just can't stand scorpions.)  Since the weather has gotten cold, I find myself being the most popular person in the house with our pets.  Every time I sit down, I wind up with a cat on my lap, most often Sophia, but sometimes B. C. or Molly.  Sophia is a very fluffy cat, but in her old age (she's 14) she's gotten quite thin under all that poof, and I'm sure this cold weather really affects her more than the other cats.  She loves nothing better than to snuggle into my lap for as long as I'll let her stay there, or to perch on my shoulders and make like a scarf while I type.  When my lap isn't available, she'll be sleeping on the clean laundry, or in the basket where we keep gloves and scarves in the closet.  It's a generous 18F and breezy today, so I can't blame her for being a heat-seeker.

I've gotten some odd reactions to our three guinea pigs.  Many people think they're cute, and a couple think they're glorified tailless rats, but most are surprised at the large cages we have for them.  But, when you think about it, a pet will only be as healthy as its surroundings.  Keeping a small pet in a small cage may sound good for our convenience, but if the habitat isn't generous it's really no better than having a person live in a combined small bedroom and outhouse.  Disgusting.  So, I'm a convert to using C&C (cube and coroplast) cages for our guinea pigs.  The guinea pigs are healthier, cleaner, and easier to take care of in these cages, and they're happier too.

Our daughter holding my guinea pig, Cocopuff.
Her guinea pig is Cookie, and our son's is Flash.

Did I mention I have fish?  Yes, the menagerie goes on.  A few years ago a friend gave me his 75 gallon tank and stand setup.  I had a 12 gallon tank, which was fun, but I had wanted a larger one.  It didn't occur to me to go out and buy a huge tank (they're NOT cheap!), but when Keith offered it to me, I was very grateful and happy to use it.  I don't have fancy fish - 8 goldfish (4 shubunkin, 2 comets, 2 common) and one female betta.  They don't mind the tank not being heated, and they've been tolerant of my learning curve as an amateur aquarist.  And, goldfish are comparatively inexpensive if you aren't buying large or fancy ones.  Anyhow, I enjoy my fish tank immensely - it's like having an indoor pond/waterfall, and it's so relaxing.  When our kids do sleepovers, they and their friends like to sleep in the family room and use the fish tank as a night light.

A rather seasick picture of the fish, taken by our son.

Finally, as if the indoor creatures weren't enough, I also have bird feeders in the back yard, and plant some things every year to attract birds and butterflies.  A corollary to having bird feeders is having squirrels.  I need to get a baffle for my bird feeder - right now I'm supplying the winter food for an industrious little gray squirrel.  Molly loves to sit on the window sill and chatter at whoever is visiting the feeder, feathered or furred.  It's like cat TV.


I don't know what I'd do without our pets around me.  How about you - are you a pet person?  What pets do you have?