All the Pets I've Loved Before, Part Two: 16 to 27
On to pets 16 to 27! I seriously thought I’d had 10–15 pets, tops, because that seems reasonable once you’ve been alive a while and some of them were fish, but TWENTY-SEVEN. That’s a lot. I’m not a pet murderer or anything like that. A lot of them had naturally short lifespans to begin with — they were rodents, small birds, and fish — or they were sick when I bought them because pet stores are often terrible places. This is why I adopt cats from the humane society now. But that’s another matter.
On to the pets:
16–18) Ramirez, a snail of some kind; Alice (again), a mickey mouse platy; and Ralph (again), some small brown fish that could’ve been a platy: I checked the tank one morning, and all that was left of Ralph was his head. Alice looked innocent, but something seemed off about Ramirez, and I noted how he’d taken to dropping from the top of the tank repeatedly. Over the next week, I saw him crawling out along the plants outside the water so he could drop down, and it looked like he was trying to land on top of Alice. One day, he hit his mark. I saw him land on her and suck up one of her fins. It was gruesome. It took him all day to eat her. After that, Ramirez started leaving the bowl on his own, circling the lip and then sliming down the side. I started keeping a lid on it and had several dreams that he came for us while we slept. Snails often have short lifespans, and I was grateful for that creep’s death a few months later. That’s what you get when you name a creature after a serial killer, I guess.
19) Gordon, a mixed breed of lab rabbit offspring and a white-tailed jackrabbit, if that’s even possible: Gordon was a female rabbit who I assume was meant to be the matriarch of a warren, because she loved Aidan but tried to dominate me continually. She snuggled with Aidan, but bit me daily, peed on my stuff, and stole my food. Still, I loved her and did everything I could to give her a good life as the only known survivor of a mass rabbit poisoning at the university.
20 & 21) Elliott, a zebra finch, and George, possibly some kind of canary: We chose them for all the wrong reasons: Elliott because he was fat, and George because he was ugly and hated by all the other birds at the pet store. They made great cage mates, though. They were both sold to us as finches, but George didn’t look like other finches, and after a while he started singing. He was a mean little guy, but he sang just like a meadow lark.
22) Oskar, a black american shorthair cat:
Aidan picked Oskar out at the humane society because he was the most demure. It turned out that he was just too sick to meow much. We nursed him back to health, and he turned into the loudest and most socially persistent cat either of us have ever lived with. He’s still with us at 13.5 years old, and he never shuts up.
23 & 24) The Female and The Male, a pair of zebra finches: I don’t know why we didn’t name these ones properly, because I like them quite a bit. We adopted them from one of my coworkers, The female kept laying eggs that came to nothing, busily nest-building and flitting about nonetheless. One weekend, she got a bit too excited about her babies, though, and she decided to use all of The Male’s feathers to line her nest. She stripped him down until he looked like a miniature Thanksgiving turkey. I gave her lots of bright yarn to play with, and The Male recovered nicely.
25) Onion, a tabby with white american shorthair cat:
We adopted Onion to see if he would cure Oskar’s growing aggression towards me, which I theorized was part over-attachment and part boredom. Whatever it was, Onion cured him. Onion has been my boyfriend for 12.5 years now. He literally sleeps with his head on my shoulder between Aidan and I.
26) Lula, a black with white bib american shorthair cat:
A very intoxicated man claimed she was his kitty and offered to sell her to me for beer money. There was no way she was anyone’s proper pet. She was dirty and thinner than any living cat I’d ever seen. I and a couple of friends tucked her into a coat and took her to my apartment. We didn’t know if she’d last the weekend, but she’s a feisty beast, and now she’s the meanest 10.5-year-old who still looks like a sweet baby kitten. I like to think the other cats running for their lives keeps them healthy.
27) Augie, an orange tabby american shorthair cat:
One morning almost 1.5 years ago, Aidan texted me just after he’d left for work to let me know that a little stray kitten was hiding in our building’s entryway. I thought we were safely a three-cat family at that point, but, nope, we weren’t, because he was the sweetest little thing. I tried to get rid of him by taking him to the humane society for three days to see if his owners would claim him, but no one did, so he’s been with us ever since. He’s the dumbest cat I’ve ever had — we’re still working on proper litter use, how to bite raw meat, and how to sit on laps — but he just wants to love and be loved, and it’s adorable. Also, his head tilts permanently to the left but it doesn’t seem to bother him, and it ups his adorableness factor by about 15 points.
And there you have it: TWENTY-SEVEN PETS. That’s a lot of pets I’ve had. Luckily, we’re people who know what’s good for us, so we’re stalled at only four under this roof at one time. Nobody needs this much mammalian poop in one apartment. I think we’re good.