Cat, Dog, Pot-Bellied Pig? We’re Getting a Pet and I Need Advice! [Save me from myself]

by Charlotte on November 7, 2012 · 118 comments

Maybe I’ll even get inducted into the club of people who make LOL cats!

200 goldfish in a man-made pond (out of a child’s plastic swimming pool, no less!) with a little footbridge over the top covered in twinkling lights: It was supposed to be the post-card pretty entrance for a local wedding reception but ended up going down in the annals of neighborhood bad decisions as one of the worst ever. I was about 12 years old at the time so of course to my romantic-al eyes it was all love, roses and really poufy sleeves and lace bibs (it was the 90′s after all). At the end of the night, the bride and groom were trundled off to their honeymoon suite in the Anniversary Inn – which was full of theme rooms with varying levels of kinkiness! Did they get the undersea paradise grotto with the anatomically correct mermaids? It was all the older kids could talk about. (Also: what does “anatomically correct” even mean when it comes to imaginary creatures?) But my mom had other things on her mind than copulating merpeople. Those fish. Namely, what would become of them now that their magical purpose was served and their pond had reverted back to a plastic swimming pool filled with sushi bites. The dumpster out back was discussed.

My mother has always had a very gentle soul. Which is how we ended up with 200 pet fish that night. My father was not amused to come home and find every container in the house filled with water and creatures in obvious distress. Despite my mother’s ministrations, the whole escapade had been too taxing for most of them and by the next morning we were down to around 100 pets. My brother, sister and I were overjoyed and spent the day giving 100 identical goldfish unique names. By week’s end though, we were left with about 30 and our toilet had been renamed The Graveyard. (After we learned the hard way that Tupperware do not make appropriate burial containers… for many soupy reasons.) My mom bought an aquarium. It wasn’t enough. We children became experts at identifying the final stages of fish death. Eventually we were left with Red Head Fred, the lone survivor of the wedding fish massacre, who lived with us for years. He became our family’s official mascot of resilience, strength and the power of being really lucky (and anatomically correct).

Eventually we added more pets to our house. Whether it was from my mom’s inability to say no to a cute little face or because my siblings and I were super persuasive, we ended up with (and I swear I’m not making this up) 1 dog we got from a cardboard box outside the grocery store, 3 rescue cats, 2 turtles, 1 lizard, 3 rabbits (including my French Lop, Taffy, who grew so fat we could no longer take her out of the door of her kennel), 2 guinea pigs (for my baby sister), 2 newts (which I personally named Olivia and John so that when they mated they would be… Olivia Newt On John. Hold you applause, please, because when they did mate Olivia horrified us by gobbling up all her own spawn minutes after they were birthed), 6 tree frogs, 8 hermit crabs and so many fish I don’t even dare count them. And I’m betting that after my sister reads this she’ll call to remind me of all our pets that I forgot. Oh, and my mom recently came home with a new “teddy bear” puppy that is officially the cutest thing I have ever seen in my life. Meet Quincy:

So I grew up with a menagerie. My husband grew up with a dog, Misty, whom he adored. It was inevitable that we would become pet owners at some point. My original rule was that we couldn’t get anything that crapped on the floor until my children stopped crapping on the floor. Who needs a puppy when you have a toddler to chew up everything in your wallet? But with Jelly Bean now 3 – Happy Birthday on Monday, baby! – that day is arriving. Even though I’ve been secretly enjoying my relatively fluid-free floors I knew I was fighting a losing battle. We finally decided on a rescue dog for our First Family Pet. My only rules were no puppies and no pitbulls. But of course it would be another animal to mess up my plans.

We have mice. Like, a lot of them. That forest the house backs up to that we found so charming when we moved in? Vermin paradise. I have shelled out $600 to Orkin over the past year to try and get rid of them but just when it seems we have them licked (not literally, that would be disgusting), a trap snaps and we’re right back to where we’re started. We have tried everything to get rid of the mice. Except one thing: “Get a cat,” advised everyone on Facebook. Apparently even if they’re not good mousers, just their feline smell can keep the mice away. Plus, you know, they’re cuddly and cute and our family wanted a pet anyhow. And with 5 bajillion homeless cats in the US (I made that number up, don’t correct me) how hard could it be to find one that would be a good fit?

Hard.

We went to our local pet adoption faire (yes, with an e) last Saturday only to be told – and not even in a nice way – that we certainly could not pay an exorbitant amount of money to adopt one of their rescue cats. The first problem was the kids. The lady in charge (hereafter referred to simply as Ms. Meanie) informed me that cats should not have to deal with kids under the age of 6. This surprised me because I’m guessing that cats have associated with toddlers ever since there have been cats and toddlers. We had a cat when my sister was born and she played with it and loved it for years. I can understand some cats not doing well with small kids but all cats? Really? The second problem was that I told her about the mice issue. Ms. Meanie got even huffier. “That’s ABUSE!” she spluttered. “We’re not adopting our cats out to be work animals! We want them to have a loving home!” It was all I could do not to roll my eyes and answer, “Lady, I have a job. My husband has a job. That cat wants a warm house and food and toys? It can have a job too.” Plus, don’t cats like chasing mice? I’m not saying we’d withhold food or punish it or even be mad at it if it didn’t help with the mice – the only danger a cat would be in at our house is maybe getting too loved on – but if the cat did help with the mouse problem, even if just with its presence, I’d be forever grateful. Is it such a bad thing to want a cat to help with mice?

So now we’re stuck. Do we keep trying to find a cat? And if so, what do we look for and where do we get it? Or do we go with the original plan of the dog? And if so, what kind? Help – I need pet advice! Any of you have small kids? What pets have worked the best for you? Any other mouse-deterring suggestions?

{ 117 comments… read them below or add one }

Han November 7, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Absolutely go for another cat. They aren’t the only shelter in town, shop around, and ask questions to the volunteers. Many shelter workers know the personalities of their cats and would be able to recommend one suited to your family and kids. Kittens are rambunctious but they would get used to the kids’ attention and rowdiness early on. Older cats do have the advantage of having a more “set” personality, so maybe a mellower kind would be best for your family. And seriously, don’t worry about the mice thing. I’m sure if you come upon a nice shelter and mention it to volunteers, they might even recommend a more fiesty pouncy cat. Good luck wtih your search!

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sara-hare November 7, 2012 at 11:42 pm

Most cats LIKE hunting mice. (And bugs, etc.) It’s fun and games for them (though not so much for their prey). Our cat gets so excited when crickets get in and she can stalk them and bat them with her paw and crunch them into little pieces and then lick the floor. Mice have long since run away. Crickets are apparently less smart than mice.

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Charlotte November 8, 2012 at 9:54 pm

We have very noisy crickets in the summer! Wouldn’t be sad if the cat helps with those too;)

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murk November 7, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Hi, long time lurker, but get a cat, they really do work. Check your gumtree/craigslist/free whatever – there are certain to be much loved cats that need new homes because owners have to move and can’t take with – and they won’t be as ridiculous as the shelter. If you get an adult cat, just try to find one that has some experience with kids, else it will hid under the bed all day :)

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Sue November 8, 2012 at 1:03 am

I vote for the cat! I’ve grown up with one myself, and while she wasn’t a good hunter (no mice in our house anyway), she was a great companion and friend for almost 15 years.
Cats are quite independent and care for themselves, while dogs are a lot more work. They need to be fed, walked, and trained properly, or else they steal your food and destroy your favorite pair of shoes. And still crap on your carpet.

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Sabine November 8, 2012 at 1:06 am

Wow, people at pet adoptions in the US are as crazy as they are here in Germany!
I definitely do understand that they all just want the best home for the pets they’re taking temporarily care of but sometimes their ideas go a bit too far. At our local shelter for example they won’t give you only one cat because that would be cruel to the pets.
I say: try it again, maybe at another shelter. Or maybe you will find someone who needs to give away their home pet (due to an allergy or else) so that that pet won’t have to stay at a shelter (even if it’s not for long).
Good luck with finding your new family member!

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Charlotte November 8, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Oooh no way can I handle TWO pets! Glad they didn’t have that rule too!

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Allison November 9, 2012 at 9:37 am

I had the same thoughts about having a cat. We told a neighbor that we only wanted one kitten from her cat’s litter (She waited too long to get her cat fixed). However, she couldn’t find a home for the litter mate and I caved to adopt them both. I haven’t regretted it a bit. They are best friends. When we aren’t home they keep each other company. It hasn’t been any different then having one. Both have different personalities and each cat has chosen a different person in the family as their “favorite person”.

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Krusticle November 9, 2012 at 10:01 am

We had a similar experience when adopting two of our cats — the private adoption ladies practicually wanted to see our tax returns and check our teeth to make sure we were capable of taking care of a kitten. Our beloved cat had died of kidney failure at the age of 18, so I think we did fairly well with longevity. Anyway, when we adopted our third cat, it was an SPCA-sponsored adoption at the local Pet’s Mart. The SPCA is a lot more flexible than the Ms. Meanie biddies; the only condition was that we could not take the kitten home that Saturday. We had to pay the adoption fees (that included shots and neutering) and then pick her up from a local vet on Monday after she had been spayed. (They won’t waste resources on an animal that does not get adopted and they don’t trust you to follow through with the shots and neutering on your own.) Fair enough. So, Charlotte, check with your local SPCA and see what adoption events they have coming up.

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Krusticle November 9, 2012 at 10:12 am

Oh, also, NEVER tell them that you intend to let the cat outside. You promise the cat will be raised indoors-only. Yes, our cats go outside during the day (they have to come in at sundown), and we’ve been the recipients of many a dead mouse and the occasional lizard. But the private adoption folks consider letting them outside to be abuse, too.

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Emily Crow November 9, 2012 at 2:43 pm

It really is better to keep cats inside if at all possible, though. Cats who are let outside don’t even live half as long, on average, as though who are indoors only. Many of my beloved childhood cats, who went outside, died young or disappeared; there are so many dangers — traffic, disease, other animals, cruel humans (I’ve heard of people both shooting and poisoning cats in my area.) On the other hand, my parents indoors-only cat just passed at age 19. Also, depending on where you live, outdoor cats might be killing songbirds or endangered wildlife. So, I don’t judge people who let their cats out–we used to do it, too–but it’s safer to keep them in.

Krusticle November 9, 2012 at 8:01 pm

I agree, Emily, especially if you live in a busy neighborhood. We kept our cats indoors until we moved to a house in the suburbs with little traffic and a walled-in backyard. By that time, the cats were all older than three years old and more cautious with strangers and scary noisy things than kittens usually are. And, again, we only let them out in the day — night time is when bad things happen. Now that they’re 13, 12 and 9, respectively, they’re smart enough to appreciate this good life they have going and they all show up for nummies at sundown.

Sarah November 8, 2012 at 1:39 am

I’m a cat person myself with two rescue kitties and see no reason a cat wouldn’t suit your family. You would have to get the right cat … not too young, not too old – say 1-2 years old might be best, a playful cat which is used to children. But I know loads of families with children and cats together and its not a problem!

And as for the mouse thing – my cats would be delighted if I got a box of 20 live mice and emptied it round the house. Chasing anything that moves is a cross between instinct and play for them – it would keep them entertained for hours. Its not work, haha! Plus, a cat never does anything it doesn’t want to – if it didn’t fancy chasing mice, it wouldn’t do it.

I agree with Sue that cats are more independent than dogs, however you can’t take a cat on holiday, and may need a suitable local cattery, or some friendly neighbours to keep an eye on them.

I would definitely say get a rescue animal – its so nice to give a home to an unloved animal whether it be dog or cat :)

Got a new pet myself last weekend – a terrapin. Rehomed him from a friend who couldn’t look after him any more.

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Charlotte November 8, 2012 at 10:03 pm

“Plus, a cat never does anything it doesn’t want to – if it didn’t fancy chasing mice, it wouldn’t do it. ” Hahaha TRUE. Enjoy your terrapin!

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Sigi November 8, 2012 at 5:36 am

Ms Meanie is a complete idiot.

I’m sure there are numerous other means of finding a moggie who needs a home, and has the personality to handle small children. My late and lamented furry friend was a stray who hung around my Mum’s back yard until we took her in, and she was the most wonderful, affectionate and sociable companion ever. She was terribly patient with little people, even those who “patted” her a bit too hard, and would follow them around as they played in the garden, just because she liked being with people. And she didn’t mind bringing home the occasional catch (or, ugh, the remaining uneaten half of the catch) to proudly deposit on our front doormat.

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Sica November 8, 2012 at 5:52 am

Get a cat.

It’s not cruel wanting a cat to help control mice. My cat would find it absolutely brilliant. I used to have mice and she caught them but quite quickly the mice learnt not to come in which upset the cat a lot because mice are the best toys ever from her point of view.

I had a similar thing though when I got my cat. Talked to rescue agency and because I work full time outside the home I wasn’t deemed good enough for a cat so I actually ended up with a purebred Bengal kitten from a really excellent small local breeder (she raises the kittens in her kitchen and only around 2 litters a year).

My cat’s now close to 7 years old and she is a massively pampered pet and we both have a fantastic time living together. I find that because cats are fairly independent you tend to get back what you put in when it comes to companionship while dogs make sure to go and get your companionship. However there’s something fantastic about having a creature choosing to be with you when it has the option not to which is something I like about cats.

Dogs are so hardwired to need companionship that they’ll pretty much always want to be around you if they’re your pet (I love dogs too in a big way, just the working full time doesn’t fit with having a dog)

A consequence of all this though and a key insight about cat is that they get no kick out of pleasing you and don’t really care about upsetting you (in a social sense anyway) so when it comes to training them dog tactics really don’t work. However almost all of them get a kick out of hunting mice so no training needed there :)

Here she is doing yoga :P
http://www.flickr.com/photos/siggav/432896162/

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Charlotte November 8, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Awww! I don’t even really know what a bengal kitty is but I love that you two found each other!! Cuuuute!

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Sigi November 10, 2012 at 12:42 am

Oh Sica, she is beyooooootiful. I *love* Bengals!

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Harold November 8, 2012 at 6:11 am

We have 3 cats (down from 6) and a dog (Jack Russell Terrier). The cats are definitely much more independent, but come around and are very affectionate. A rescue animal is fine, they have all of their shots and physicals, however, there are often free kittens available in the paper, which is an option if your local shelter is to much of a pain in the butt or has unrealistic expectations/criteria for adoption of the critters that are at their shelter. Sometimes it seems as though they are a bit over-zealous about some things.

As far as a cat being a mouser mine “love” it when a dumb mouse decides to come visit. Then they fight with one another to see who gets to play with it, plus the dog loves to chase mice as well.

Good luck with your pet search :-)

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Charlotte November 8, 2012 at 10:15 pm

I really don’t want a kitten though… I think we need an adult kitty! So glad that yours is a good mouser! Maybe I’ll get lucky too:)

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Sajego November 11, 2012 at 10:31 am

If you’re not sure about a cat you could see if the local shelter uses foster families. I have fostered several litters of kittens for a month or so until they were old enough to be adopted. I would definitely foster an adult cat before committing to adopting them.

I think you’d do well with kittens and definitely a pair. They are so much fun to watch and they really do keep each other company. Two happy cats are less work than one lonely cat.

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Courtney November 8, 2012 at 6:12 am

Ug, you encountered the crazy pet rescue lady! They are everywhere! Don’t let that one deter you, there must be other rescue organizations in the area? And if not, check Craigslist or the paper for people giving away kittens, call local veterinarians and see if they have anyone looking for homes for kittens, or ask local pet shops.

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Sica November 8, 2012 at 6:15 am

One extra bit while I remember, and I hope this doesn’t kick off a major discussion but my only exception to the get a cat pointer is if you’re not comfortable with the fact that cats have claws.

Clipping the claws to make them more blunt is easy and there are soft paw caps to put on as well but declawing is illegal in all of Europe for a reason. Also for a mouser having claws is important. They’re there for a reason.

People have clawed cats with children all over the world without problems. Part of the child + cat experience is to teach the children when to leave the cat alone etc. and respect the animal. If you’re stuck on wanting a declawed cat please adopt an already declawed adult cat vs. having the surgery performed on a healthy young cat.

I know this is a topic that is quite touchy and emotions tend to run high. So Im a little bit wary of bringing it up but there’s also a lot of people who have no idea how traumatic that particular surgery is for a cat and the long term health problems that can happen.

Yes declawed cats can have happy long lives just like people with various disabilities have long happy lives but I think most would prefer not to have to deal with their disability if it were an option. Same with the cats. Anyway I’ll get off my soapbox.

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Shelly November 8, 2012 at 6:43 am

I have a cat with no front claws (my husband got him in college and didn’t know not to declaw him but now really regrets doing it) and a cat I adopted as a feral kitten who is in full possession of all of his claws. Guess who’s the biter?
Declawed cat of course! Feral cat seems to know that he has claws if he needs them but be more of a pacifist as a result.

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Shady November 8, 2012 at 8:51 am

Biting in declawed cats is common, as are litter box problems, other behavioural issues and lameness. Also, the claws can occasionally grow back and cause major issues because they rarely grow back right, requiring a 2nd medically necessary declaw surgery. Not intended to attack you (we’ve all done things that we regret) just to add my 2 cents.

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Shelly November 8, 2012 at 9:03 am

Don’t worry! I don’t feel attacked and I agree with you completely! My husband had the cat declawed long before we knew each other (his friends gave him the cat when he was a freshman in college!), and we are both against de-clawing now, although thankfully the kitty is a great cat and other than the biting hasn’t had any issues from being declawed.
He says its really sad when our cat would see other cats he’s lived with over the years (his former roomate’s pets) climb up things (like cat trees) and tries to follow but can’t do it. And we both think that the cat bites because he doesn’t have claws.

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Charlotte November 8, 2012 at 10:19 pm

That makes a lot of sense, actually. And I love that you described your feral cat as a pacifist!

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Charlotte November 8, 2012 at 10:18 pm

No worries, we wouldn’t declaw any cat – especially since I want her to be able to catch mice! How can you catch critters without the sharps? I talked to a different shelter today and the lady there said as long as I clip their nails and give them a scratching post our furniture should be safe…

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Krusticle November 9, 2012 at 10:24 am

And check the local pet store for a product called Sticky Paws. Basically, this is clear double-stick tape (although much thinner than regular tape, nearly invisible) and you apply it to corners of couches and other items the cats are interested in clawing. They don’t like the sticky stuff, and the product doesn’t damage or stain the furniture. Eventually, the cat gets used to the fact that those pieces of furniture are not available and he stops trying, and you can remove the tape for good.

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Elia November 25, 2012 at 10:10 am

Cats get into and onto just about anything, so to preenvt items from getting broken you have to either keep them out of reach, such as behind doors in a cabinet, or use a putty like Quake Hold that will keep the items in place. It is not all that different from when there are young children around the home, except they can get into more places.Cats are quite independent, and usually need love and attention, along with food, water and litter. But the larger bills are for vet care, as those are not spread out over the month. They are not high, and often just once a year is all that is needed, but it is usually costs up front. Typically, perhaps $100, and if you have to have the cat spayed or neutered, it will be a larger hit to your wallet.I am giving a link to an article on introducing a kitten into your home. There are suggestions, and a list of things to get. I ignore a bed, as they find a place, and I would get one of those inexpensive cardboard scratchers.Monthly care costs can usually be handled through a normal household budget. They are not large, but can vary. Some feed small cans of very expensive food, and others find a quality food that serves just as well at a much lower cost. And litter is not expensive. If monthly costs are a real concern, you may not be ready for a cat anyway.

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Cbuffy November 8, 2012 at 6:37 am

Arrgh – crazy adoption agency people. We tried to adopt a greyhound. They came out to do a “home inspection” (seriously) and we were denied. 1. There is no TV in the “dog room” so obviously we don’t spend any time out there and the dog would be unloved. (Never mind we live on a mini-farm and the dogs spend their days outside with us and the night in their crates in the dog room…) 2. We live on a mini-farm and there is “too much property. The dog will run itself to death.” I swear that’s what they said. Gaaah. We drove across the state to a lovely rescue and our greyhound LOVES his life. He does 2 laps of the property as fast as he can run and then lays down. And NOTHING can intice him to move again til he is darn good and ready.

Get a cat from a normal human. You’ll love it!

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Amy H. November 8, 2012 at 1:15 pm

My parents live on a farm and checked out puppies from rescues. They, too, were denied because the dog would not be spending every waking minute inside. Um, since when do large dogs *not* enjoy being outside, running around in the grass and sunshine? Good grief! They were also uncomfortable with the multiple home visits required. They’ve had dog(s) for as long as I’ve been alive (30+ years) and trust me when I say that these dogs were spoiled rotten. This was their experience at at least 3 adoption agencies. Ridiculous!

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Charlotte November 8, 2012 at 10:23 pm

That’s insane! Your farm sounds like doggy heaven!!

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Shelly November 8, 2012 at 6:44 am

Do you have an outdoor building and space away from a road by any chance? You could adopt a barn cat for outside!
http://www.barncats.org/

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Charlotte November 8, 2012 at 10:23 pm

I wish. We don’t have either of those things:( Plus, I think Minnesota is too cold to have an outdoor cat…

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Melissa November 8, 2012 at 7:00 am

Find another shelter that will let you go and spend a little time with their cats and that knows which cats are good with kids. Some cats are fantastic with kids, other not so much. Just like people, different cats have different personalities. Our cat is 15 and has been outstanding with our daughter who is 4. I used to volunteer at a shelter and there were definitely cats that would not have been a good fit with us, but others were very lovable and tolerant.

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Melissa November 8, 2012 at 7:15 am

There’s a picture of me as a baby lying on top of the very unhappy-looking family cat. Ms. Meanie might have been referring to the fact that when small children love a pet, they don’t yet understand the concept of being gentle about it. That said, that cat lived to be 19 years old, and she adored me. Maybe she hated me when I was a baby and doing things like…well…lying on top of her (I don’t remember, so who knows?), but when I grew out of it, she got over it. She was already an adult cat during both my childhood and my little sister’s, and she lived a long, healthy, much-loved life.

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Charlotte November 8, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Hahah best picture ever! I have a childhood pic of me dressing up my dog like a baby. That’s not unusual but his sweet little face… he looked like he’d just given up.

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Katie November 8, 2012 at 7:16 am

There is a great shelter down in Hastings called Animal Ark. Check them out online at animalarkshelter.org.

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Charlotte November 8, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Thanks Katie! Hastings is a little far for me but I’ll check out their website!

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Ty November 8, 2012 at 8:02 am

Go to another “faire” and lie, lie, lie. Leave Jelly Bean at home. Don’t mention mice. Or find another shelter/rescue that isn’t so anal. They aren’t all that way. (We have some of both here in Ann Arbor).

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Charlotte November 8, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Hahah – I won’t say I haven’t considered that option…

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DeLacy November 8, 2012 at 8:28 am

I have two cats and two dogs (and a baby on the way! – my house is nuts) and of the four, I have one good mousing cat and one fabulous mousing Chihuahua-mix dog. That dogs has taken care of any mice we’ve ever had in our house and even tried to take out two squirrels that accidentally got in.

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Charlotte November 8, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Okay: Cannot imagine what I’d do if a squirrel got in my house! I mean they look so cute and fluffy but I’m pretty sure I’d feel differently if they were on the inside of my window…

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Shady November 8, 2012 at 8:44 am

New reader, old cat expert here. Keep looking around for a rescue cat or one that is bound to end up as a rescue cat (as others suggest, craigslist or kijiji for people who have to rehome their animals). Shelters tend to be more flexible with their adoption policies than independent rescues. But foster parents are a great asset in that they will know the intimate details of their charges personalities. Don’t depend on the cat to keep mice away, either actively or just by virtue of it’s presence. I have 3 (plus many, many fosters) and I still had a huge mouse problem, until I was able to find the hole they were getting into my apartment through. Only one of mine even has a passing interest in hunting the little buggers. Finally, just a bit of a safety concern (and I’m sure you’ve considered this already given the toddler you share your home with) but be careful where you place your traps and do not use any poisons to control the mouse problem if a cat does join your household. If a cat kills and eats a mouse that had previously been poisoned, there is some risk the cat could get sick itself, not to mention if it got into the poison directly.

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Charlotte November 8, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Thanks Shady! We’ve been searching the house through and through for holes. I think we’ve plugged them all (knock on wood) so I’m hoping it’s just a matter of taking care of the ones still in the house… Oh and no worries – we would never use poison! Not with our kids in the house. The only traps we have in our house are the regular snap traps (icky but effective) for the rooms/places the kids can’t reach and then the walk-in traps for places like our kitchen.

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Azusmom November 8, 2012 at 9:23 am

Wow! That woman from the shelter apparently would rather the cats be euthanized than placed in a home with young kids. Way to do your job, Ms. Meanie!
I’d say take your time, meet a few different potential pets, and the right one will come along. You may even consider a slightly older pet, one who,s already house trained having a harder time getting adopted since so many folks want puppies/kittens.

And Quincy is soooooooo cute!!!!!!!!

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Charlotte November 8, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Yeah, we want an adult cat. I can’t handle a kitten right now!

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Krusticle November 9, 2012 at 10:32 am

Try for a six-month old cat. Young enough to be energetic and adaptable to your family, but old enough to get into mousing (and understand the catbox concept). Female cats this age usually show in shelters just after they’ve had their first litter of kittens.

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deb roby November 8, 2012 at 9:25 am

Rescue group are strange. We got our latest puppy from a rescue group: had to have 2 home visits with the pup, and a home inspection before we could adopt her.

Most counties or municipalities around the states have an animal shelter. You pay a small adoption fee (usually the amount of the license) and take home the pet of your choice. No inspections or restrictions applied- except getting the pet neutered/spayed.)

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Cat November 8, 2012 at 9:28 am

Don’t be too quick to discount pitbulls. There are no ‘bad’ pitbulls, just bad owners and I’m quite sure you wouldn’t fit into that category. We’ve a pit mix and he’s incredibly loving and gentle. The breed was originally used as nursery dogs to guard children!

Happy pet hunting, I think the golden rule should be that whatever you get, get it from a rescue shelter. :)

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Jasmine November 8, 2012 at 10:52 am

I second that. My sister has a very well-behaved pit bull she’s trained up for shows and weight-pull competitions. She’s perfectly fine around kids, and conditioned to not play with anyone unless she has a knot of rope in her mouth, that’s usually enough to assuage any parental concerns neighbours have about their kids playing with such a powerful animal. All it takes is proper training.

And yay for rescue animals!

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Charlotte November 8, 2012 at 10:42 pm

I’ve heard people say that and I do have a good friend with a king pit who is a delightful dog. But I guess I have a hard time discounting all the horror stories… I didn’t know that about pits originally being nursery dogs!

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Sarah Q. November 13, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Absolutely! I volunteer with a pit bull education & rescue group and I have never, NEVER met dogs who were as loving & good with kids. They are actually the “kissing-ist” dogs out there – all they want to do is give kisses and snuggles. Pit bulls were called nanny dogs for years & are still known for being fantastic family pets. Also, there is only ONE actual “pit bull” and that is the American Pit Bull Terrier. However there are more than 15 breeds of dog, not to mention all the mixed mutts who are labeled as pit bulls – pit bull is really an umbrella term for a dog that looks a certain way. And a lot of dogs I’ve seen called pit bulls or pit mixes were actually NOT – they were Boxer mixes (similar big block head & muscular) or some type of Mastiff mix (again, big head, muscular).

People have a hard time discounting pit bull horror stories … well I remember when those horror stories were about Rotties, Dobies, & German Shepherds and SO many people conveniently forget that. Also a note – the last 3 small children/babies in the news killed by dogs were killed by Labs, and another not long before that by a Jack Russell – just FYI. Any dog can be a bad dog no matter their size or their breed and any dog can “snap” around children if the children aren’t taught proper handling & behavior – some dogs have VERY high prey drives & a small child runnning could flip the switch on the prey drive.

Having said all that – I work with shelter dogs and I have five cats at home as well as an American Bulldog (which often fall under the pit bull umbrella). I volunteer through my rescue group to work with the shelter dogs at the largest animal control facility in my state. Do not, do not, do not get ANY animal that you don’t feel comfortable with & that you’re not certain you will want to have forever. I see so many cats & dogs get put down because the owners couldn’t handle potty training, or the dificulty obedience training a dog, or fur on furniture, or walking the dog or scooping the litterboxes. Don’t rush into picking a pet. Visit your local human society/animal control shelters & let your new pet pick you. Someone in the family (you, your hubby, one of the kids) will look into the eyes of a cat or a dog & something will click and they won’t be able to stop thinking about/going back to that animal. That’s the one you take home =)

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alexa November 8, 2012 at 9:30 am

Mrs. Meanie is an idiot. My cats- who I’ve had before my kids- have adjusted fine to having kids. And cats are fast, when they’ve decided had enough attention from the kids the jump somewhere the kids don’t reach them.

There are definitely good and bad fits for your household but at least half the cats out there would probably love you and your family. And as a pet lover who grew up with a similar menagerie whose pets fall more into the cuddle category than the work category there is nothing wrong with an animal having a job. She is a nut.

I’d check out craigslist or a different shelter. You can even post on craiglist that you’re looking for a cat and someone might reach out to you. She is a nut. Good luck on finding a family friend!

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Charlotte November 8, 2012 at 10:43 pm

“And cats are fast, when they’ve decided had enough attention from the kids the jump somewhere the kids don’t reach them.” Exactly! I had kitties – I know they know how go invisible when they want to.

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Jill G November 8, 2012 at 9:32 am

Nearly peed my pants laughing so hard at the mental image of fish in your house. And the Graveyard. So sad. So funny.

To echo everyone else: I have some words for Miss Meanie that I’ll not post here. She’s an idiot. Perhaps you should dump a box of mice in Miss Meanie’s home? No no no, bad idea. Bad. Idea.

Cats have personalities, some love kids, some don’t. Her over generalization is grossly wrong.

So ignore Miss Meanie. If you stay on the hunt for a cat, I would have said Animal Ark in Hastings (as Katie mentioned above) or I really love Caring for Cats in St. Paul (www.caring-for-cats.org). It’s a great no-kill shelter and they’ll be able to tell you about personalities of the kitties. And regardless of where you go (and whether for dog, cat, or pot-bellied pig), ask about return policy if the pet isn’t a good fit for your home. It happens, you bond with the dog or cat, get them home and they just don’t do well. Or perhaps you have a cat that makes friends with mice instead of eliminating them. That would be a problem.

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Charlotte November 8, 2012 at 10:46 pm

“Perhaps you should dump a box of mice in Miss Meanie’s home? No no no, bad idea. Bad. Idea.” Yes. Totally…bad… idea. Hmmm….

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Lauren November 23, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Check your local Craigslist pets section! People are always moving and looking for homes for their pets!

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JavaChick November 8, 2012 at 10:13 am

My cats love chasing mice. And birds. And grasshoppers. And frogs. I’ve found a dead mole in the yard and a dead bat in the house. Finding all the dead things makes me sad, but my cats are quite happy doing the hunting.

As for cats and kids – we had cats the whole time I was growing up. Not every cat is going to be happy to live with toddlers, but there are definitely cats that get along fine with kids.

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Happier Heather November 8, 2012 at 10:39 am

Wow, it just floors me how often rescue animals don’t get a loving home because those attempting to save them won’t let them go to loving homes. My cats have a blast when they have a mouse to chase! Though, in the six years I’ve lived in my house, we’ve only had two mice get in the house. My sister ended catching one and the other was caught and killed by a cat, then hidden behind the litter box.

Anyway, I highly recommend a cat. In fact, my first “inherited” cat was brought into the house for the purpose of getting rid of mice. He wasn’t much of a hunter, but his presence did take care of the problem. After the mice were gone, all he had to do was lay around and be loved…tough life.

Cats are also good for busy, on-the-go families because you don’t have to be home at certain times to let them outside to potty. You can leave for a weekend as long as they have a clean litter box, enough food and enough water. They’re pretty self-sufficient that way.

Best of luck to you! I wish I had more advice on finding the right cat, but my first came into my life by accident and my other two, I picked from our farm litter.

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Jasmine November 8, 2012 at 10:48 am

I got both my kitties through Kijiji ads. A quick search will find you any number of cats, from mewling newborns to old and fat snugglers, who need new homes. All are generally free.

Might I suggest looking for a Maine Coon like my youngest? They get big and fluffy, can handle cold weather, and are awesome mousers. If you get ‘em young they can be trained to put up with anything.

(I played with my kitties’ ears and tails and paws like I was a hyper toddler for a week or so, now they’ll put up with friends’ kids gnawing on their noses without any stress.)

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Charlotte November 9, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Just googled Maine Coons and they are cuuuuute!

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carrie November 8, 2012 at 10:50 am

As many others have mentioned, check out craigslist. You will find hordes of cats/kittens to pick from. With the kids I would recommend going with a kitten – an older cat may be traumatized by a bunch of kids trying to get at it all of a sudden. Many people do make the mistake of teaching their new kitten who the boss is in the house. And then they end up with cats that bite. My mother could pick the best cats- and train them to be wonderful house pets. She gets a kitten – when it hits its ‘teen’ months, it will try to test authority figures – which is every person in your home. You must show the kitten that it is not the boss. My mom does this by holding her arms up and ‘puffing’ herself up. It scares the cat off (she was puffing herself up and strutting around too) because my mom is the bigger ‘boss’. That takes care of most bad behavior issues. And catching mice is basically FREE habitat enrichment. Stuff that zoos work so hard to provide to their animals! Crazy cat faire lady! And, while dogs are great, they are more needy than cats- you already have kids, a house, a husband and exercise addiction to take care of, don’t add a dog to your list!

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Charlotte November 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm

I love your mom already and I’ve never met her. I’m calling her when my kids get to be teens!

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carrie November 8, 2012 at 10:52 am

Above that should have been that ‘many people make the mistake of NOT teaching their kitten who the boss is’

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Cristina @ Tiny Perfect Bites November 8, 2012 at 10:53 am

Your city shelter will probably let you adopt a cat. Rescue organizations can be very strict. A dog will definitely deter mice as well, and some breeds are bred to catch mice (rat terriers, jack russells, etc.). I would recommend a slightly larger dog so that it can stand up to your kids, though. Good luck!

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India November 8, 2012 at 10:54 am

It’s usually far more expensive to adopt a adult cat than to acquire a kitten. If you check your local newspaper, people often put in ads for free (or very inexpensive) kittens. They potty-train MUCH more quickly than puppies, too, so when I got my six-week-old kitten, he was already an accomplished litter box user. And as an aside, male cats are usually more affectionate than females. :)

I wish you luck in your pet adventures.

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Stephanie November 8, 2012 at 10:59 am

Cats like hunting mice (or grasshoppers or….). Neither of my cats seemed to feel over-worked. :)

Cats (at least young cats) can often adjust to children. Both of ours did – we did get them as kittens, though. We found at least one of them through a local veterinarian’s clinic.

A drawback to cats…allergies. Speaking from personal experience. Gah.

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Charlotte November 9, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Yeah and we don’t know if any of our kids will be allergic since they’ve never really been around them for long before…

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Susan Helene Gottfried November 8, 2012 at 11:06 am

I volunteer in rescue, as a foster cat mom. One of the things I evaluate the kitties for is how well they get along with kids. Okay, my kids are older than Jelly Bean, but I’d be able to tell you what my fostered guests do/don’t like in reference to typical little-kid behavior. (Tail pulling, being picked up and dragged around the house like a stuffed animal, an excited little one running toward the cat… all that sort of thing.)

Cats and little kids CAN get along. Both have to learn, especially the kids. (So do their friends, so be prepared for that, too!)

Find a shelter that’s not so stuffy, one that’s actually interested in your family and helping you find the right fit. Just remember: most shelters will require you to keep the cat inside. And it sounds like you’ve got enough mice inside to keep kitty happy.

Last, some (erm) food for thought: when I had a mouse problem (despite the presence of two cats, one who quickly decided he had a treasure trove of new toys), I would put the mousie with its broken neck (kitty played rough with his toys) in the freezer until I could deliver it to an owl rescue group. One mouse has LOTS of purposes, you know: cat toy, owl food, and then, in the form of an owl pellet, science experiment!

Your boys will LOVE that last part.

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Charlotte November 9, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Oh yes, it will def. be an inside cat! And I think you are a stronger woman than I am – I don’t think I could have half-eaten rodents in my freezer…

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Susan Helene Gottfried November 9, 2012 at 3:25 pm

They weren’t half-eaten. They just had had their necks snapped. My cat was very good at doing that. It was sickly fun to watch.

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Charlotte November 9, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Yeah… Still no;)

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Danielle November 8, 2012 at 11:08 am

I’m a huge animal lover and I have 4 adopted cats (2 of them are 3 yrs old, other is 7 months and the baby is 4 months old).

Cats are by far the best pet you can have, cuddly, loyal, cute, playful but must of all, they are super clean, they don’t need too much space, they exercise on their own… My sister in law has a huge cat and when her kids where babies/toddlers/kids they got along perfectly (and he wasn’t the most patient of cats) When given love, cats love back and get used to any kind of love demonstration.

Now, if you REALLY want to get rid of those mice, get a snake (a Python, a boa, something like that) Mice are terrified by snakes (I had one once, they are beautiful, but not always cuddly, lol) the problem is that must people hate snakes, but they are the best for mice control.

Anyway, dogs are adorable too, but they require a lot of training and rules, so cats are easier to have and way cuter.

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Charlotte November 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm

It’s a measure of how desperate I am that for a minute I was actually considering snakes. In my basement. But… no.

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Peronel November 8, 2012 at 11:32 am

Cat adoption people can be bonkers. A friend of mine was almost refused a cat because her house had windows. Apparently cats don’t like windows. Seeing stuff go past is deeply traumatic for them. Who knew?

Fortunately, sense prevailed eventually. The cats seem to have come to a truce with the windows – you’d hardly know they were distressed.

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Charlotte November 9, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Windows?!? That’s insane. Glad the cats are handling it well…

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alice November 8, 2012 at 11:33 am

At our last house we’d dig up mouse nests every fall when we cleaned up the garden, we’d chase the little buggers toward the chickens, and that was the end of that.

:)

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Charlotte November 9, 2012 at 3:24 pm

See? Another reason I want chickens!!

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Cassie November 8, 2012 at 11:34 am

I read halfway through the second paragraph thinking it was one 200lb fish, seriously grossed out at it’s existence, that someone would use it in a wedding, and that your mother managed to get it home. I was so confused. Oopsie-skittles! :p

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Charlotte November 9, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Hahahah! That would be an awesome story too!

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Aurora November 8, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Just go to the Humane Society and adopt a cat. Do you have to tell the pound that you have kids? From what I can tell, pounds are looking to get rid of all the animals they can, to avoid euthanizing all of them. Also, I had cats as a toddler. You can also ask neighbors, etc. to go down the grapevine and look for “oh, my sister-in-law’s cat had kittens, do you want one” kind of situations.

If you can find a nice once-stray cat, it will probably know more about mousing than a pampered “we had to give it up because we moved to a pet-free apartment” cat. Then again, lots of once-strays have issues trusting humans, so it really depends on what cat you find and how much work you’re willing to put into getting it to like you.

Arguably, dogs might be better for toddlers than cats, because they’re rambunctious and can keep up, while cats really just want you to leave them the hell alone while they’re sleeping, or at least not manhandle them. Your kid could walk the dog, play fetch, etc. Dogs are good for people who need entertainment, like kids.

Also, your weird Adopt A Pet Faire lady was a jerk. Find someone more down to earth.

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Renee November 8, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Try petfinder.com. Pets from many different shelters and foster agencies. We got one of our cats as an older kitten through a foster home with children.

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Charlotte November 9, 2012 at 3:28 pm

I’ve been all over Petfinder the past few days – thank you for the rec! Love them!

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Nicole November 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm

I am a dog person. I LOVE dogs. I am not super fond of cats. But get a cat! Dogs have NO interest in mice. Cats are great at keeping them down. Go to an SPCA and get a cat- they don’t have all those weird rules, and you could be saving them from being put down. Or even look at local newspaper/Kijiji ads- there is probably someone out there who has a cat with an unwanted litter.

But you could get a dog too? Dogs are amazing animals. If you treat them right and train them properly they basically exist just to give and get love. period. Personally, I would try to find a mutt with a mix that didn’t shed. My family owns a Standard Poodle, and if I were to get another dog, I would be hard pressed to choose between doing the right thing and going to the SPCA and getting another standard poodle. Every single one I have met just has the sweetest temperament. They are great hikers and runners, and have lots of energy, but can also be very very calm. And my Mom used to teach small children piano, and our dog never once snapped, even with 3 or 4 five year olds giving it a hard time.

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Charlotte November 9, 2012 at 3:29 pm

I think the plan is to eventually get a dog as well at some point:)

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Kate November 8, 2012 at 1:35 pm

It is a sad day when a shelter turns away someone willing to adopt a cat because they have kids and want the cant to hunt mice. Has that woman every owned a cat? You can’t stop them from hunting mice! I should know, my cat hunted every small furry creature that lived in our backyard and my sisters hamsters when they got loose in the house! Try different shelters, ask questions, and I’m pretty sure if all else fails someone will be selling kittens on Craigslist

PS I now really want to stay at the Anniversary Inn. I don’t know if I could pick just one themed room!

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Geosomin November 8, 2012 at 2:19 pm

That’s bizarre. I live on the prairies, where if you have mice, getting a cat seems to make perfect sense. I can’t believe a shelter would turn away an adoptee…Check in the paper…there are always people with kittens to give away.They’re more aloof than dogs, except to those they choose as “theirs” (unless you get a particularly snuggly one) but most, if you get them young, will happily hunt mice. Having a cat around a young child could make for a cranky cat, but I think Jelly Bean is old enough to start to learn how not to “kiddy-maul” a pet. Come kids aren’t, and I know form volunteering at the SPCA many cats are returned because a family with young kids just can’t mesh with a new cat, but it doesn’t happen in every case. Keep looking. Cats are the best :)

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Geosomin November 8, 2012 at 2:22 pm

I second suggestions the try to get an older or stray cat – my cats who’ve been indoors their entire 14 years wouldn’t catch a mouse at all when one got in the house last year. They were actually just scared of them…it’s sort of pathetic :P

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Annie November 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Ugh! People like Ms. Meanie are the reason why I got out of cat rescue a long time ago. A cat would be great – the smell is enough to deter the pests even if you have the most incompetent hunter ever. You could try craigs list as folks have suggested or find abother rescue. Kill shelters tend to be a little less picky as well. Kittens are a pain in the neck, so I’d definitely be open to an older, cuddly cat.

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Kellyim November 8, 2012 at 4:39 pm

I have numerous pictures of our cat sleeping in my crib when I was a baby. I like dogs a lot, but I had cats growing up and married into a cat, so I have much more experience with them. My advice is to look for the most friendly cat you can. One who walks up to people and loves to be loved. Our current cat loves EVERYone. He got his leg pulled by a friend’s little girl a few years ago, so he’s been a little skittish of really small kids ever since, but even that is fading as time passes. He loves to be held and cuddled and loved and that sounds like the kind of cat you need. That may mean you need a kitten so it’s raised to respond well to that sort of attention. Though I know there are some very loving older cats out there, and they need homes!

To sum up, ignore that lady. Your cat might range from loving to chase mice to completely ignoring them (my cat growing up loved to chase bugs, but my current cat could care less), but at least that cat presence might help keep them away.

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Tami C. November 8, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Yes, get a cat. Maybe even two. Cats are animals, they are born to hunt, it is not cruel to want them to hunt mice. If you really want a good cat, don’t bother with a shelter. Track down a farmer or rancher, ask them if they have any barn cats or kittens they want to give away. I’d bet you would have all the felines you could ever want, and best of all they would be 100% F-R-E-E.

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Katie November 8, 2012 at 5:07 pm

We have a cat. We got her at a pet store – which I won’t do again (the pet store, not the cat), she was sick and had ringworm. BUT that’s all over. We have two small children at home and she’s great with them (even better than with us, actually. We did have mice and despite her hunting prowess (we actually woke up one morning to find a dead mouse at the foot of our bed and miss kitty purring like an airplane engine over it, she was so proud) the mice didn’t go away until we found out where they were coming in and stuffed insulation in the opening. But regardless, she’s a great guard kitty and loves our kids (she’s not crazy about boys though because a couple terrorized her when she was a kitten). All that to say, I would do it again, but I’d probably go for a kitten so they can grow up with the kids as they do get set in their ways. And as a bonus, they come house trained.

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Emily November 8, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Team dog– I’m a dog rescue person, so I love your plan of adopting a rescue dog. However, I do love cats too, and there is an abundance of homeless animals of both species. Pit bulls can be some of the most amazing, loving, intelligent family dogs out there– trust me!! They get a bad rap these days for no reason. It’s the owner, not the dog. Whatever choice you make will be a good one because your heart’s in the right place– rescue!

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Redhead November 8, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Try a different rescue group! The one I got my dog from had all volunteers foster the pets and get a feel for their tempermants-and which shouldn’t be around kids, shouldn’t be around other dogs or cats, etc. if you went to them and said you wanted a cat who liked kids (and maybe liked chasing mice), they’d be able to point you to which cats in their rescue fit the bill. (even if you go with a dog-and I am a bit partial to them myself-find a different resume group. They should be trying to match personalities, not getting so huffy. Plus cats might be different, but dog trainers recommend you give dogs with certain personality types “jobs.”)

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Kirsten November 8, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Oh man they should be giving you an award just for being interested in adopting adult cats! So many people just want to adopt a kitten.

I agree with all of the other commenters that you should look at other shelters and cragislist. If all else fails though, wait until kitten season (I believe it’s March/April-ish… probably depends on when you thaw out up there…) when the shelters are up to their eyeballs and completely overwhelmed with cats, cats, cats. I seriously doubt anyone will be stingy at that point, because many shelters really are forced to turn away/euthanize perfectly lovely cats at that time of year.

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Mary Kate November 8, 2012 at 7:33 pm

We adopted a rescue poodle and after 2 months with us it started biting other children. So so sad. I also didn’t want to deal with another puppy and thought the rescue groups would be best…but sometimes you don’t know the dog’s history. We adopted a toy poodle when we married and she was the BEST dog. Great around everyone. Not your typical small dog. When she was 13 years old we got a Bichon (wanting something a little bigger @15lbs ….he is 28!) and this year we adopted a Yorkie puppy from a friend. I would highly recommend either of those breeds.

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Marcie November 8, 2012 at 8:33 pm

I would try the Humane Society. They have older cats that don’t cost an arm and a leg. Plus, there is a pretty big center in Golden Valley that the kiddos might like to go to! It’s nice because they have rooms where you can take perspective kitties in with the kids to make sure they will get along! I adopted my Lucy from the humane society and the process went smoothly.

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Heather Eats Almond Butter November 8, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Happy (belated) Birthday Jelly Bean!!! :)

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christine November 8, 2012 at 10:34 pm

What a load of crap. I volunteer for a cat rescue group, they mostly fund TNR, but also pull “unadoptable” feral cats from shelters and adopt them out as “barn cats” cats that will live outside, with access to shelter and food, and kill rodents. They get a new shot at life, you get a mouser, and often they become pretty tame and enjoyable. Keep looking, they are out there. Try searching for BARN CATS, and see what comes up in your area.

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Lindsey November 9, 2012 at 2:25 am

We love our two rescue greyhounds. They’re low energy (really!), easy to house train (no accidents at all with our second), and great with kids (we have a 2-year-old and a 2-month-old). I highly recommend giving them a look =)

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Jess November 9, 2012 at 4:15 am

Crazy cat lady found a job at the shelter? We had cats and dogs when I was a kid. The cats were always a bit mean and kept away. And dogs were awesome. Cats will definitely hunt, although this can be a bad thing if you’ve got native wildlife and bird life. If it is just mice you want to get rid of then no biggie.

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Matt November 9, 2012 at 8:14 am

Shame on Mrs. Meanie. I grew up with a cat and I feel sorry for anyone who grows up without a pet.
I think the world would be a much better place if more folks grew up with animals. They can teach us love and compassion like no human relationship can.

I myself have 2 cats, one of which is meowing at my feet as I write this. I also volunteer at the local Humane Society so my vote is to get a cat. Or maybe a Ferret. That would be cool too.

Then again, I know some people who refer to their dogs as the perfect personal trainer. So from a fitness perspective a dog would be nice. So yea, I guess I’m not much help either (*sigh*).

in either case, place post pics of the new fur ball please :)

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Barefoot Rose November 9, 2012 at 8:47 am

Kittens aren’t like puppies,put them a couple of times in the litter box and you are all set to go. I would, however, make sure kitten or cat, that you get one who has been ‘handled’ a lot. That makes them more social able. The best cats I’ve had were held and loved by little kids. By the way, my current kitty/cat rid nearly the whole neighborhood of moles. I guess we didn’t have enough mice for her.

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Redheadedmama November 9, 2012 at 9:06 am

I think that’s great you are considering adopting an older pet — there are so many great older pets out there sitting around in pounds waiting for homes. I’m sure you can find another rescue organization or humane society willing to help your family find a good match.

I just wanted to add not to overlook dogs entirely (although it sound like you are leaning towards a cat) — terrier were bred to be vermin hunters and can be very effective at killing small rodents. My part-terrier rescue dog has caught two rabbits, a few mice, multiple frogs and has come very close to catching a number of squirrels (he’s too old now, but he puts in a good effort). Maybe not as effective as a cat, but worth considering if you were thinking of adding a dog to the family down the road :)

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Sylvie November 9, 2012 at 9:51 am

Instead of going to an adoption event, I would go to an animal shelter. Rescue groups can be pretty strict about the homes their pets go to. We had to do background checks, references and a home visit before we could adopt our pug (who has been an amazing addition to our family). Ask about the animals that are on “death row” to see if you can at least save one from being euthanized. Sometimes they have perfectly sweet animals that they’ve taken “off display” but still need a home!

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Nina November 9, 2012 at 10:24 am

While I agree that in general a home is better for a shelter pet then having to stay in the shelter. But I also think that having 5 young children isn’t always unproblemtic for a pet.
Yes, there are pets that are used to being around children (and I would try to get one that is) – and I am guessing your cat will be able to go outside (to catch the mice) – but children can also mean stress for animals that are not used to them. They try to grab them or don’t leave them alone when they are sleeping. Our two cats (who are very shy) are very scared of young children that run up to them for instanc and when we had visitors staying with 2 children (4 &7) they were hiding for a week).
So if you do get a cat keep that in mind and also make sure the cat has a place to escape to (somewhere high up maybe) that the children can’t get to so s/he can hide away.

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Babs November 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Oh, crazy cat ladies! We have 2 cats and a great big lab/rottweiler, all from shelters. Please don’t give up on shelters or listen to crazy rescue folks – they do so much more harm than good. Here in Portland, OR we are lucky enough to have GREAT shelters (talking to you, Family Life New Shelter and Oregon Humane Society) and they are packed to the gills with animals needing homes. I can’t imagine what capacity they would be at if they turned away everyone who had – God forbid! – a family. With kids. Imagine people like that wanting to take in animals! Our cats are wonderful. One of them waits at the end of our street for the school bus (we have no children) and plays with the kids when they return from school. He has his favorites. Our other cat is a big mouser/birder (I feel bad about the birds). Careful – they like to show off their “prizes” by leaving them at the front door. Oh, and our massive dog? We got him from a second chance shelter when he was four, after we’d had the cats for years. Everybody gets along. We are one big, animal-hair-covered family. Good luck!

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Emily Crow November 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I agree with everyone who suggested trying a local Humane Society for your pet. I have adopted three dogs from mine and found them to be very reasonable — no weird stipulations or home visits, affordable adoption fees. Certain individual animals had a no children policy, but that’s because the animal wasn’t good with kids or, in the case of very small dogs, too easily injured.

I like cats OK, but I am really much more of a dog person. My parents have had many cats, and some were fun and affectionate, some stand-offish. Some were great mousers, but their last one never killed a single mouse, even though they had mice invading the home. In fact, the cat would lay there sleeping as the mice scampered across the room, so there’s never a guarantee. So I would only get a cat if I really loved cats.

The right breed of dog might help keep mice away…many terriers were bred to be vermin hunters. Based on the dog breeds I am most familiar with, I would have to recommend the cocker spaniel — mine is such a wonderful, loving, laid back dog, great with kids, a friend to everyone, and although she couldn’t catch a mouse, I’m sure she’d chase it. (She loves to chase squirrels and rabbits.) But I say that as a dog person. To sum up, I’d say go with the animal that you like best, whether it kills mice or not.

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Di November 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Well as a person with two dogs, let me tell ya one has a SUPER HIGH prey drive and has killed numerous animals… so if you want to rent her out you can come get her tomorrow. Her bowl and leash are all packed :)
Seriously though, Go to your local SHELTER, not adoption faires or rescues. Those ones are already saved. The ones still in shelters are at risk. We rescued ours from the local city shelter in 2002 and our lives haven’t been the same since! Remember dogs need WALKING regardless how big your yard is, but they are WAY more loving than cats ;)

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Andrea Bozoki November 9, 2012 at 9:43 pm

I have only replied to your blog posts like twice in the year that I’ve been a subscriber (love reading your blog BTW) but this was SO timely, I had to respond. You see, I’ve just gone through your precise, exact experience. All of it, from deciding that the the time was finally ripe to adopt a pet (my youngest is 7, not 3, but same diff), thinking long and hard about what kind of pet, deciding on a dog, deciding to get it from a shelter, scouring the Petfinder listings for a MONTH trying to select that perfect combination of relatively young (but not puppy), relatively small, relatively cute and cuddly and -ideally- non-shedding, and then driving 45 minutes away with all 3 kids (plus hubby) in tow to the shelter to meet him, only to be told that WE WERE NOT AN ACCEPTABLE ADOPTIVE FAMILY, because our youngest was only 7 and the dog we picked had shown signs of “resource guarding.”

The woman at the shelter seemed to take a perverse pleasure in explaining that she was not allowing us to adopt him for our own good, since he might conceivably bite our son if he took away, e.g., a favored chew toy. She said this to me as said 7 year old cheerfully played tug-of-war with the Potential Killer and a rope toy that they each had one end of and were pulling back and forth between them, the dog wagging its tail madly and rolling over on its back every 30 seconds to get his belly scratched for good measure.

Charlotte, I was infuriated; so mad I could barely utter civil words (thank G-d for DH who maintained his composure better than the rest of us put together). She actually refused to watch the play between my kids and the dog so she could maintain her conviction that the results of his Temperament Test were Truth, not a mistake born of an overhasty exam done on a frightened, traumatized stray animal before it had time to acclimate. The 11 year old left with tears in his eyes and so did I. I’ll certainly never go back to that shelter, but your story (and that of others who have commiserated with me since it happened on October 29) shows me that this is apparently not an unusual occurrence. I can’t help but wonder how many animals are being denied perfectly adequate homes, dooming them to shelter-borne diseases and months (years?) of life in a small kennel where they can become progressively more neurotic and de-socialized while shelter staff seek to find them that ideal placement that never comes.

The sort-of-happy ending to my story is that the next week, I found a woman on Craig’s List who was looking to give away a 4 1/2 year old cockapoo stud who had become sterile from a viral infection. Since she is a breeder, she didn’t want him as just a pet, so we lucked out. I just brought him home yesterday and he’s starting to acclimate to our household. SHE didn’t seem concerned that our youngest was 7. She noted that “he is good with kids as long as they don’t get in his face when he’s eating.” I assured her that I too wasn’t much good with anyone who got in my face when I was eating, and that my kids knew better. There has been great rejoicing in our house since the new dog arrived, and I’m hoping he will bond with our family in short order. Anyway, I’m sure the above novella was a bit TMI, but your post really struck a chord since it was sooo emotionally distressing to me to be turned away from an adoption we had all anticipated as being “the perfect dog.”

As for what YOU should do, my 2c is that a dog and a cat are so very different both in terms of the interaction they offer (dogs give way more) and the care they require (cats need much less), that you might as well get one of each. And when you adopt them at the same time there is much less chance that they will fight, since neither will feel encroached on their home turf. You can feed and water them together at the same time(s) every day, and other than cleaning the cat’s litter box (if it’s going to be an indoor-only cat), there’s pretty much nothing else you need to do with the cat. And if you get a cat-flap for your kitchen door, you don’t even need to deal with a litter box. Just sayin’

Good luck Charlotte. I have no doubt you’ll do the right thing for your family.
Andrea

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Cathy November 10, 2012 at 10:01 pm

We have five children ages 12, 8, 6, 4, and 2 and have 2 dogs, 5 cats, a rabbit, 10 chickens, and a Djungarian hamster. Cats and kids can absolutely get along, though you will want to find either an extremely patient cat or a younger cat who can grow up used to children. Our indoors only cat (some are indoor/outdoor) is the best mouser of all despite her frequent visits to the food bowl (she is 16.5 lbs plus loads of fluff).

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Gretchen @gfedge November 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm

I’ve never had a problem obtaining a cat. Sooner or later one would show up on my doorstep, look up, and say ‘Mawm?’ So I’d feed it and in a few days it was part of the family. We once had four at a time. We had to find another home for the last one after a hallway catfight that I tried to break up with a bare foot. My foot was bitten, scratched, and peed on all in a moment. My kitties have all succumbed to old age so currently I am without a cat.

There are too many lovely kitties that desperately need a home – the neediest are the most grateful. Check the want ads, bulletin boards, etc.

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Alina November 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Hi Charlotte,

I don’t know if you’ve figured anything out yet, but I got a job where I have to travel 4 days a week and need to find good loving homes for my two adult cats (they don’t have to live together). They each like anyone who will give them attention and enjoy chasing mice as far as I can tell. I live in Chicago but, ridiculously guilt-ridden as I am, would actually fly either cat within North America for a good home. Please email me if you are interested and want descriptions of their personality / to meet them on skype / etc.

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Alina November 18, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Oh PS That was Alina formerly of Duty Free Foodie.

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