Posted to the blog of Kathleen David; I thought it made sense to copy it here too.
My family has been host to quite a menagerie over the years. We have had four cats, 7 birds (let's see, two love birds, two parrotlets, a mitered conure, a cockatiel, and a stupid gray bird like you find at the local department store), a rat, and a hamster of some sort. Oh, and several fish of varying sorts. Yes, I'm sure others have us beat all hollow, but we had three of the cats, six of the birds, and one rodent simultaneously.
We're currently down to two cats. Rodents dying too quickly, and grow large ugly tumors in the process, so I'm discouraging their addition to our home now. Two of the birds have died, the other five were dispersed shortly after my wife's death a few years back; they were her interest, and my son and I simply could not adequately care for them. One of the cats died when my son was a newborn (he's fifteen now); the other, last fall.
I feel a great deal of guilt over sending the birds out with various people. C.J. (one of the lovebirds) and Max (one of the parrotlets) came into our family at almost the same time, were hand fed together, and bonded. They became very upset if their cages were not together, and seemed to mostly enjoy each other's company. C.J. got broody (I think that's the right word), and laid several batches of eggs. Max decided he would be a helpful "papa" and would occasionally try to keep one warm (parrotlets are smaller than lovebirds, and he couldn't quite straddle the eggs); the fact that C.J. seemed entirely OK with that was mildly remarkable. C.J. went back to a breeder, and is hopefully getting to lay eggs that will hatch. Max lives with my sister-in-law, and doesn't seem to be himself without C.J.
Then there was the cockatiel, who developed a nasty personality after my son decided to get him out of his cage with a towel shortly after he came to our house; he seems to have bonded nicely with my sister-in-law's roommate, and appears to be much happier than he was here. Ben, my son's bird, the mitered conure who believed he was at least half puppy; we found a nice family to adopt him. And Brady, the other lovebird, who we got because he had a gimpy leg. He was, in spite of my best intentions, my bird. He seemed to like me a lot, and when loose, would land on me and insist on beak rubs. He'd get rather indignant if he wanted my attention and I was playing with my Game-Boy - unless, of course, I held it out so he could peck at the buttons. A few times, he flew up onto our entertainment center, sat on the rim of a cup full of nickels, and started grabbing the nickels and tossing the on the floor. I would have loved to keep him, but couldn't bear the thought of clipping his wings; he hopped along all right on foot, but he had no problems getting around when he could fly. Since I saw no way to keep the house remotely clean without clipping his wings, he went off with the breeder too (and may be happy there - he tended to pleasure himself on a big ravel-ended rope perch in his cage).
So, we're down to four of us for now, and probably only three before too long. One of our cats, Aslan, is ten, and is very much my teenage son's cat. Oh, he likes me OK, but Bryan is "his boy."
And Snarf is my cat. He and his brother Fritz were adopted by two college roommates of mine who liked the idea of having a pet better than they liked the idea of caring for one. So, another roommate took it upon himself to care for them, but didn't really know what to do - which is where I came in. Several months later, when I got married and moved out, my roomie decided not to break up the set, and Snarf and Fritz came to live with my wife and I. She always remembered her first night in our apartment, just her and the cats - she woke up with one on her chest and one on her legs. Fritz was the one who died shortly after my son was born - he had been the runt of the litter, and ran into liver problems.
Snarf is my buddy. Almost every night, when I go to bed, he comes up to get petted, and lies down between my body and my left arm. He's gone shortly after I fall asleep, but it's been a comfort, especially since my wife's death.
Snarf, however, is also eighteen years old, and has been mostly skin and bones for a few years now. I know he won't be here much longer.
I still feel guilty about getting rid of my wife's birds. I know they're better off, I know I couldn't have cared for them well, but they were so special to her, I feel like I betrayed her. And as much as I want to be, I'm not ready to lose my kitty. He's like a special link to my past, almost like a last special connection to my wife.
I have no idea why I'm dumping all of this here.
But thanks for letting me.