Sacrificing for Cats

We give up some things when we get cats, but what we get in return is way, way more.

By Janiss Garza | Posted: April 14, 2014, 5 p.m. EDT

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Sacrificing for Cats
Sparkle only sees cat-friendly flowers.
Sacrificing for Cats
Furniture selection changes when you account for cats.
Sacrificing for Cats
Small sacrifices often shrink in comparison to the benefit of being with cats.
I love flowers. Especially lilies. Whenever I see a tiger lily or a stargazer lily, I have to stop and admire it. But I won't even touch one, and they never see the inside of my house, ever. Why? Because they are deadly toxic to cats. Even a bit of lily pollen, dropped on a cat's fur and licked off, can fatally damage a cat's kidneys.

Get more facts about lilies and other cat toxins >>


When we bring cats – or any pet – into our family, we have to compromise and make sacrifices. Every Easter, I'm surrounded by gorgeous lilies, but I can't have any. At Christmas, the mistletoe is fake because the real thing harms cats who eat it. My fiancé will bring home a cat-safe spring bouquet, and roses on Valentine's Day and sometimes my birthday, but we have to be careful. All three of our cats, and Sparkle especially, are plant- and flower-chewers. I keep roses on my desk at my own risk – Binga has been known to knock over a vase or two!

Find out how to set up a cat-friendly home >>

Flower and plant choices are just scratching the surface of the small sacrifices we cat companions have to make. My cats are indoor-only, which means we will never casually leave a door open, and all windows will always have secure screens. Only pet-safe cleaning solvents are used inside the house.

See more stories from a cat's point of view >>

Then there are the bigger sacrifices. I choose the fabric of my furniture carefully to discourage scratching (microfiber – yes, nubby fabric – no ... I learned that the hard way). Boodie claws rugs, so I have to shop around to find one that's nice looking but fairly cheap, since I know it's eventually going to be wrecked. Let's not even talk about the carpet that needs replacing as a result of the stains left by the cats and dog. Sparkle is OK when I'm away for a few days, but no more than that. My wished-for 2-to-3 week trips to France or Tibet will have to wait – for years (she is 12 and healthy). And I'll never forget the beautiful apartment I couldn't rent many, many years ago because they didn't allow pets and I had a cat.

Meet Sparkle the Designer Cat >>

Looking over all this, I can see these choices really add up. I'm not sure what I would think if I were a non-pet owner. Do they take open doors and windows for granted? Would it annoy them to stop bringing home their favorite flowers, or real mistletoe at Christmas? Do they think I am crazy to hold off on a dream trip because of a cat? A life is made richer – or poorer – by the choices a person makes. Yes, I've given up a lot of things, big and small, because I have cats. And honestly, I do have my what-if moments sometimes. But I've gotten more back from having cats in my life than I've given up. Way, way more.
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Reader Comments

Sabrina    Longview, WA

4/17/2014 7:02:31 PM

Love this article. My cat is very sensitive and needy, and I wouldn't have her any other way. I have to sit with her when she eats or she eats too fast and gets sick, be home on time every day to feed her, and we've only spent a couple of nights apart in 10 years. I've taken her with me when staying away from home as I don't want to be apart from her. These aren't sacrifices to me, it means she loves me as much as I love her. I guess we're both sensitive and needy.

People need to remember that not all cats are the same, nor are all owners. Some cats are more temptation-prone than others and are just never going to be "trained" to not scratch fabric or eat flowers. Some owners are more tolerant than others. I couldn't care less if my pets climb on things, scratch furniture, etc. They're my family and I want them to be comfortable and happy. My view is, if appearances and belongings matter more to you than your pets, then you shouldn't have pets.

Juanita    Lynn, MA

4/17/2014 6:42:15 PM

Love cats .. as of now we have 3 and love them as family .. 2 are from a shelter .. 1 was a stray that we took in 1 1/2 yrs ago .. he was really in bad shape .. needed surgery on ear & abcess on head .. Vet figures he was no more than 1 - 2 yrs old by looking at his teeth .. Hubby & I do quite a bit of rearranging for the cats .. yes .. furniture is not in good shape .. cats are spoiled but they give us a lot of love & we them .. Have had several cats over the years & miss each one of them .. that is the only draw back of having them .. letting go when it's their time .. try not thinking about this for now as our "babies" are doing well .. and would not give them up for anything or anyone .. love em all ..

Barbara    Evington, VA

4/16/2014 9:32:36 PM

I know there are some things we have to be careful when owning cats. I have 4 but don't think I'm sacrificing anything by having them, I simply adjust and go with the way it has to be. The love they give outweighs any "sacrifices" I may have to choose. And yes they are like toddlers.

Audrey    Grants Pass, OR

4/16/2014 12:58:20 PM

You do not have to give up traveling because of your cat(s). We have gone all over the world, covered most of the western US, and gone on 3 cruises. When we have to fly or on cruises, we hire a dependable cat sitter. We have used her for 6 years and never a problem. When we were traveling in our RV, the cats came with us. We have 4 and they have traveled over 10,000 miles. Cats are remarkable about how they accommodate to whatever situation they are in. They are senior and geriatric and they have traveled most of their lives.

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