The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Column: Pampered pets a curse to all

Pets as children. We’ve all seen it. Bulging-eyed Chihuahuas shoved down Juicy Couture totes, Miniature Pinchers snarled in designer, chrome-studded collars, and Yorkshire Terriers with sweaters, bows, clips and bedazzle. The frosted, peanut-liver-cookie-breathed monsters that have their owners on a leash, claiming, “That’s my bitch.”

You grimace, I grimace. How and why?

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I didn’t know the answer, to such a sight, until I bought Harlow.

See, I didn’t know that I was one of them until I dropped a grand cash of hard earned tips on a hairless kitty. Who knew that a purse dog hater could morph into a cat Santa-hat-buying-bimbo?

Where do we draw the line between a good home and an incessant, obsessive and ridiculous pet owner?

It all began two years ago, when I realized how much I missed having an animal. No, I didn’t miss Sugar, my family’s obese, beef stew-eating Pomeranian. The wanna-be lap dog that had such power over my Mom to make her say, when opening a heart locket, “I can put two pictures of Shug in it”, as my Sister and I rolled our pupils to our brains. But, I missed the others, the simple companions of mine: Friskey, Stubbie and Doobie, our street cats.

Being in college, I knew that a large breed of dog was out of the question. Too dependent, too much work, too much money… So, I placed my options on buying a cat. An exotic cat. A hairless cat. A Sphynx.

It started innocently. The trip to Petco for all of the things your new furry friend will need: kibble, litter, pooper scooper…but then you find yourself questioning, “Does he—err—I need the metal, nice $10 scooper or the plastic $2 one? Hmm…” And it goes downhill from there.

Will he need the foot-tall cat scratcher post or the two hundred dollar, six foot, carpeted palace? Okay, toys: what about the cheese-wedge-shaped remote control-operated mouse that’s $16.95 or the $0.99 fluff ball? You can imagine which I chose.


My point is I never wanted to become one of them. I never wanted to purchase grain-free cat food that was two dollars a can. I never planned I would consider putting my cat on a raw-meat diet. I didn’t see the leash and harness I purchased as a wavering sign that owning a hairless cat and taking him on a walk to the park was weird and over-the-top.

When did making a faux fur vest for my cat’s Halloween costume become a good idea? Why were LA dog party planners able to jumpstart such a company and when did cat couture and stores like “Digiddy Dog” come as often visible on corners as our franchised and go-to Starbucks?

I know and can see that it’s ridiculous to observers, but I suppose the answer lies in the idea that animals are like family. They’re loyal companions and get cold and need sweaters too.

Perhaps the key is putting your money towards a pet that wouldn’t require as much work. A goldfish? Those just stay in a bowl, at home. But then, if you get a fish, you’re going to need a bowl and that bowl might need pretty jewels at the bottom. And that fish might need a fake plant or castle as his little hiding place…

I believe that it starts with the first pet you own alone. So, beware. If you can make it past this without the jazz and crap, power to you. But I know, when I’m walking past the Miniature Maltese that’s stuffed down a Louis Vuitton carrier and I’ve got my cat on leash, I can’t help but to smile and look away. For looking into the owner’s eyes would reveal that mutual understanding that we are insane—of the same breed— we love our animals, and yes, I became what I used to hate.


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