I’d like to get a “companion animal.” That’s what pets are called here in my building. I’m not quite sure on the procedure here, but I have to either have my psych doc write a note, or get a form for the same doc to fill out so I may have a pet.

My pet of choice is a cat.

I haven’t actually gotten one yet for a couple of reasons. One is that my mother owns an elderly dog. If something happens to her, I may need to take him in, either temporarily or permanently, and my building permits only one pet per household. I could not consign my mother’s dog to a shelter for his last days.

The other reason?

I want to be able to afford my pet’s care if at all possible. Taking Mom’s dog in would be on an emergency basis, but any cat I get would be a pet I’ve spent (quite a bit of) time considering getting. Right now, my finances could not endure the burden of a pet’s care; I have too many bills going out and I struggle to save money even without bills. If I’ve spent any amount of time considering adopting a pet, I simply want to ensure I can afford the animal.

To me, “responsible pet ownership” goes beyond getting my pet fixed. I’ve seen, in the government subsidized housing I’ve lived in the past ten or so years, a lot of irresponsible pet ownership. People adopt animals, dogs and cats, when they can’t really afford the care. They do it not thinking of the possibility they may have to pay high medical bills if the animal gets sick. Or, if the pet has a chronic illness or disease which medication can help, how much that medication will cost over the long term. My Mom has only occasionally taken her dog in to a vet, and then only when his health concerns exceeded her capacity to deal with them on her own.

This is not responsible pet ownership.

I’ve come to accept that getting a cat may be years in my future—or possibly never at all. I have too much stuff to straighten up in my life right now to welcome a dependent creature of any kind, no matter how much I’d like one. If I can’t take care of myself—and I mean in every way I need to, not just feeding, clothing, and sheltering myself—right now, I do not need to be bringing an anmial into my home unless, as I said, I must take in my Mom’s dog because something’s happened to her.

So, no kitty for me—yet.