Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Pets for Singles, Part I

No matter how full your days as a single, if you live alone, there are still nights when the sound of your iPod isn't enough to fill the silence.

When singles get lonely, some of them rush out and return with the first member of the opposite sex who doesn't smell like something stuck to a bathroom stall.

doesn't endorse this option. Instead, Singletude recommends making a lifelong commitment to someone you will feed, pay medical bills for, and give up your bed to, who will never ask you why you two don't talk anymore.

A pet.

(No, that is not what spouses are for! Jeez!)

I mean an animal that can be classified in the canine or feline families! Or, if you're more adventurous, a psittacid, leporid, or cyprinid. Animal companions can provide you with affection, entertainment, protection, and even health benefits. That's right--owning a pet can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol level, decrease your risk of depression, and increase your overall health.

Today and tomorrow, Singletude presents reviews of common household pets with the needs of singles in mind.

1. Dogs

No list of pets would be complete without "man's best friend." One of the first domesticated species, dogs have been our allies for centuries. As pack animals, they're especially suited to the hierarchical, cooperative nature of human society. While their temperaments vary greatly by breed, most dogs are affectionate, protective, loyal, and playful. The soft, plushy coats don't hurt, either, especially when you need a hug after a disappointing day.

Singles who struggle with loneliness will appreciate a devoted dog who trots eagerly alongside from room to room and snuggles close at night. Those who feel vulnerable living alone will also find peace of mind with a furry bodyguard at their feet. And, as an added benefit for the busy single, a puppy who wants to play fetch or tug-of-war will give you an undeniable excuse to exercise.

Dogs are relatively low-maintenance. They require two or three meals a day and about as many walks, so working singles won't find it difficult to fit Lassie or Fido into their work schedules. Alternatively, when you're out, you can keep your dog on a run, in a fenced-in yard, or, if he's small enough, in a cage of appropriate dimensions. However, walking a dog may open opportunities to connect with other dog lovers, so singles who are lonely or isolated may want to block in time to take a stroll through the park.

Since two dog breeds can be almost as different from each other as two separate species, make sure you do your research before you pick your pet. Some dogs need more space, attention, or training than many singles can provide. If your dog is miserable, she'll really let you know about it through incessant barking, chewed furniture, or offensively scented "gifts" in inappropriate places. Do what's best for both of you and get a dog that's compatible with your lifestyle. When you find the right match, you'll have found a friend for life.

2. Cats

Cats have a reputation for antisocial behavior, but cat lovers know this is just independence. (Many of us singles can certainly relate!) Ranging from about 5 to 20 lbs., cats are smaller than most dogs and are less demanding, which may be why they've now surpassed dogs as the most popular pet in the nation.

Though they still need to be fed at least twice a day, supervised walks are unnecessary. Primarily outdoor and indoor/outdoor cats can take care of business by themselves, thank you, although it's best to give them an enclosed area unless your neighborhood has little or no traffic and no threat of wild predators. However, many owners opt to keep their pets indoors full-time, with a litter box that is cleaned once or twice a week. Special "clumping" litter and sifting bags have made this arrangement easier than ever. Since cats aren't that active in adulthood and adapt well to small spaces, they don't need time outside to stretch their legs...and the local bird population will thank you.

Cats are unique in that they share many of the advantages of a dog--intelligence, playfulness, good communicative ability, and cuddly, huggable bodies--but not the dependency that can make it hard for singles to go on vacation or even stay out late with a dog at home. Cats can spend hours, even days alone without incident and are well known for conserving their food.

Plus, if you're squeamish about small critters, a cat on patrol can discourage rodents and eliminate quite a few leggy, hairy things better seen in horror flicks than on your bedroom floor.

Singles should be aware, though, that cats can be destructive due to their profuse shedding, frequent vomiting of hairballs, and long, sharp claws, which need regular trimming or rubber nail sheaths if the cat won't reserve them for the scratching post. Cats also delight in mischief, and it's difficult, if not impossible, to discipline them since they have much less motivation than dogs to submit to the will of a superior. Furthermore, some breeds are more sociable than others and can be almost as jealous of your attention as dogs, so choose with care.

However, if you welcome a cat into your home, you will be rewarded with hilarious antics that will occupy you for hours and a warm, purring friend to keep you company on long, cold nights.

Dogs and cats are so common that most people have had some experience with them, and they're often the first animals that come to mind when a single individual is considering a pet. Unfortunately, many people overlook animals that fly under the radar, and that's a shame because such animals can be better suited to the needs and concerns of singles. Tomorrow, we'll feature some of these less traditional pets.

Fun Link of the Day


Anonymous said...

I would like to enjoy the companionship of a well-mannered Chupacabra -- would you care to elaborate on their upkeep tomorrow?

Blister H.

Clever Elsie said...

Sure. You don't even have to wait till the next post. Here ya go:

Mythological creatures kept as pets are always very demanding since, first and foremost, you need to make sure no one knows you have one lest the FBI decide to confiscate it.

Chupacabras are native to the island of Puerto Rico, where they burrow in underground caverns during the day and hunt aboveground at night. Therefore, you will need to provide your chupa with a cool, dark, dry place while the sun is shining. A basement or crawl space will usually do.

A chupa's main source of food is blood plasma, preferably fresh, from livestock or, in a pinch, canines. This is what poses the main problem to their domestication. Unless you live on a working farm, you will be hard-pressed to keep your little black devil's appetite satiated since you will need to provide the equivalent of two to five cows or three to eight goats a day, depending on the size of the chupa. Free-range hunting is a no-no if you live in a well-populated area.

Chupacabras are not for the inexperienced pet owner. They can grow to excess of five feet and can fly in small bursts, so they need a firm hand to keep them in line. They are also not for multi-pet households, as they will not be able to distinguish between chickens and your other pets. Chupas seldom attack people as they are shy by nature, but should yours become aggressive, you will need to take measures to put it in its place. This is why I recommend that you buy a homebred chupacabra rather than one that is wild caught.

Some people may find the chupacabra's characteristic sulfury odor offensive and its eyes, which are a beautiful, rich ruby red, disconcerting. You will also need to take special care of its four- to five-inch fangs, as they are the means of its livelihood, and ensure that it receives regular dental attention. A vet specializing in exotics is the best choice for this.

Hope that helps.

bobbyboy said...

I am an animal lover and agree that pets not only can be a great asset to singles, but are in so many ways! I'll even venture a bit and say that pets are great for families and couples.

"a puppy who wants to play fetch or tug-of-war will give you an undeniable excuse to exercise."

hahaha this point was well taken!

Some years ago, I had two cats (from kitten hood). One of them grew to be that independent cat we are very familiar with. The other was quite different in deminure. I would sit in a reclining chair watching TV and she would jump up on my lap to join me. She would look at me for a while and then, to my amazement, would bring both of her paws around my neck and "Hug" me!!

You could also have a conversation with her. If you spoke to her, she would speak right back to you. Of course I don't speak cat and didn't know what she was saying, but maybe she understood me? But just the idea of it was fantastic and heart filling!

Great post Elsie, I couldn't agree more!

Clever Elsie said...

Your relationship with your more affectionate cat was really neat!

I currently have a cat who demands to be picked up and hugged by climbing to a high location like a bookshelf and putting his paws up on shoulders. It's so cute! Behavior like that really makes you rethink the cool and aloof cat stereotype. I've always maintained that cats can be as affectionate as dogs. They just have a different way of showing it. :)

Lucy McBees said...

I enjoyed your article, because I am single and I have the pets. But everyone dream about partner. Right?