Having a pet in the US

I wrote this (edited by Mimi, my daughter) to join the pet discussion.

Let me tell you the story of my cat Smokey:

My neighbor once asked me if we wanted a cat for free. I had cats and dogs back in VN but I knew that it would be much more complicated over here. At the relentless requests of my daughter, I gave up and said yes (partly because the cat was so beautiful: white with grey spots, long furry tail…). My daughter (Mimi) named her Cleo (after Cleopatra!). At first, we kept her in the house but then we realized that this cat was not house-broken so we put her in the garage. It started to smell REALLY bad in the garage, so she had to stay outside in our backyard (You may want to know that houses in the US are well insulated, so you can easily notice pet smells immediately when you visit a house with pets).

A few weeks later, we noticed that she was growing fat. We were so happy, thinking that she was simply eating a lot and was healthy. But NOOOOO! She had gotten pregnant by some unknown “bastard” running around out there (I believe it was a black cat). Well, she gave birth 4 kittens: two black (Bebe and Luna), one with black and white spots (Oreo), and one grey – our Smokey. Cleo needed to be spayed immediately. I had to borrow a cage to carry her in my car and drove 40miles (~60km) to a pet clinic for that purpose. The cost: $30 for visit, $80 for the surgery (or so they said). Cleo had to stay overnight for observation. For your information, male cats were much simpler: $15 for fixing (or neutering) them and you could take them home right away. What luck, right?

We then had five cats. Unfortunately, 2 months later, Cleo disappeared! Maybe she wandered too far? Got run over by cars? I did not know! Well, we were so sad, but we still had 4 kittens. Watching them playing in the backyard was a real joy. We had great times. However, the two black kittens were female. I learned my lesson: They had to go! But it’s not that simple! People just don’t want to have cats with ovaries, do they? I don’t blame them. Well, the black kittens went to a shelter where they could get adopted. The cost: $50 for each of them to be there. That’s $210 so far, right? 😦

Oreo was a beautiful male and he was smart. But one day, he also disappeared! Well, we were left with Smokey, the slowest one (mentally and physically). He needed to be neutered too but I decided to leave him alone (to get revenge, I suppose). 🙂

Smokey is not smart at all! Believe me, I’ve never seen such a “stupid” cat (sorry Smokey!). The only thing he could do well is sleep! We make toys for him. He never plays! Smokey just lays down there and gives us a look that says, “You guys are childish… I am not gonna join your silly games!”. He always looks like an absent-minded and calm philosopher, who has been occupied with deep thoughts. But I doubt that Smokey can come up with any surprising theories. Maybe I am wrong! A theory of how to catch airborne birds, perhaps?

At least 15 times, he has gotten stuck on my roof and did not know how to get down (even though all he had to do was go back down the same freakin’ tree). All he does is meow pathetically until someone decides to help him down! It was not easy to get on the roof (as we did often in VN) and you might want to call the police or fire department to help. They would come, surely, but you would have to pay $100 per visit! Well, I just lured him to a window upstairs and grabbed him. Once or twice, I wanted to teach him a lesson by throwing him down from the room (he IS a cat, right? He still has another 8 or so lives left) or leaving him up there (for at least 4 days) to scare him. The next day, after I got him down, he was meowing on the roof again!

He is such a gentleman, though! If another cat comes by during his lunch or dinner, he would stop, step aside and invite the guest (especially females) to eat his food. After they leave, he’d continue. If he wants to go inside the house, he would wait until I am done with my cigarette and then join me to go in. I believe his gentleness (or his stupidity?) really works for his love affair. He has a beautiful girlfriend and three “kids” (2 black and one striped)! I had to call the CPC (City Pet Control) to take care of them! (It’s ironic how Smokey can have a girlfriend, yet when my daughter starts dating a guy, my wife and I go crazy! Well, not really 🙂 )

A few years ago, he got into a fight with a possum in our backyard one night. His tail was bleeding badly and we had to take him to the vet. The cost: $60 for an emergency visit (I did not call ahead to make an appointment), $30 for his vaccination, and $30 for his medicine to take care of his tail. OK, when I asked the vet what we should do with his tail, since it was not moving any more, they said “it’s gotta go!”, so they came up with a surgery (!!!) plan and told me that he would have to stay in their hospital for two days. I looked at the bill for that simple “chopping” job (so I thought) and could not believe my eyes: ~$400! I made a quick calculation, summing up the expenses and told Mimi: “I am not going to spend 700 bucks for a tailless cat! That’s crazy!” So we went home. Luckily, with the medicine, he was OK. However, his tail has been motionless since then.



Well, we now have a cat that cannot wiggle his tail. Our Smokey is worth at least $300. He may be stupid, but he’s gentle and “philosophically complicated”. We love him! 🙂

Just let you know so that you will think twice to have a pet in America!


12 Responses

  1. *ahem*

    “i WROTE this…”



  2. Welcome aboard! 🙂

  3. hehehehehehe 😀

  4. Welcome Uyen, I REALLY like your writing 😉
    When I knew that I will be studying in the US, I once planed to bring my dog Minu with me. He was with me for 10 years then, and I just can’t think of us being apart. But then I saw 2 difficulties:

    1. Bring him to the US is difficult. He is small but but probably not enough to stay in the airplane but in the luggage region. And the “sleeping” shot and long time trip may hurt him mentally 😦

    2. My friend told me I would have to deal with a lot of paperworks.

    3. I won’t stay home with him much, he will be bored. And I rent an appartment, and I don’t know the place, …

    and now, from your essay, I know I can’t afford his medical bills if he has any problem 🙂

    He is now happy at home anyway, as everyone in my house is taking care of him “in my behalf” 😀

  5. Thank you very much! 😀

    Right, the medical expenses make many people think twice before they decide to get pets.

    As for Smokey, well, if we ever decide to move and give him “sleeping shots”, it wouldn’t make a difference seeing as how he’s always sleeping to begin with. Plus, he’s already mentally challenged! (Sorry Smo!)

    He’s tough…I think he can handle any obstacle 😀 However, that doesn’t stop me from worrying about him!

    What kind of paperwork would you need to fill out? I wasn’t even aware that those even existed (that shows you how much I know…) 😛

  6. I don’t know, I just heard my friend saying that. Probably things are different between dogs and cats. She has a dog and it seems like she had to register him, he has to have a name tag and a medical book (dunno how to say it in English 😀 )… stuff like that.

    Also, I’ve just learned that if we drive and hit a cat we don’t have to report it. But if we hit a dog then we have to report it to the police, otherwise we would be announced guilty for “hit-and-run” and something like “leaving the scene of an accident”… can’t remember 😀

  7. Oh really? Hmm…I think more people like dogs than cats…some say that cats are evil (I don’t really know about that)!

  8. Yeah! That was at least New York law for driver, I don’t know how about other states.

    About cats and dogs, in Vietnam there are rumors that if a dog wander into our house we will be lucky but if a cat does it we will be unlucky. I don’t know where it comes from. Personally I like both of them 🙂 I don’t know how they think about them in the U.S.

    But there is a fact we have to admit, dogs tend to behave better than cats when they turn old.

    I once had a cat. She lived with us for about 7 years or so (can’t remember). She was very cute and lovely when she was a kitten and when she was young. She gave birth to like… 10 sets of kittens or more (dunno how to say it 😀 would you help me to fix it pls 😉 ). But then when she grew old, her behavior became more and more unexpected and unfriendly. One day I came back home without seeing her, and learned from my dad that he had thrown her far away in a pagoda (I don’t know if he was saying the truth or not). I cried a lot but it didn’t help.

    About dog, my dear Minu is around 12 now and he is always as lovely as he was before. My whole family loves him, even my dad – whom Minu likes the least (probably because my dad once kicked him to the wall when he was young, my dad was trying to stop him from chasing a guest tho )

  9. Hahaha! Wow…those stories are hilarious!

    Well it’s true about how cats can become less friendly when they’re older :/

    [i think it’s better to just say that she gave birth to 10 kittens :D]

    Well Smokey was never really friendly, nor was he unfriendly…he’s just lazy =P

    I guess I tend to sway toward dogs because they’re more energetic and friendly. I asked my mom for a dog as a graduation present, but then I realized that I probably won’t be able to keep it with me during college (heh).

  10. Actually she gave birth around 10 times, each time she had about 3 or 4 kittens, so the total was around… 30 to 40 kittens… hix 😦 We were busy finding families for them back then 😀

    By the way, if this do not scare you, I always had to protect the new born kittens from male cats around. I don’t know why some of them ate new born kittens *scary* My heart was totally broken to see that sight 😦 (probably they thought those kitten were mice? dunno)

    I see some undergrad students here have dogs at home. They walk their dog down the street every weekend. But I admit it is difficult to keep a dog during college. You will have to find a house where the landlord accept us having pets (many landlords don’t) and your time will be a little bit limited.

  11. Yeah, I love dogs too. I always dream of having a fast, smart dog like a police dog. My family used to have a (how to say ?) cunning cat. very smart and very aggressive too. I loved to see the way she fought a huge “sewage” mouse. Her face 5 minutes after that still looked appalling. Never afraid of any dog, always ready to protect her own territory. But, still, dogs are closer to humans, always show us their affection while cats only show us tricks to get food and are usually much noisier.

  12. Yeah, I have a cat, a female cat. She eats a lot so I have to buy fish for her everyday. She is the cat that eats so much I have ever seen. But she is so beautiful, her hair has 5 colors and I see that she is taller than usual one – good one to become cat model .

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