Did you know that under the law pets are seen as replaceable property? That’s right, the law essentially treats losing a pet the same way as losing a table. In honor of Chloe the Mini Frenchie, Loni Edwards’ beloved dog who passed away due to medical error, PetInsider will be featuring a story every Wednesday about pets being family, not property. Please join us by reading the stories and signing the pledge we created with the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) to push for change.
JT Catsby entered my life when I was eighteen years old and fresh out of high school. We both had a lot of growing up to do. He was born in a hoarding situation. I knew from the start that he was special. On the long car ride home in a vehicle full of animal carriers with other rescue cats on their way to their forever families, I held JT in my lap. He cried, puked, and pooped on the blankets and towels I had with me. I loved him instantly, unconditionally. I remember wondering if this was what parenting was like. I gave JT a big name – Just Terrific Catsby – because I wanted to give him the best, rags-to-riches life I possibly could. While we’re nowhere near rich (I’m a grad student), we’re rich in love. I call JT my cat-son or (most often) my son. Luckily for me, JT is the best kid a pawrent could ask for.
JT has a big personality and is waited on hand and foot (paw and paw?) by my family members. My parents – JT’s Grandpawrents – are always ready to offer up a treat and some scratches. My boyfriend is a first-time Cat Dad, but he’s quickly learning the ropes. JT is usually wary of strangers, but the two guys hit it off right away. As JT’s Meowmy, I make sure he is healthy and happy. JT likes to “meowdel” in the morning, take a nap, venture outside for a bit, and have a treat before bed. On an especially exciting day, he’ll “help” me with a craft – sitting on and supervising my work. JT is a very curious cat and always likes to be the center of attention. I dote on him, but isn’t that what a Meowmy is supposed to do? We’re a happy family, and I’m a very proud Meowm.
Sometimes people ask me how I started JT’s Instagram account. The short answer is family. I was trying to teach my mom how to use Instagram by posting pictures of JT and our other pets, but then the account took off and morphed into what it is today. This is why our IG handle is @otisandjr. My mom’s turtle is named Otis, and she calls me junior. We never intended to make JT famous on the internet, but JT’s Instagram account is the happiest accident of my life. Social media has allowed us to connect with other families around the world – our Furrends – who have furry (or scaly, or feathered) family members, too. Sometimes it feels like we have an extended family on the internet.
JT and I have been together through all the highs and lows of life for the past six years. There have been numerous highs – graduations, birthdays, holidays, fun photoshoots, backyard adventures, and so many celebrations. We’ve built a wonderful life together. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. Even through the hard times, I know I can count on JT to help me keep going. He has been with me through heartbreak and loss. A drunk driver swerved into my lane and hit my car head-on a few months ago. After being treated the ER, I went home, hugged JT, and cried. Once I calmed down, JT wanted me to shake his bowl. He needed me to take care of him. He reminded me that life goes on.
When I was four years old, fourteen years before I met JT, an orange kitten visited my doorstep. My mom told me, “If you feed him, he will stay.” And he did. Slim grew up to be a handsome tabby with white spats and a white “powdered sugar” nose. He was my childhood buddy. He loved to snuggle, “dance” with me in the yard, and “sing” with me. I loved him. I thought he was the coolest cat in the world, and I was thrilled that he chose to join my family. A decade later, my family boarded him at our local vet clinic while we went out of town on vacation. Due to a medical error and confusion at the clinic, he passed away. I was crushed. I was angry and sad. My Slim was gone. I didn’t get to say a proper goodbye. My family was forever changed with Slim’s death.
The thought of this happening to another family breaks my heart. When I heard Chloe the Mini Frenchie’s story, I knew I wanted to speak out and sign the pledge Pet Insider created with the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) to advocate for legal change reflecting the idea that pets are family – not property. I hope you’ll join me in signing this pledge and consider adopting a furry family member of your own. I know for a fact that adopting can change your life.
Please join us in pushing for much needed change by signing and sharing the pledge (https://aldf.org/animalsnotproperty). Follow along every Wednesday for a new story, and sign up for our newsletter to receive it in your inbox.
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