Pets as Clutter
A guest post by Cindy Bogard
We have five pets: two dogs, one cat, two guinea pigs, and I was the decision-maker for each acquisition, but as I tripped over Tucker the dog this morning, I started thinking about the animals as clutter. I love them, and I don’t intend on getting rid of them (well, maybe the guinea pigs who have become eating, pooping nick nacks), but still I wanted to think about them in a new way: Are animals clutter?
Certainly owning animals involves clutter. The dogs have food, leashes, bowls, beds, brushes, medicine, and clippers that have to be stored, maintained, and replaced. The cat has a litter box, litter, food, bowl, toys, scratching posts, and a perch. The guinea pigs each have a very large cage, bedding, food, water bottles, and their own dust pan, which I use to scoop the bedding when I clean their cages. In all, that’s a lot of stuff.
Additionally, all the animals shed – like crazy. Dust bunnies, hair balls, hair drifts, whatever cutesy name you give them, they’re still hair on the ground, and lots of it. (When my doggie friends Lily and Nick were living, we called their fur balls Linky, in honor of the puppies they would never have. Some of those fur balls were about as big as puppies!) If you let your pets on the furniture, there’s hair there too and likely on your clothes as well.
In my house, one dog loves to carry around dirty socks, which he steals from the laundry basket if he doesn’t get them (almost) directly off our feet, so they are always strewn around the house. The cat tracks some of her litter out of her box every time she uses it, and her favorite toys are balls of paper, which she loves to tear apart when she “kills” them – little bits of paper all over the floor mixed in with the shed hair and the smelly socks. Even the guinea pigs create mess. They eat hay, and the children always drop some of it on the ground between the package and the cages. Wow! That’s a lot of animal debris on the ground. No wonder I sweep so often.
Animals are also expensive. This year I have spent an average of $220 per month maintaining all these mess makers. (That’s about the same in Australian dollars and about 160 Euros.) Plus, there was a very expensive eye surgery for one of the dogs. While spending or not spending money is not clutter, we all know that one of the benefits of living with less is that we buy fewer things and have more money. (Although maybe the money we don’t spend on unnecessary clothes can support a pet instead.)
How can we combat all this pet clutter? For one thing, I think you should consider your pet purchases just like everything else you bring into the home. Does your friend really need a new collar? A sweater? A new bed? If the answer is yes, then the previous collar/sweater/bed needs to be decluttered. If you know, like I did, that you will get another animal when one dies, keep their things. It’s hand-me-downs for pets. The collar and tag that Frankie wears were worn by Lily when she was living. If Frankie gets lost, I may receive a phone call from a neighbor telling me that they’ve found my dog Lily. Does it really matter if they don’t know Frankie’s name?
Additionally, many things that people buy for their pets are really for themselves. I could buy the cat lots of toys to show Stella that I love her (not that she would understand this gesture), but she really enjoys her paper balls, which I make from junk paper. Sure, she might enjoy a catnip mouse (might), but why do I need another thing on the floor when the paper balls are a sure bet, free, and always available to me?
Your pet things can be kept organized in labeled bins or baskets. Leashes can be hung by the backdoor or in the garage. Our cat is lucky enough to have a spare closet almost to herself. This is where her litter box resides, where she is fed, and where all her supplies are stored. The dogs are fed in the kitchen, and their medicines, brushes, etc. are kept in a basket in the laundry room. While the water bowl must be left out, I could pick the dogs’ food bowls up after they eat and store them with the food. If I had a very small space, this is probably what I would do.
Stella has been sitting in my lap as I’m typing, and the dogs are keeping watch over me from the floor. So, are pets clutter? Yes, they create clutter – and plenty of it – but they, themselves, are not clutter. They’re part of my family.
ITEM 297 OF 365 LESS THINGS
21st Birthday Key that my Godfather made for me. I love him dearly but this has been hiding away in cupboards for years and although I am reluctant to part with it there is no point in keeping it.
5 Things I am grateful for today
- Friends and family around when you need them the most.
- Those moments of distraction when you can feel almost like normal.
- Good wishes from all over the world.
- Modern communication – It is so easy to keep in touch in times of need.