After my first husband left me over a cat, I vowed never to let a man enter my life who didn’t adore pets as much as I do. But when I met my fiancé, Nathan, and he got ready to move in with his six rescued cats, I knew that I could no longer let my favorite dog, Buddy, sleep in my bed.
Before I adopted Buddy, I didn’t let my other dogs sleep with me; Daisy and May Belle slept in crates in my room.
When I brought Buddy home, I tried to make him sleep in his crate just like the other two. But Buddy cried. And cried. And moaned. And yelped. And ate his blankets. And then I had to pull fabric shreds out of his butthole when he couldn’t poop them all the way out.
Eventually Buddy’s whining and blanket eating tendencies led me to cave in and invite him into my bed.
Once Buddy got settled in next to me at night, he was the best cuddler ever. Somehow he maneuvered his body just-so to become the perfect co-sleeping companion. And it was great.
But then I fell in love with a crazy cat man, Nathan, who lived across the country and had six cats of his own. The first few months of our romance were conducted via phone: a constant stream of texts with a sprinkling of calls. There was no inconvenience to any of our pets. Or us.
Once Nathan and I made the decision to move in together, I knew Buddy would have to exit my bed. Not because Nathan had asked him to, but because he had his own cats. And Buddy chases cats. And likes to terrorize them.
Because of that, my cats live in my son’s room, while the dogs freely roam downstairs.
I have enough experience living with cats to know that you don’t suddenly bring strange cats into common territory together, so the only place where Nathan’s cats would be able to roam would be my bedroom.
This being the case, I knew there was no way on earth that Buddy would be chill with six new furry friends to chase in what he saw as his bedroom.
The first night Nathan moved in, I relocated all three dog crates to the second floor of the house. I felt guilty and a little sad, almost as though I was kicking them out of my house.
Much to my surprise, Buddy did not cry all night long. Or, if he did, I didn’t hear him. I had assumed it would take time for him to fall into the new routine. Yet, surprisingly he settled right into it.
The hardest thing about being the caretaker for multiple pets is that you must divide your attention in so many different ways.
It’s like when you have more than one human kid: You want to give an equal amount of love and attention to each one, but because each has different needs and they are at different developmental ages, sometimes it feels unbalanced.
Buddy has been a demanding dog, as far as attention goes, from the minute he entered our home. He likes to be right next to me all the time. He is territorial. He is selfish. He wants to be number one. All the time.
Because his need was so great, I ended up accommodating it. Maybe because it felt good to be so needed and loved by such a handsome little pup.
As they say, all good things must come to an end. I had to give up sleeping with Buddy so Nathan’s cats could have some of their own territory. And while certain good things may end, new good things begin.
Perhaps it’s better to say, rather, that things simply change. Life changes. While some things can be clearly labeled “good” or “bad,” more often it seems like we live in a continuum of both good and bad. I very much enjoyed Buddy sleeping next to me, but I also enjoy sharing a bed with my new partner and his cats.
I would not invite a partner into my home who would ask my dog or cat not to sleep in bed with us. But happily I fell in love with a man who loves cats and dogs as much as I do, and he came with six cats. Just like I came with my own cats, dogs, and kids. When we fall in love, we fall for the complete package. Merging your life with someone else means that you have to shift and shuffle in order to reorganize daily routines.
I miss sleeping next to Buddy, but he is okay. I am okay. Our life is shifting, pleasantly, as our family continues to grow.
Have you had to change your pets’ sleeping arrangements for a new partner? Let’s talk in the comments.