Over the past few weeks has been the first time in almost twenty years that I've been without a pet around. My cat has been in the animal hospital twice. He's there right now and I'm waiting to hear news.
I used to have multiple pets, perhaps for this reason. As pets age, we all know it's inevitable we'll usually outlive them. But this cat was an "only cat" type, so when my aged tabby passed away years ago, I decided that having one big fluffy tuxedo cat was the way to go. And because he has a larger than life personality and acts more like a dog than a cat (being an Angora- affectionate and sociable), that's worked out well. He's always been oh-so-happy so I have no regrets, not for him and not for me.
But the quiet. It's odd not to hear his chewing from a pet bowl, paws running around the corners of hallways (and sometimes slamming into walls), objects falling in other rooms or plaintive meows begging for attention of some sort. It's strange not to have a twenty five pound ball of fur jump up on the keyboard while I'm concentrating on something other than him or to have him plop down and put one of his huge paws on the screen to signal it's time to stop working and go to bed.
Yet it's not loneliness per se. Not the kind Roger Ebert talks about here. Friends keep calling. But they're humans and, as such, our relationship differs. Geesh, not one of them has offered to go in the other room and drop objects, which I think is really unreasonable. Could be fun.
Although I can see some pluses in not having a pet around in terms of time management, it's not worth the loss of companionship and unconditional love they have always given me.