Three days later, and it’s as though Bola has been here forever. We’re settling into a comfortable pattern with each other, which seems to involve a lot of sleeping and scampering about on his part, and a lot of moderating the destruction left in his wake on ours. Luckily, we’ve discovered that playing with him before we go to bed means that he will actually let us sleep for most of the night, which is a happy change from our last cat, who enjoyed waking me up by purring in my face every night at 2, 4, and 6 AM.

In fact, all around this is a nice change from our last cat. Bola is far braver and smarter than that cat ever was, and will actually listen when you tell him that the coffee pot or shower do not present a mortal danger to him. He was harder to convince when my brother came over, as he made all kinds of loud noises and left his friend’s dog outside to whine. Bola dashed under our bed and remained there, purring to let me know he still loved me, but I’m staying right here thanks.

In short order, Bola has pretty much taken over our lives, which we have happily relinquished to his small furry dictatorship. On Saturday, I spent a good 15 minutes on the phone with a girlfriend talking about our cats. Ten years ago, we talked about boys. Now, we talk about our cats.

Ah yes, the thirties are definitely our most glamourous decade yet.

During this whole adoption process (though I’m still not sure whether we adopted Bola or he adopted us), I’ve been thinking a lot about our attitude towards pets in general. Our country has a mania about its furry companions, and spends some ridiculous amount of money on them every year. We treat them like children, sometimes better, and so far Gabe and I are no exception.

We got Bola from a sweet lady who goes to shelters and rescues cats and kittens scheduled to be put down, then either fosters them herself or places them with other people until they get adopted. There is a whole slew of programs like this in the Bay Area, many of which are run by people who take their pets far too seriously. Every time we wanted to even meet a cat from one of these organizations, we had to fill out a lengthy application, starting with “Why do you want to adopt a cat?” Um, what am I supposed to say to that? Because they’re cute?

One lady wouldn’t even let us see a kitten because I mentioned we were planning on having kids, and she thought he needed a more “mellow” home environment. I get that they want them to go to a good home, but really. It’s a cat. Not a child from a Third World country.

Speaking of other countries, it almost makes me laugh to compare these good people’s attitudes towards pets to what we have experienced elsewhere in the world this year. In Portugal, skanky alley cats reigned supreme, my favorite being the black cat that lived on our street, which had its ears completely chewed off and a grizzled, hundred-mile stare.

The same conditions applied pretty much everywhere else we went, including Morocco and Israel. It was somewhat of a novelty to come back to the States and be able to pet a cat that you see on the street instead of giving its scabrous flea-bitten hide a very wide berth indeed. I tried telling this to some of the ladies we met through this adoption process, and they were horrified at the stories I told. I stopped mentioning it after a while, but could not imagine such a service functioning in Portugal. They would certainly have their hands full.

I found an article that goes into all of this in far more depth on Salon the other day. Us Americans and our pets. What’s the deal, anyway?

Perhaps I will be able to answer that as soon as I’m not so busy answering to the beck and call of my kitten.