the dog barks, the cat meows.

I am wary of people who do not have pets. All white houses with tidy opaque walls, minus a furry friend ambling around sends a signal, “this person can’t be trusted.”

It’s not difficult to fall in love with most, especially babies. Their wonderful energy and clumsy activity screams — “I need to be loved.” I cuddle and coo showering them with attentive pats, and yet with a full heart I turn and say a reluctant good-bye.

Sadly, we lost our family dog, Lulu last year. While her furry companion, Dakota is still with us, the loss of her is dramatically noticeable. We’ve had a lot of loss this year. I’ve been thinking about another addition to our home. We have space and love in our hearts to do so, but it is such a huge commitment.

Recently, I worked from the local South Paw Cat Café at 749 Bayridge Drive, Kingston. A chance to enjoy a quiet coffee, a sweet somethin’ and a work space surrounded by beautiful felines. Perhaps, even fill my fix for a new pet, or convince me I should bring one home.

The café opened a little more than a year ago, and has helped re-home over 40 cats through their partnership with Kingston Animal Rescue. Every time a cat is adopted a new orphan takes its place, typically eight cats are in residence at one time. As an animal lover, I was bewitched by the idea of a cat café, but also didn’t know what to expect. It was a pleasant surprise. The café is set up like most—you are greeted by a window display filled with delicious food, great staff and drink choices. However, the difference is that the tables are all located within a glass room. You are encouraged to make a purchase, and then slip inside to meet the feline stars of the show.

The tables are generally packed with cat lovers of all ages. In fact, sometimes you have to wait for a table. I learned it is not a place you go to finish work. Visitors at each table want to talk to the cats just as much as you. It’s the place where cat lovers seek out companionship and affection. I saw teens on dates, families, and met a friendly senior admiring the activity around us. I found myself being swept up by the energy in the room, adorable cats sleepily wrapped around each other, bathing or jumping from one hammock or scratching post to the next. It was such fun. I wanted to take them all home.

However, I do not have patience for people who take in pets when they can’t afford the time or money to care for them responsibly.

As a kid, I had very short-lived pet ‘experiences.’ My family got rid of pets as often as the seasons changed.  It was very traumatic. I would fall in love with a stray, be permitted to re-home and give it a name and then it would be gone. From memory we did seem to have a cat, but then they would have kittens. If we got a dog, and it didn’t respond the way it should we’d get rid of it. I blame my parents lack of care – no vets, no pet training, just old-school thinking.  If our pet was sick, Dad took care of it. Yes, it sends chills just thinking about it. Mom grew up on a farm, Dad was the man of the house, so I suspected felt it was his job. But, it was terrible. The pets would be shipped off to someone else. I’m certain it was traumatic for him too, but we never talked about it. We were simply told, ‘they ran away.” I feel terrible reflecting back on it. But, I also find that a lot of pet lovers purchase a new pet and still do the same. Either get fed up with them or love them so much, but can’t afford vet bills. This is not proper pet ownership to me.

This obviously affected me, therefore as an adult, any pet that is mine, is mine until they die. I’m notoriously responsible about vet visits, dog walks, cuddles, and doing your bit to keep your pet healthy. A pet fills a void and provides unconditional love, they trust in you to protect them, keep them safe. It’s your responsibility to act responsibly. Don’t get swept up in the gift giving season, or the sweetness of pet ownership, it’s a lot of work. Something I’m certain is the reason that many furry friends find themselves at Kingston Animal Rescue.

But, if you’re serious nothing beats cat and dog people. So, what makes them so attractive?

Firstly, it proves that you can give love to something other than yourself. Plants are great, (and you should be able to keep them alive too), however, a pet — is a living breathing activity that requires patience, beyond attention, and suggests you are capable.

Dog vs. Cat lover? I have dog friends that think cat people are weird, and cat people who think the same of dog owners. So, what if you enjoy both? I often say I fall in love with cats who think they are dogs. Then again, I’ve loved dogs who curl up and behave like a cat too.

Owning a dog tends to be more of a social endeavour, frequently more work with training, walking and socializing. They force you out of the comfort of your own home. Science claims dog owners are more extroverted.

Cats seem to be the stars of Instagram and Facebook. Also, cat people seem to score higher on intelligence. While they are more introverted, they tend to be more sensitive and open-minded. Although, at the South Paw Cat Café, cat lovers typically have a lot to say to other visitors.

Studies have also shown a direct comparison with which animal you prefer and how it reflects your politics. Liberal vs. Conservative. I don’t believe that the pet you identify with reflects your entire world view, but not being a pet owner affects my view of you.

There is plenty of room in this world for dog and cat people whether they should share the same space or not is a different story.

Check out South Paw Cate Café online at www.southpawcatcafe.com or follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Their Insta-stories are adorable and help you get to know each cat available for adoption. As for me, I’m considering fostering, perhaps a cat, or a dog to make sure it’s the right next step for me. I’m looking forward to this next adventure.