I smell a rat

Cleo the Cat, living her best life

I saw the craziest thing in the pet store yesterday. I was there because it was my cat’s 15th birthday and I needed to buy her some gifts for her birthday celebration. I know what you’re thinking and, no, it was not ME who was the craziest thing in the pet store yesterday. If you choose not to have birthday parties for your pets, then that’s your prerogative, but I hope you realize you are missing out on a great excuse to have cake. And that’s sad.

Anyway, as my kid and I were waiting in line to pay for our various gifts, there was a woman at the check-out who had some kind of small animal resting on her shoulder. I pointed it out to my kid, and he screamed, “What is that?!?!” to my embarrassment and horror. Just kidding, I was just about to scream the same thing, but he beat me to it.

The owner of the pet glanced in our direction and replied sweetly, “He’s a rat.”

I screamed, “A rat?!?” and just stared at this gigantic thing perched on her shoulder. I mean…a rat. A GIANT rat. And it was wearing a leash.

Upon further inspection, we saw that the woman had a little carrier for the rat. It was a cat carrier, but for her rat. So it was a rat carrier, I guess.

My kid and I were just staring at the rat, amazed by its size and the fact that it was impeccably behaved. I think I’ve seen rats before on subway tracks. They were not impeccably behaved, as far as I was concerned.

Then something else caught my eye. There, sitting on the cashier’s counter two feet away, was a cat. Looking at the rat. I looked at my kid, he looked at me, and we both kind of panicked.

“Um, is it okay that there’s a cat right there?” I said to the cashier. I mean, how could the cat NOT be going crazy at that moment? Don’t cats hunt rats and mice? Isn’t that how they’re wired? What madness was this?

“Nah, he’s okay,” they said. I let it go, but I couldn’t help but picture the bloodbath that was surely about to happen. My kid would be traumatized. I would be traumatized.

All I wanted to do was scream, “Woman, put that rat in the carrier!!!” But I didn’t because I didn’t want to seem crazy. Yeah, because I was the crazy one in this situation.

It turns out that the woman with the rat left before the cat attacked it, to my huge relief. The rat was spared on that particular day, and all I’m left with are a variety of questions: Why a rat for a pet? Where do you get a leash that tiny? Do you take your pet rat on regular outings? Can you walk it like a dog? And, most importantly, WHAT WAS THE RAT’S NAME? I guess I’ll never know.

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