Henrietta, a member of our family
By Mila Glodava
Today is a sad day for us. Henrietta. A member of our family for many years, died today at 9 am. Below is a short article I wrote about her in 2007.
This is Henrietta. Kirsten and Kevin gave her as a birthday gift in 1995 to their father, who has loved her just like one of his children.
"Hello, my little one," is how Mark greets her in the morning, "do you want your breakfast now?"
She's family, "a spoiled member of the family," said Kirsten. "She's the only cat I know who gets a birthday party, complete with cakes, candles, and gifts -- toys, bowls, scratching pads and posts, sleeping and sitting mats, exercise gadgets--even a cat spa--and more." At Christmas, she opens her own gifts (with help from the children, of course). She also has her own photo album filled with photographs taken since she first came into our lives. Of course, her portrait sits proudly alongside our children's photographs. She even gets her own mail as Henrietta Marie Glodava, usually from her veterinarian. Yes, Henrietta gets regular medical and dental check-ups and trips to her veterinarian.
Henrietta is a very well-trained indoor cat. She does not sit on couches, but she usually loves to sit on the window sill to watch happenings outside. When she senses we're coming home, she would be by the door waiting for us. She knows where her litterbox is, and where her water and daily treats are. After her own dinner, Henrietta sits patiently by the kitchen door waiting for Mark to take her outdoors for her playtime in the backyard. At night before going to bed, Mark brushes her beautiful black and white fur. "She'd get fresh fur and would limit the size of fur balls she swallows when she grooms herself," says Mark. And it limits the hair that clings to clothing and furniture, which is very important in the Glodava household.
Mark's affection for Henrietta is not uncommon in America. Americans love not only to cuddle the little furry ones, but also to kiss them, and let them lick their faces. The latter is one thing I still could not understand, yet it's true. Americans love to show signs of affection to their pets -- caressing them, playing with them, or have them just sit on their laps while watching television. They even treat them with designer leashes and outfits and take them to pet parlors for groooming and fur styling. And have you seen Christmas cards featuring the sender's beloved cat or dog?
Indeed, the pet industry is a multi-billion dollar business, or$40.8 billion in 2007 to be exact. According to a recent National Pet Owners Survey, 63% of U.S. households or about 71.1 million homes have pets, about 83% of which are dogs and cats. But Americans also own birds, fish and reptiles. In the Glodava household, we've had hamsters, all sorts of fish and even a toad, which Kirsten named "Jensen."
No wonder the pet industry offers health insurance, hospitals, boarding houses and hotels, and grooming studios and aids. There are even cemeteries and funeral services offered. They have their own stores and supermarkets offering the best food and gourmet treats and even high-tech items. And there are many more offerings for pampering pets.
Yes, Americans pamper them and bring them wherever they go. Why? They are great companions, especially for those living alone. The pets give them psychological therapy. They have someone to talk and to pay attention to, especially during the holidays. My husband can testify to this. Struggling to find a job during the recession of the 1990's, Kirsten's cat, Oscar," kept him sane.
Studies show that pet owners (I have to be very careful here, because some cities -- Boulder, Colorado, is one -- have ordinances calling those who have pets as "guardians rather than "owners") derive some health benefits -- lower blood pressure, stress relief, and lower health care costs (people with pets make fewer trips to the doctor).
Mark will be the first one to say that Henrietta gives him and the entire Glodava family all of the above and then some.