How to be the Best Unemployed Cat Owner Your Cats Will Ever Meet


Three years ago, my sister won $16,000 and a trip to Cabo on Wheel of Fortune. Sadly, she decided to take my mom to Mexico that summer instead of me, so I sat at home for a week fuming about my lack of a tan and lack of room service. To make myself feel better, I devised a “get back at mom” plan and started searching for free kittens on Craigslist. In my mind, the joy of having a cat of my own would last longer than the joy of being drunk for a week at a beachfront hotel. So when my mom and sister got back from their vacation, I convinced my mom to accompany me on my kitten-adopting adventure. Much to our surprise, the kittens were so irresistible that we came home with two. My mom named hers (on the left) Olivia, and I named mine (on the right) Clementine.

Once September came around, I had to make the three-hour drive back to San Diego for my junior year of college, and I also had to make the hard decision to separate Olivia and Clementine. The reason I adopted Clem in the first place was to bring her to school with me and I knew that it was the best decision for everyone involved. After all, my mom also had two dogs and another cat.

Once I got to San Diego, my roommates fell in love with Clementine so quickly that they immediately wanted to get a second kitten. We eagerly browsed Craigslist and eventually adopted a kitten that we named LiLi (pronounced Lee-Lee). But the name didn’t stick. There was something different about this kitten. She was a little bit strange, a little bit dumb and a little bit too cute to handle – no one name fit her. Since we couldn’t come to an agreement on what to call this itsy-bitsy baby kitty, she came to be known as, well, Baby Kitty.

A few months later, the cost of living in a beautiful beach house in San Diego was taking a toll on my family and I. So I made a huge life leap and moved in with my boyfriend of three months, Ryan, to save money. The original plan was for both Clementine and me to move in with him and his roommate, Jared, but the small apartment wasn’t ideal for Clem’s activity level, which in turn was not ideal for my and Ryan’s relationship. So back she went to my mom’s house, leaving me in tears. Sadly, Baby Kitty wasn’t far behind. The girls that took my place at the beach house were allergic to cats, and my old roommate couldn’t bear to keep Baby Kitty locked up in her bedroom. Instead of letting her be adopted by a random person who didn’t understand how unique, weird and sensitive she was, my mom took Baby Kitty in too. Having four indoor cats would drive anybody crazy; that’s why my mom let them have play-dates in a cage outside:

She also let them party:

But, best of all, the sister kitties were reunited:

Nevertheless, Clementine was my baby, and I was responsible for her well-being, as well as Baby Kitty’s. So, after Ryan, Jared and I moved into a larger place, Clementine and Baby Kitty moved back to San Diego. We’ve been a happy family ever since, despite the fact that I’m the only one who pays for their food, litter, etc. How does she support two cats by herself without having a full-time job, you ask? Consider me an expert, and read my words of wisdom below.



1. Rent a place where you don’t have to pay the water bill.
Forget everything you’ve ever been told about cats: they are absolutely nuts about water. Clementine hops into the sink constantly, and licks the faucet until I turn it on. She prefers to let the water run down the side of her face and lick it off of her cheek, which is why I usually leave the water running for two to three minutes (it’s a slow process). Baby Kitty, not to be one-upped, loves to play in the bathtub after I take a shower. She has a thing for water droplets.

2. Rent a place that has at least one window.
This may sound like a weird piece of advice, but I know people who have places with no windows, and their cats are permanently pissed off. Windows provide free, endless entertainment for the cats, especially if they’re indoor cats. Most rentals don’t allow you to have outdoor cats in the first place, so windows truly are a lifesaver in these types of situations. Not to mention, when the cats are entertaining themselves by looking out the window at the trees and birds and neighbors passing by, you have much more time to search for jobs on the Internet while you eat cookie dough in your pajamas at 3 p.m. Clementine even got a boyfriend because of our window. He ripped off the screen to get into our house and hang out with her, and my roommate found him sitting on the couch when he got home. That’s how cute my cats are, I suppose.

3. Rent a place without carpet.
I currently live in a place with carpet, and it sucks. The cats scratch the carpeted corners of the stairs as though they were special scratching posts at various levels. It’s absolutely horrible. While there’s not much I can do for my situation except try to hide the areas that are now painfully carpet-free, save yourselves and get a place with no carpet anywhere whatsoever. You can also save money on a vacuum, as in you won’t need one. We’ve already gone through two, maybe because we bought them at yard sales, but most likely because of the insane amount of cat hair left behind by those two fluffballs.

4. Rent a place with an area to hide the litter box.
Litter boxes are the absolute worst, grossest part of having cats. Besides the smell, cats get litter everywhere when they jump out of their private loos, and when people see that or step on it with bare feet, it’s simply embarrassing. The easy solution is to have a random closet with a window that you can hide the box in, but that’s most likely impossible to find at a broke girl’s price point. If you’re like me and you don’t have a special cat bathroom in your place, get a covered litter box and place it in a room with ventilation. It’s not ideal, but it works, and it’s less expensive than a fancy self-cleaning litter box. A girl can dream, though. A girl can dream.


1. Flea Medicine
Flea meds are a ridiculously important cat supply that are also ridiculously expensive. Not only do they prevent your cats from hating their itchy little lives, it prevents you from having to spend extra money on flea bombing your home. You’ll also have a much better chance of getting the majority of your pet deposit back, and all of us unemployed girls know just how important those types of deposits are. I’ve recently learned that there is a more frugal alternative to Frontline. At about one-third of the price, Pet Armor (sold at Target) is going to be my new go-to flea medicine – after I finish the $80-worth of Frontline I bought last month, of course.

2. Cat Food
Please, for the sake of your cats’ bellies, invest in healthy cat food. There was a point in my post-grad life where I thought it would be okay to just buy whatever cat food was on sale every time my kitties ran out of nom-noms. But then we all learned the hard way that this was a stupid, stupid idea. Cats have sensitive tummies, which can result in piles of vomited food and hairballs all over your house. This in turn results in carpet stains and food that gets eaten up much faster (the more they throw up, the emptier their stomachs get). So save your cats lives and make an investment in their best interest. My mom did a lot of research on this last spring, and now we feed our cats Science Diet hairball control cat food. Sometimes it comes with a coupon in the bag, but if not I always have a coupon sent to me in the mail because I have a Petco (where the pets go) Pals Card. You can also have the food delivered to your house on a repeat schedule. (Who knew?!) I seriously love Petco.

3. Cat LitterĀ 
Buy value boxes of Fresh Step cat litter. Though it’s not the cheapest brand, it’s the best brand because it truly gets rid of odors, and it clumps like a dream. I tried Tidy Cats for a while because it always had the lowest price, but it hardly covered up any odors and didn’t clump at all. I replaced it twice as much as the more expensive litter, and definitely learned my lesson. Clementine, Baby Kitty and I are Fresh Step girls for life. Also worth knowing, litter mats are a total waste of money. Pieces of litter get stuck in them and they trap odors instantly, and you end up sweeping the excess litter that gets around the mat anyway, so save yourself $20 and sweep every morning.

4. Cat Toys
Don’t spend money on cat toys! Ever! My cats’ favorite things to play with are water, plastic bags, highlighters and crumpled pieces of paper. Baby Kitty also loves shoes, while Clementine enjoys cuddling in my lap. Cats are very easily entertained, don’t succumb to the extreme cuteness of pet toys. I will, however, admit that scratching posts are a necessity. While you could find them at thrift stores or yard sales, used scratching posts sketch me out, so I sucked it up and spent $25 on what appears to be a stick covered in rope and my cats are obsessed with it. I trained them to run to it when they get excited by running to it myself and pretending to scratch it. Now, nearly every time I get home, we all run to it and scratch our little hearts out depending on whether or not they just woke up from a cat nap… Is that weird?

Parting Words: The Art of Living, and Keeping Alive
Despite what we’ve all been raised to believe, cats are social little creatures. They love having other bodies to snuggle with, and that’s why it’s important to let them have a friend, preferably another cat but your human self will work just as well. Keeping them social and happy is an important part of keeping your cat healthy. The happier they are the more active they are and the better sleep they get. No sick pet means no expensive vet, and that’s an extremely important aspect of being a fabulous, albeit broke, pet owner. So play with your cats, snuggle with your cats and talk to your cats (seriously, they’ll talk back and they have super cute voices), it will brighten up your life as much as it brightens up theirs.

For Those Who Care: Kitty Profiles

Clementine is a two-and-a-half-year-old Egyptian Mau-ish domestic short hair cat. She enjoys taking baths, talking to birds, climbing clothes to get onto closet shelves, opening and closing cupboard doors to get attention, rolling all over the dinner table to piss my boyfriend off, taking naps in sinks and taking naps with me. She also has a stomach pooch that my roommate thinks needs a little skateboard-type contraption to rest on when she walks. He’s just full of fabulous ideas.

Baby Kitty is the weirdest cat you’ll ever meet. She’s a two-year-old domestic short hair cat that appears to be part wildcat, part alien and part human baby. She loves to be held and loves hugging you back when you’re holding her. She also enjoys taking baths, watching you take a shower, laying on her back like a baby otter, purring uncontrollably, chirping when she gets tickled, running outside to roll in the dirt, licking Clementine and eating plastic bags. One of her favorite places to hang out is on top of the fridge, which is kind of weird but mostly cool.

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