I was working at the adoption center yesterday when I noticed a man, I'm guessing mid-twenties, who had been standing in front of the cages for a few minutes.
"Can I help you?" I asked.
"Yeah," he said. "I need to get my girlfriend a cat for Valentine's Day. I guess I'll take ... that one," he said, pointing at a cat.
Oh boy, I thought. Where do I start?
"Um, I'm really sorry, but there is an application process that has to be completed, and there's no way we could get it done in time for Valentine's Day."
"Really?," he asked.
"Yeah," I said. "And, plus, we don't really adopt cats out without meeting the person who will actually be caring for the cat. The only time we really do "surprise" adoptions is when it's a parent adopting a kitten for a child. And even then we like the child to meet the kitten first."
Plunging on, I asked, "And are you sure your girlfriend even wants a cat?"
"Well," he said, "She really wants a kitten. Why don't you have any kittens here?"
Okay, so at this point, this dude was ready to adopt an older cat, even though his girlfriend wanted a kitten. I went into a brief explanation of why kittens are not available in the wintertime. I suggested that if he wanted to, he could try other local shelters, although they probably didn't have any kittens either, and there was no way they could push the adoption process through in two days. I explained again that no shelter will adopt out a cat for a "surprise". I said he could maybe print up a certificate, like, a "good for one kitten" kind of thing, and give THAT to his girlfriend on Valentine's Day, and then they could go pick out a cat together.
"How about if I at least start the adoption process," he said. "On one of these cats. And that way I can at least show her the paperwork on Valentine's Day."
Okay, this dude was desperate, and starting to ... well ... irritate me.
"I'm really sorry," I said. "But there is no way the adoption group would start the application process on a cat knowing that you're planning on surprising your girlfriend with it. How about if you come back on Valentine's Day, and bring your girlfriend with you? You can surprise her by bringing her here, and asking if she's interested in any of the cats."
"Okay, thanks," he said. "But I really need to get her a kitten for Valentine's Day," he added, and left.
Look, I know that love makes you do crazy things, but "surprising" someone with a pet for a gift, a living, breathing thing that needs a lot of care and can live upwards of twenty years is, like, a really bad idea. Those are exactly the kinds of cats who end up in shelters. "Well, my boyfriend got me this kitten, and it was really cute, but now it's all ... big and my landlord says I'm breaking the lease and I can't keep it any more." Oh man, we get that a LOT.
I really, really hope he just gets her a card and some chocolates. MUCH better idea. But I'm pretty sure he spent last night on Craigslist, trolling for kittens.