Dear Mom: What to expect while watching my crazy pets

I’m headed out of the country! From New Year’s Eve to Jan. 9, I’ll be traveling with my husband Derek for our belated honeymoon, and to make our vacation as stress free as possible, my mother offered to stay at our house and watch our three pets: a pit bull mix named Oreo and two house cats, Bo and Arrow. This generous gift puts my mind at ease because I hate the thought of boarding the three of them at a kennel for so long. Because of my mother, my beloved pets can stay home where they’re comfortable… perhaps a little too comfortable. The following is part of a letter I’m leaving for my mom on the kitchen table.

petstogetherDear Mom,

First of all, thank you for your sacrifice. Not every mother would agree to watch her daughter’s crazy pets for 10 days. Make yourself at home. What’s ours is yours. I’m sorry for having so few doors in our house. It’s an open floor concept. You literally cannot escape the animals unless you lock yourself in the bathroom.

While staying at our house, here are a few things you should know:


  • pets4

    Bo (front) and Arrow

    Bo, Arrow and Oreo expect to be fed in the morning and in the evening down in the basement — at no specific times. However, if you’re late, the cats will let you know by knocking random items off tables.

  • Feed Bo and Arrow about a handful of Science Diet dry cat food each. A little goes a long way with that food. Beware: when you feed them, they’ll look at you with disgust and meow as if you haven’t fed them. They may follow you around for a while. Don’t give in. They do not need wet food, tuna or anything else. They’re overweight, and this has been their diet for a month or so. For some reason, they’re still in shock. But at some point during the day, they will eat the dry food — which is very high quality, by the way. You aren’t poisoning them as their behavior seems to imply.
  • Oreo


    If you feed the cats too much during one meal, you’ll know because Bo will gobble it all up and then start vomiting in random locations throughout the house. Veterinarians categorize cats that behave this way as “gobblers.” They eat too much at once and can’t handle it. Bo once projectile vomited down the stairwell. Clean the vomit up tout de suite. Get it before it hardens.

  • Oreo gets two cups of food in the morning and another two cups at night. When you feed him, he will stand there as if waiting for something more. Give him a hug. Tell him he’s a good boy. Maybe rub his chest. Then leave. He probably won’t eat until you’re out of sight. I don’t know why.
  • Bo trying to go on the trip with us.

    Bo trying to go on the trip with us.

    The cats and dog drink out of a communal water bowl in the kitchen. Bo often tosses water out of the bowl with his paws. Don’t slip on the wet floor.

  • I’m sorry you have to clean out the litter boxes. Empty them into two trash bags, one inside the other. Always double bag it. A trash bag split on me once. It wasn’t pleasant. There are plastic disposable gloves in a drawer in the kitchen – nearest to the window, as well as face masks if you so desire. Trash bags are under the sink. Full trash bags go in the shed.
  • Let Oreo out to go to the bathroom early in the morning, before you leave for work, when you return from work and before you go to bed. He understands the phrase “Gotta go peepee?” and will likely sprint to the door if you say that.
  • Cuddlers


    The animals are allowed on all pieces of furniture save tables and counters. Oreo will sit beside you on the couch. He may try to lay on you. Sometimes he does thing thing we call “being a parrot,” where he climbs onto your shoulders. If you want him to get down, say sternly “off!”

  • Oreo likes to lick Derek’s feet. He does not lick my feet. So there’s a 50/50 chance he’ll lick your feet.
  • The cats will eat any flowers or plants you bring home … and vomit everywhere.
  • The cats will eat any fake plants you bring home … and vomit everywhere.
  • Do not leave food out — especially chocolate, which is poisonous to dogs.
  • Oreo and I sleeping together

    Oreo and I sleeping together

    Do not leave your dinner plate unattended on the coffee table. It’s usually safe to leave food on the counter or the kitchen table for short periods of time.

  • During the day, Oreo has free range of the house. Don’t worry. He never gets into the trash or eats shoes.
  • Bo and Arrow like to hide in the closet. Don’t close them in there. They will pee on the clothes.
  • Oreo will try to sleep with you. He has his own bed, and you can try to tell him to sleep on that. Remember, the command for him to get down is “off.” If you do let him onto your bed, he will likely lean against you, place his paws on both shoulders and lick your face. He does this to me every night without fail. I’m sorry. Do not hide under the blankets or he will try to rescue you by digging with his paws, which hurts.
  • pets1Oreo has several toys — bones, balls and ropes. His favorite are two Planet Dog balls. One is glow in the dark and one resembles a snowball. He chews them and likes to chase them. If they get stuck under a piece of furniture or in the couch, he may whine and bug you to help. Do what you can.


I went on to list important contact information for the pets’ veterinary clinic and the emergency veterinary clinic. I then continued my letter with general information about the house — how to turn on the shower, where to put the trash, the internet password, etc.

…Hopefully the letter will help. I wish I had a few hidden cameras in the house so I could watch my mother’s interactions with my crazy fur children.


Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at