Not that long ago, I went on a date with a man in New York. He worked on Wall Street. He was handsome, in a Mr Big from Sex And The City way. He had a good sense of ­humor and an American Express Black card (they only hand them out to the super-rich). I thought he could possibly be perfect.

That is, until we got onto the subject of pets. I had started to treat him to a slideshow of photos of my animals on my Blackberry. Tiny tabby face followed tiny black and white face.

‘How many cats do you have, exactly?’ he asked, fear in his voice.

You could see him physically recoiling, ­battening down the hatches, catching the eye of the waitress so that he could ask for the bill.
‘And where do they sleep?’ he asked, ­rummaging for his wallet.
‘With me, of course. On my bed.

‘Well, Squeaky goes on my pillow. Sweetie goes between the two sets of pillows. Susie, the former feral cat, is on my chest. She hates it if I move to switch off the lamp, or sneeze…’

‘I worry about claws near my genitals,’ he said, shivering on the pavement, almost throwing himself in front of passing yellow cabs.

I’m glad he bolted. For believe it or not, his aversion to me sleeping with my cats was as big a turn-off for me as it was for him.

I have slept with my cats for more than two decades — and would much rather go to bed with them than a man. For a start, cats are more hygienic than men, and so much easier to house train.

Which is why I was left fuming by a report in yesterday’s Mail that sleeping with animals can be bad for your health, making you susceptible to all kinds of horrible diseases.

Rubbish. It has been proven that children with pets suffer from fewer allergies and diseases, not more. Hospital patients have been shown to have reduced blood pressure when they have been allowed to stroke a cat or a dog, while pet owners are happier and fitter than those who don’t have animals.

Worse still, the study, by Bruno Chomel, a professor at the University of California school of veterinary medicine, and Ben Sun, chief veterinarian for California’s health department, also found that ‘pets have become ­substitutes for childbearing and child care, sometimes leading to excessive pet care’.

These are sentiments that I — as a single childless woman — find as patronising as they are offensive. Just because you choose to share your bed with your pets doesn’t mean you are aching with unfulfilled maternal longing. If that was true, then how come a whopping 62 per cent of cat owners say their pets sleep either on or in their beds?

SOURCE: The Daily Mail 27th January 2011

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