When I was 14 a kid's consumer programme – along the lines of Watchdog, but presented by and for teenagers – came to my school. They came to talk to us about our issues, and to see if we would like to be on their programme. What was it that worried us modern day teens about living in the 90s, how did we feel about “the internet”, did we have an email?
I put my hand in the air. “Bunnies.” I confidently ventured. “Bunnies are completely underrated pets, and it HAS TO STOP.” I felt a little flutter of pride at being the one who had finally said it. I have never been able to understand quite why they didn't run with this hot-button topic on their programme, but it was entirely to their detriment and I was less than impressed with the article on “why are tuck shop sweets so expensive?” that they ran in its stead.
Rabbits make the best pets. That's right, I've just gone ahead and come out and only gone and done and said it. Bunnies make the BEST pets. I'll have none of your dogs and cats, or your budgies or guinea pigs – frankly, they can all fuck off as long as bunnies are around and I'll tell you for why.
Cats don't love you. Whatever you think cat lovers, let me tell you now that they don't love you. They see you as a pathetic substandard life-form with a pitiful habit of craving their affection and talking to them in an odd squeaky voice. If they could talk, they would tell you that their name isn't Mr Piddlepants, but is in fact RODENT CARNAGE MOUSE KILLER.
They insinuate themselves into your graces through shameless flirtation and loud cawing noises until you feed them, and then they bugger off to the house next door to repeat the whole sorry process again. They feel no remorse. They openly shit in a tray in your kitchen, where you prepare your food, that you EAT. They could not care less. I respect them for this, but it doesn't make me want to cohabit with them.
Dogs on the other hand genuinely love you, but dear LORD have you smelt their breath?! Eating all of that revolting dog food and whatever crap they've found decaying in a field does not an aromatic mouth-odour make. Plus, you have to take them out for walks, and I am lazy. A dog is not for me.
Nope, it is rabbits for the win. Rabbits are brilliant for so many reasons. Firstly, have you ever even seen a rabbit?! They are the cutest little bundles of joy that ever lived and I can, and do, waste hours on the internet scrolling through page after page of bunny photos squealing joyfully to myself. Then, they are so clean. They clean up after themselves by eating their own shit.
They do a little tiny inoffensive poo, that looks like a Malteser and then they neatly hoover it up themselves. They are very pernickety about their personal hygiene in general. They choose for themselves a designated toilet area, which will be the only place they do their business, and they keep the rest of their area tidy.
I think their bad rep comes from people thinking they are boring. Rabbits are far from boring, in fact rabbits are very playful. If you give a rabbit a towel it will entertain you, and itself, for hours by digging it up into a big bunch and then smoooooothing it out again, burrowing underneath it, picking it up and throwing it around.
Give them a nice big garden to play in and they will barrel around doing leaps and jumps, and generally have a fantastic time of it. In spring they go particularly loopy, from the sheer joy of it all.
I'm feeling particularly bunny-broody at the moment because I live in a first floor town house in the middle of London, and so obviously can't keep a pet, let alone a garden-loving rabbit. My own darling bunny, a cashmere-lop-earred-Netherland-dwarf-cross called Merlin, died two years ago. He lived in my parent's garden to the remarkable old age of 14 (practically Gandalf in rabbit years) and was, in the vet's own words, “the happiest rabbit he'd ever seen”.
We had other rabbits too, but Merlin was my own particular pet. He had free reign in the garden during the day, and when I went out to see him he would race towards me and run round and round and round my feet in circles, for ages. He only did it for me.
When I brought him into the house, he would try and sneak up the stairs where he wasn't allowed, and when we called him back he always came hopping sheepishly down, stop at the step where I would be waiting, push his nose on mine apologetically, and carry on back to the living room. If I was reading a book he would get irritated at me for not giving him any attention, grab the book with his teeth and throw it across the room. He did all these things, and so many more, and I miss him all the time.
Of course rabbits aren't boring. The worst thing you could do with any pet would be leave it in a tiny hutch all day on its own, and rabbits are no exception to this. They like the company of other rabbits and of people. They like fresh air, grass to nibble, a chance to chew and dig, and space to run around in. If you locked up anyone or anything like this they would be miserable, and so it can hardly be a wonder that rabbits left like this are too.
It's heartbreaking to read news reports of mistreated animals, and hearing about rabbits being locked up and left alone is all kinds of horrible too. Obviously, the RSPCA have absolutely fantastic advice on looking after your bunny.
Rabbits are underrated pets and I've just never understood why. They're wonderfully affectionate. Merlin liked nothing better than to be cuddled for hours on end. He would occasionally get impatient and run off to hide under the settee, or climb on some flower pots, but he would always come running back for a cuddle sooner or later.
My lovely little Merlin. He had been my pet for half my life when he died, and I still find it baffling and sad that he's not around any more. The day he died I cried and cried and couldn't stop crying, and though I do still miss the little bundle of fluff I have so many lovely memories of all the funny little things he used to do. And I will never stop telling people all the different ways that bunnies make the best – the very best – pets.
So, over to you – tell me about your bunnies and why they are the best, or tell me I'm completely wrong about cats and all the ways that they do love you really *cynical face*.