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Le Corbusier Chaise Longue

What the urbane Pit Bull is wearing this season...

Am I the only rat chick out there with serious issues surrounding the availability (or lack thereof) of good habitats for our rodent friends? I doubt it. Show of hands, please: who out there is tired of purple plastic cages that look like they started out life as a toy space ship or a Barbie dream house? Shall we read yet another article to the effect that wire mesh wheels are the devil’s playground and that if your rats don’t have solid ramps you are going to hell, wherein you will burn? How about another holier-than-thou rattery home page positing the opinion that if you don’t fork over for a Martins Cage…well, you just don’t love your babies right and ought to have them removed from your home by the SPCA! Good grief.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m a stickler. Hell, I’ll just go there now and admit right up front to being an art-snob thinking-class house-proud design nazi and an out-and-out aesthetic-elitist bitch when it comes to how our pets and their habitats should fit into the Platonic ideal of one’s home. I recently criticized my wonderful friends Jenny and Dave in their decision to rescue an absolutely fabulous black and white pit bull puppy…because he didn’t match their home’s interior color palette. Think I’m kidding? Jen and Dave have a marvelous home full of warm arts-and-crafts colors, enough mission furniture to restock a Restoration Hardware, and a beautiful brindle pit bull bitch that brings it all together in the same way that the right tie animates a good suit. And I’m sorry, but young Petey is just too ’80’s postmodern for their little slice of bungalow heaven, what with his black and white coat and his perfectly graphic Li’l Rascals eye patch. Petey needs to wrap himself in a sleek moderne high rise full of chrome Wassily Chairs and pony skin Corbusier Chaise Lounges and a big-ass black and white Robert Longo lithograph series on stark white walls. I informed Jen in no uncertain terms that the only way I would approve of their keeping Petey was if they agreed to redo their upstairs bath in black and white tile. Ask her, she’ll confirm it. And if she has any sense at all, she’ll take my advice. Jarring pet design isn’t karma you want to mess around with.

Or take my rats: until the recent arrival of Sebastian and Antonio with their caramel latte coloration,  the boys all fell strictly into a gray scale design series. It was no accident that Will’s Siamese white with ash points, Henslowe’s black and white Berkshire markings, Tybalt’s pony skin black and white, and Arthur’s gray and white Berkshire w/white star could all be reproduced accurately without a color cartridge in the printer. Those boys look fine together. And come to think of it, all of the girls fall into a tight, chic  blue-gray-taupe palate. Design matters, brothers and sisters. Aesthetics count. Can I get an Amen from the choir?

And it’s for just that reason that we shouldn’t settle for cheap, crappy, cutsie, My Pretty Ratty habitats or, conversely, for cages that look like they were designed to hold industrial waste (sorry, Martins, but your cages look like nine levels of machine-age, Frankensteinian ass).

Right. Did you hear that? That cosmic THWAP you just heard echoing in the distance was the throwing down of a sizable gauntlet. Over the next several days we will  chat a bit about what works and what doesn’t work in cage design for pet rats: what does and does not promote good husbandry, good accessibility, and good design. Though he may have been pedantic and irritatingly French, when Roland Barthes insisted that everything signifies, he was right on the mark. Cage selection speaks volumes about the sort of person who makes the choice to allow that specific cage to become a significant design element in the home.

What is your rat’s habitat saying about you right now?

The perfect rat for a Martins Cage