Engaged without a Ring: The Tale of our Engagement Cat

Before Mr. Simple Cheap Mom and I were married, we were in that awkward phase when you know you want to spend the rest of your lives together, but you’re not officially engaged.

Weekend trips away would turn me into a sulky mess and, once it was clear he wasn’t proposing, the trip would end in a fight with him clueless why I was upset.

We had talked about ring shopping and he had given me the go ahead to shop online to pick out the perfect ring. I wanted a simple yellow gold band, with a half carat round cut diamond with an excellent cut and no visible inclusions.

This was the type of ring that my peers were getting from their fiancé. This was the ring that people would expect to see on my finger.

Time dragged on and he didn’t propose.

At some point, I got desperate and tried to bribe him. If he bought me a ring, I would buy him a big screen television. He should get an engagement gift too, right?

How did the love of my life react to being put on the spot? Well, he went out and bought a television for himself on his credit card.

This definitely isn’t a period of my life that I can look back on with pride.

I Didn’t Even Really Want a Ring

It would be nice to have something sparkly to stare at all day. I’m a fan of sparkles sometimes.

But I knew that we’d be joining our finances after we got married and I didn’t want to take on half the debt for a piece of jewellery. (Back then my darling husband believed in forced savings plans where you buy something on credit, then pay off your bill, see television example above.)

I had some other concerns too.

  • I don’t wear much jewellery and I imagined scratching my face while I slept.
  • I worried that the stone would fall out or that I would lose the ring down the drain.
  • I had seen that movie Blood Diamond and I wasn’t fully comfortable supporting that industry, even if it could be proven that is didn’t come from a conflict area.

I only really wanted the ring so that we could get engaged and get married. It felt like that was the only option available to us.

Non Diamond Engagement Ring

You may already know that I’m a fan of non-traditional gifts (like our 52 Mini Dates). So, I went online to find alternatives to a traditional diamond engagement ring.

I found beautiful rings with precious and semi-precious stones. I looked into man made diamonds and imitations. I found intricate lacy gold bands.  I found ladies who had even gotten married without any engagement ring at all.

When I questioned what symbol of our love would mean the most to me. I decided what I really wanted most of all was an Engagement Kitten.

We were planning on getting a cat at some point to make our house a home. But, I didn’t feel comfortable getting a cat until we were sure we could give it a stable home. So, making the cat the symbol of our promises to each other just made sense to me.

Bilbo: The Engagement Cat

Nothing says “I Love You” like a cat.

So one day we went out to the pet shop and got Bilbo.  We had planned to go look at this adorable white fluffy kitten. But when we picked it up it didn’t do anything.

Bilbo was about three times the size of the white puff ball and was the liveliest kitten in the store. We knew that he would be our cat.  So we brought him home and we were engaged.

Bilbo likes to nip at bare legs, scratches the furniture, and wakes us up at night to get under the covers with us. He lets the Little Miss dress him up with necklaces and lets her poke and prod him… to a point. He has such a personality and our lives wouldn’t be the same without him.

Sometimes it IS Awkward Not Having an Engagement Ring

When we were looking for wedding bands, we always got an incredulous look when we said there was no engagement ring to match.

When we first started announcing our engagement everyone would ask to the see the ring. I obviously couldn’t show them because I don’t carry Bill around with me.

The topic of engagement rings doesn’t come up too often anymore. Sometimes I can tell someone feels when they notice I’m not wearing a ring. When I explain I asked for an engagement cat usually they relax, but sometimes I get the jewellery store salesperson to look again.

Even with the occasional awkwardness, I wouldn’t change my decision.

Engagement Cats aren’t Necessarily a Frugal Choice

I just wanted to give a warning out to anyone that’s going to call engagement cats a cheap alternative.

Yes, it’s true that adopting a cat from your local SPCA only costs a couple hundred bucks and rings cost thousands.

But with a ring, all you need to do is clean it every once in a while.

You’ll need to pay for food, litter, toys, vet bills, and furniture re-upholstery for a cat’s whole life.

If that cat is a symbol of your love, then you’ll probably treat it pretty well and can expect it to live for a very long time. Ka-Ching.

We were planning to get a cat at some point anyway, so for us it didn’t add any costs.


Our wedding bands.  The only rings we wear.

There is a lot of expectations and pressures around getting engaged. We both knew we wanted to get married and spend our lives together. But, If we had to wait for Mr. Me to get up the nerve to buy a ring and propose we’d probably still be waiting to get married today.

We took a look at the situation and agreed that the standard diamond ring proposal just wasn’t right for us. It wasn’t something he was comfortable doing and I didn’t value the ring anyway.

For us, a kitten was the perfect way to tell the world that we had decided to be married and spend our lives together.

When you question why you are following traditions that don’t seem to apply, you get the opportunity to create new traditions that you believe are more meaningful.

What About You?

Do you believe that a diamond engagement ring is an essential step for a couple getting married?
Do you know anyone with a non-traditional engagement ring?
Did you consider / are you considering an alternative engagement ring?

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Written by mom

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