Don’t Tell Me I Can’t Consider My Cats as My Kids

art by Susan Faye

illustration of the Tasty Face Family by Susan Faye (facebook.com/SusanFayeArt)

A self-important mommy blogger just wrote the screed Saying Your Dog Is Your “Baby” Is an Insult to Moms Everywhere. Although her sentiments were directed at dog owners, I’m sure thinks no more kindly of cat owners. She describes how much more difficult it is to give birth vs. adopting a pet, how much more complicated and important it is to babyproof your home, and how a dog won’t tell you “I love you, Mommy.”

I respect the hell out of the parents of human children. It’s hard, 25/7/365 work, and it’s not something I could ever imagine doing myself. But don’t diss the relationship I have with my cats, please. Here’s a snippet of her post:

If I failed in my duties, I’m not facing a chewed-up family heirloom; I’m looking at a dead kid and a DSS inquiry.

The stakes are a wee bit higher.

Not that owning a dog isn’t high stakes. You’re responsible for the feeding and caring of your dog. Pet ownership is a serious commitment that should only be taken up by those who really mean to care for an animal for the rest of its natural life.

You’re stuck with your dog . . . except you’re not because you can leave. Before my husband and I had kids, we traveled all the time — dropped the pups by the doggie spa, payed extra for playground time, and hopped the plane guilt-free.

I can’t just leave my toddlers. Sure, maybe one day I’ll be able to leave them with relatives for some overnights. But it’s not quite as simple as plunking my credit card down at the kennel.

You can mostly ignore your dog. Yes, your dog lives in your house, and yes, you love it. But your attention is not focused on the dog every moment it’s awake.

GRRRRRRRRRRRRR! I had a little hissy fit when I read that.

For all the people who say you can “ignore your dog,” there are many more who say you can ignore cats. These people should never be allowed to own pets. Dogs and cats are sentient, emotional beings who deserve and crave as much attention as children do. There, I said it.

When my now-hubby and I were first dating, he was befuddled by my relationship with my cats. He’d never had a cat before. He thought I was a little nuts for having two-way conversations with them and talking incessantly about them. That changed pretty quickly once he got to know them. He was side-by-side with Mao as Mao grew from kitten to mancat. Hubby had two-way conversations with Mao, and it didn’t take long for him to become a dyed-in-the-wool Cat Guy.

Do we think of our cats as our kids? Of course. We have a family dynamic that’s not much different from that of a traditional human family. We are wracked with grief when faced with euthanizing one of them – a trial through which human parents never have to suffer. We experience the same happiness that dads-playing-catch-with-kids experience when we play with them.

We don’t ignore them, throw them in a kennel and travel guilt-free. In recent years, hubby and I have never spent more than one night together away from home because as Mao entered his senior years his separation anxiety escalated. We respected that and structured our lives around it. Even now, free of that restriction, we haven’t been able to plan a vacation and leave the cats at home… because hubby doesn’t trust that a catsitter would tend to all of their needs (and he worries, “Who would feed the skunk?”). I try to reassure him, but I don’t try too hard because I worry about those things, too.

“Family” consists of the beings with whom you choose to share your life. Just as that definition has expanded to include same-sex parents, single parents, and adopted children of different races, it should also include those of us to choose to share our lives with those of other species as familial units.

How human is your family?

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Category: Featured, Lifestyle

About the Author ()

Mousebreath Magazine is an award-winning online magazine that celebrates cats and the cat-centric lifestyle. Editor Karen Nichols is a popular conference speaker and writer, whose current project is The Cat Scout Handbook. She is also the denmaster at CatScouts.com.

Comments (6)

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  1. Simba says:

    ABsolutely! Well said.

  2. Jeanette says:

    Very well said Karen. It’s up to us how we define family.

  3. Mighty Kitty says:

    Very well said! Pets (to some folks) are their children and should be treated just as you would treat your other family members! They feel, they hurt, they give and give more, they are unique and very wise if you pay attention to them! Thank you for saying what so many feel!Just cause they aren’t human, does not mean that their life is not important too!

  4. Shadow Dance Ranch Kittehs says:

    You are so right, Karen! We are not objects to be *ignored*. We are all family! Our momma never leaves us alone for more than a couple of hours! She would never trust anyone to see to our individual specific needs. We each have our own special time with her. She is always talking with us, playing with us and loving us (all together there are 5 horses, 2 burros, 1 sheep and 23 cats, plus the 5 stray/feral cats here at the Ranch)and not one of us is lacking for attention or love. xoxoxo Dancer and the SDR Clan

  5. Riley says:

    My thoughts exactly! Being a mommy or daddy involves loving and caring for someone vulnerable, no matter how many whiskers they may or may not have. Maybe Ms Mommy Blogger shouldn’t be a pet owner if she thinks it is ok to ignore them, as they need love too, even if they can’t exactly say, “I love you” in our words.

  6. C.A.T.S. says:

    I feel sorry for Mommy Blogger’s dog. The poor doggie gets treated like an object. I hope her children do not pick up her attitude.

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