Am I A Cat Owner Or Full On Parent
Cats require the same kind of love and care that children do — preparing us for kids in the most interesting of ways
I’m standing at the humane society, not really wanting to be there as my girlfriend, now wife, scanned the cages and play areas of all the animals. I didn’t want a cat, yet here we were, getting a cat. My entire life had been dog-obsessed so naturally I rejected the notion that a cat could be worth our time.
All of the stereotypes about cats being jerks was a deeply rooted narrative that I choosed to believe without any real proof of my own. Mostly from dog owners and having dogs. And don’t get me wrong, I love dogs as much as anyone, but I learned that these two creatures are just so different. The difference between dogs and cats isn’t whether one is nice or mean. The difference is that dogs love us regardless. Cats need more attention and their love is something we have to work for and establish. People don’t like to put in the work so cats become villains for requiring more from us.
But back to the story.
She looked across the room one more time and her eyes meet a big-headed, small-bodied, long-legged kitten. She wasn’t extremely playful, people had constantly passed her up, and to be honest, she actually looked mean because she was so distant.
We took her out of the cage and to a small 8 by 8 to see how she might interact with us. One of the attendants came in and told us to watch out for this one. She went on a rant about how she doesn’t like people and bit this little girl and is a little “demon” cat.
A little backstory that we pieced together. Luna, as she is now named, was abandoned at an early age. She was found with a huge gash on her back, trying to survive at a gas station over an hour and half away from the shelter. She was less than 3 weeks old. Kittens aren’t naturally supposed to be away from their moms that early, but Luna was.
There was something about her as we played with her, got some cat toys, and watched her kind of pay us attention and kind of not. We decided that we’d give this little long-haired, tortoise-shell Nebelung a try and if we didn’t want her after 2 weeks, we could bring her back. We had no intentions of doing so, but having that comfort there was great.
From the moment she entered into our apartment, she required a lot of work. She couldn’t eat dry food for a few months because of an unknown illness she had. She was taking antibiotics that we had to gave her by hand because of the giant gash she had on her back. We dressed her wound around the clock. We bathed her regularly too. We kept this up for months and saw her personality light up and I saw my response to her completely change. I was always under the impression that I didn’t like cats and I realized why.
For the record, she never bit or scratched us.
I didn’t like cats because I thought I didn’t like them. Over the course of a year, I went from never having a real experience with a cat, to protecting and caring for Luna like my own child. I would ask myself, is she fed? Is she getting attention? Am I teaching her right and wrong? Is she cleaned and her litter box cleaned? Does she have enough things to stimulate her?
Having her was preparing me to have a child of my own, a dynamic I was absolutely unprepared for. I remember growing up and remaining fearful any time I thought about getting married and having kids and wondering if I could do either and be responsible enough to have them. All I knew was how much work they took and all the money they would cost.
Now, I’m not only ready, but I couldn’t be more excited. We now have two cats that I could give my last name to and enroll in school. That’s a crazy thought I know, but that’s how much I’ve grown to love them. My cats made me put in the kind of work that has me elated to take on the responsibility of children.
Pets force you to grow up. You don’t have a choice but to provide for them and give yourself to them just like any other relationship. They help you acquire real skills that apply anywhere. They make you task oriented and even help you stay on a regular schedule. It’s kind of weird, but I don’t see myself as a pet owner anymore. I see myself as a full-on parent and that’s okay because I believe I truly am.