I’ve never had human children, so I may not exactly know what I’m talking about when I compare parenting human children to parenting cat children. That being said, I suspect there’s lots of overlap between the two, and I bet my experience parenting cats and dogs would make me a terrific parent of a human child.
Here are nine reasons why:
Ever tried feeding six cats? It’s busy and you have to stay on top of who gets what. Meanwhile, the cats are crying, milling, jumping, and trying to get my attention. It take a major multitasker to do this, and I bet I’ve gotten a lot better at it. Rama needs several supplements in canned food. Kieran needs a homeopathic drop on his ear. Norton and Rama will eat every one else’s food if I don’t quickly shuttle them off to a different room. Geez — why work out?
I’m constantly running up and down steps with a cat under my arm, or coaxing another cat into a room with a door. I remember doing all this once — the craziness of multi-cat feeding — when I had the insight, “Oh, this must be what having a bunch of children is like!”
Cat whining? If I’m within earshot, I’m up and checking it out. Something sounds wrong? I’m on it. Do you know how a certain crash of stuff falling, or a certain cry of a cat, doesn’t feel right? I swear, I’ve developed a mom’s sixth sense about these things. And my husband is the same way. If we hear some strange animal sound in the house, we’re both up and running to make sure things are okay.
I don’t always defend myself as fiercely as I should, but nobody ever dare harm my animals! The power of this parental instinct to protect just amazes me. I know you all know what I’m talking about.
If an animal needs help or medical care, I’ll do whatever I can. I sometimes go overboard. But wouldn’t any parent do the same thing? Parents put their children’s needs ahead of their own, and I find myself doing that again and again with our pets. It’s crazy, and we might be further ahead financially if I didn’t do this, but it’s almost like something I can’t not do.
Do parents of human children love them unconditionally? I hope so. I suspect that it might be easier for a lot of us to love our pets unconditionally. But this could be really good at making me a better parent. I’ve said it before — cats are some of our greatest teachers, and one of their biggest lessons is how to love unconditionally. When you experience this, even if only for a moment, it is an amazing feeling.
All parents have proud parenting moments! I’ve had plenty of proud cat parenting moments. I bet that learning to appreciate the joy of these little (and big) things would help me with human children. Cats, pets, and children are so good at helping us notice and celebrate the great things that happen every day — whether it’s a cat getting along with another cat, a rescued feral who tames up, a cat who recovers from illness or a bad situation, or even a great moment watching any kind of children (cat, dog, human, other) play.
I’m getting better at this. I’ve always been a very auditory person, and I like to work in silence. But I think I am developing a skill I’ve noticed in human parents — the ability to somehow concentrate on something and selectively weed out the din that the cats (or other children) create. Something happens where I know what to ignore (squabbling, for example) and what to get up and check out (serious squabbling, injury, or something that sounds worse). Human parents must develop this skill — I don’t know how they’d last, otherwise.
I miss my cats SOOO badly when I have to be gone. Again, I remember realizing at some point, “This is what parents go through!” They miss their kids greatly. I really really love traveling, so this has to be a pretty strong emotion (missing the cats) for me to notice it. And I do. I go back and forth between trying to be numb about it (not thinking at all about the cats and enjoying whatever I’m doing) or bothering whoever is watching them (“Are they okay?” “Does Kieran miss me?” “Are they eating?”).
I don’t have much of a temper, but I can be very impatient. My cats have taught me for my own good, and theirs, to remain calm.
Are you a cat parent? A parent of human children? Has one helped the other? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of The Great Purr (cat fantasy novel out June 1), the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of two short story collections. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.