A couple of weeks ago, we packed up my daughter and drove her to college, where she’d live completely independently for the first time in her life. As a mother hen, I was overcome with mixed feelings of excitement, pride, fear, nervousness, and flat-out panic. Would she remember to order refills for her inhaler? Would she eat enough vegetables? Would she make it to her classes on time?
Then the reality hit me: She’s an adult now, and I have to let go and trust I’ve taught her well enough to live as a successful grownup. Not that she’d never make mistakes, but she needed to learn from those mistakes on her own.
Yes, it’s kind of cool that my husband and I have raised a human being who is capable of keeping herself alive without our assistance; however, I kind of miss being able to care for someone who’s a little bit helpless. My 16-year-old son is slightly helpless when it comes to remembering to do his laundry, but I’m talking about a dependent little being. And no, I do not want another human baby — no way, no how. Thankfully, my three cats help defer any “empty nest” feelings by fulfilling my need to care for little ones who require daily care.
Here are five of the ways my kitties are like perpetual toddlers.
As human children grow older, they learn to feed themselves and even prepare and cook meals. This is a good thing, because they need to learn these sorts of skills so they don’t starve to death or simply sustain themselves on potato chips and cereal (although I do think a fair amount of this potato chip-cereal thing happens — at least from what I remember about college cuisine).
Cats need us to feed them. They’re unable to pop the top off a can of food or pour kibble into their bowl. I’m certain they wish they could do these things, but as of this moment, they cannot. I like that they depend on me to nourish their little bodies, although I draw the line at breastfeeding.
When my kids were young, we snuggled all the time. Those times are some of my favorite memories. Although teenagers don’t really enjoy snuggles from Mom, my cats are still up for a cuddle most any time of day. Thankfully they’ll never grow out of that.
When you sign on for parenthood, you agree to change dirty diapers. It’s rarely a pleasant experience, but you do it because it’s part of taking care of a little human being. Thankfully, potty-training time rolls around and children begin take care of their own “business.”
Cats, on the other hand, require us to scoop their pee and poo and maintain a clean litter box. I know some cats are trained to use a human toilet, but I had enough trouble potty-training humans. Why would I want to go through all of that with three cats? I kind of don’t mind cleaning litter boxes. Yeah, I really typed that.
Before my kids could drive, I was the Mom Taxi. I drove them to school, play dates, and appointments. I loved driving this because it meant I had extra time with them — they were a captive audience, and we sometimes had our best discussions in the car. I don’t drive them much anymore, but I do get to drive my kitties to vet visits. Although my one-on-one cat time with my cats usually involves them “singing” all the way to the vet’s office, I do enjoy being a part of their lives and feeling responsible for their care. It’s nice to feel needed, even if car rides are kind of a nightmare.
I’m an affectionate person. I love to give and receive hugs, and probably say “I love you” more often than the average person. When my kidlets were young, they were all about Mom’s hugs and kisses. As they got older, they grew less enthusiastic about my displays of affection. My son was especially embarrassed if I tried to hug or kiss him in public. My cats are usually open to my demonstrative nature, which feeds my need to excessively hug and kiss — even if it sometimes results in an angry snuggle.
In what ways are your cats like perpetual toddlers? Tell us in the comments!
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About the Author: Angie Bailey is an eternal optimist with an adoration of all things silly. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, thinking about cats doing people things and The Smiths. Writes Catladyland, a cat humor blog, Texts from Mittens (originated right here on Catster) and authored whiskerslist: the kitty classifieds, a silly book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in a comedy web series that features sketches and mockumentaries. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food.