Recently, I’ve noticed a strange energy around conversations about having cats, having children or not having children, and about thinking of your cats as children or part of the family. I’ll describe some of common issues that arise. I’ve learned not to let any of them really bother me, but I find they’re worth exploring.
To me, my cats are like my children. Now, I admit that I say that without much context of child-raising. I have never had human children. I imagine that parenting is both wonderful and difficult, profound and crazy-making. I bet it’s pretty immense.
Would my cats be less like “children” if I also had human children? I will never know. I do remember talking to a woman once who had both human children as well as dogs and cats. She said that her relationship with the animals was just as profound as her relationship with her human children and not diminished in any way.
I began getting the veiled looks from some people (not all!) when I only had three cats. The most I’ve ever had are six cats. Admittedtly, I tend to pick up on vibes, and probably read more into a situation than might even be there. But still: If I’m not a hoarder, and if I take care of my cats well, than why am I crazy? I wouldn’t want 10 kids, but I don’t judge people who have them.
I admit that it is hard for me to know that so many cats are in need and that I can’t help them all. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. People feel the same way about children in need and other causes. This feeling, apparently, is part of the way I’m wired. I try to do the best I can. Five or six cats is our max, financially, and I want them all to get the love and care they deserve.
I will admit that I have gotten more reticent about letting on that my cats are like my children. The odd looks I get are enough to make me keep my thoughts to myself. But the other part of me wonders why this should be an issue. We’re talking about love here, and what’s wrong with that? Love and care of another human or another animal — this is good. This shouldn’t even be an issue. But sometimes you have to be yourself, even if you feel you’re walking the trail alone. However, I feel less and less alone as I’ve ventured into the cat writing and cat blogging world and met many people doing amazingly good things for cats.
In my case, I suspect I am a better parent to cats than I would be to human children. Honestly, I don’t know if I’m made of what it takes to raise little humans. I have a very tender side, and I can be impatient, too. I’ve grown so used to cats. Is this a bad thing? I don’t think so. We all come to the world with our own path, and the things we do well. What could be better about giving love and care — wherever it needs to go?
There’s a cliche about how we find our family, and that our true family may not necessarily include or be limited to our blood family. I know that cats are firmly part of my family and have given me some of the most profound relationships and lessons in my life.
How about you? Do you consider your cats your children? Do you have children, and how does it compare to caring for cats? Do people give you strange looks when you admit that your cats are firmly part of the family? 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 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 a short story collection about people and place. 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.