My cat used to be my baby. That was until I had a real baby, and then my cat went from being coddled to being just a cat. Now that my son is older, Furball is reclaiming his role as the baby in the family. Throughout this journey, there have been exasperating moments, but there have been exhilarating moments, too.
I do have to offer a caveat here that when you’re a full-time mom, your idea of exhilaration changes. Feeding pennies into the Coinstar and hearing it cha-ching as it tallied up my change was once the highlight of my month. This was in stark contrast to BK (before kid) when excitement meant flying to Vegas on a whim and hearing the cha-ching of slot machines as I walked through the casino to catch Destiny Child’s farewell tour.
But, if you’re a mommy, too, I’m sure you can empathize. You must have enjoyed the highs and the lows you get from being both a kitty and a kiddie parent. Here are five of my proudest moments as a mom to a cat and a kid. Perhaps you’ve been blessed with some of these experiences, too.
When we first brought the baby home, Furball didn’t pay him much attention. He did however, know when another creature was suffering and wanted to help.
When the baby cried, Furball became very visibly concerned. This was especially true when the baby was crying for food. I guess the cat could empathize with having a hungry stomach. If the baby cried for more than a few seconds, Furball would start meowing at us. If the crying continued, Furball would actually attack us. It was as if he were saying, "This little guy is upset. Do something."
Sometimes I wondered if Furball was meowing because the crying was too noisy, but my mother’s intuition told me otherwise. This little cat cared. I was sure proud of him.
When my son was a baby and couldn’t crawl, all was good. Then he started moving … after the cat … with toys! I had to watch the two of them like hawks. One day, I stepped out of the room for a moment, and, of course, trouble happened.
I was gone for seconds when I heard a distressed cry. I ran back to find my toddler had cornered Furball and was shoving a plastic block at his head. This was one of those moments where I knew the cat would be justified in taking a swipe and I was still five long steps away from grabbing my son.
Then, Furball did the most amazing thing. Instead of swatting my son, he used his front paws to give my son four rapid-fire pats to the chest. My son was startled and began to cry, but when I checked him out, he didn’t have a single scratch on him.
From that moment on, I knew my cat would never hurt my son.
It’s interesting how kids and cats love the same things. This includes the kitchen stool, cardboard boxes, and, of course, cat toys. We used to have quite a few squabbles over sharing. When the cat was in a cardboard box, the kid wanted to play with the box. When the cat was sitting on the kitchen stool, my son wanted the stool.
Usually, my son would howl until I found a cat toy to distract Furball and get him to jump off the box or stool. Of course, we lectured our son about sharing, but it takes a while for a toddler to understand.
One day, the cat was sitting on the kitchen stool and my son wanted to use it. Instead of throwing a fit, he disappeared into the living room and returned with a couch cushion. He held the pillow out and said, "Here Furball, you can sit on this." It was so sweet.
When my son was two, he started having tantrums. Once, he had a meltdown because he couldn’t stick a piece of paper through the slot of his toy mailbox. I had recently read that it was good to sometimes let toddlers work things out on their own. I decided to give it a try. My son got more and more upset and I was about to intervene, when …
It suddenly got very quiet. I peeked my head around the corner, and what I saw amazed me. My son had stopped crying on his own and was petting the cat. He was apologizing to the cat for upsetting him. "Sorry Furball. It’s okay Furball.”
While my son and cat certainly got along fine, they seldom interacted with each other unless I was there. Sometimes my son would seek out Furball for a "cat kiss,” where he ‘d gently extend a finger and Furball would touch it with his nose. Furball, however, never sought out my son. It was like the little boy was accepted, maybe even loved, but never considered one of Furball’s inner circle, until …
We’d just gotten back from a two-week trip. My son ran up to the coffee table to play with toys he hadn’t seen in a long time. While he was facing the coffee table, Furball walked right up to him and gave him the biggest head butt to his butt. It was so forceful and full of love that he actually pushed my son right into the coffee table.
It was then I knew that Furball considered my son to be one of his people. I was so proud.
About Holly Tse: Holly Tse is a green cat expert and lifelong environmentalist. Practicing Taoist, Dragon Spirit Guide and Chinese Reflexologist who has experienced more than nine past lives and can bend reality at will. Totally into alternative healing, but her Achilles’ heel is reality TV cooking shows. As a Canadian expat, she uses an American spell checker for her Catster articles. Check her out at her reflexology website.
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