A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about my five proudest moments as a kitty and kiddie mom. It got me reminiscing about happy memories, but it also reminded me of some of my more shameful moments.
If you’re a parent to both cats and kids, you know that it isn’t always a land of rainbows and unicorns (it’s more often like cats and dogs). And if you don’t have a human kid, all I ask is that you have some compassion as I share my most shameful moments as a mom.
When I brought the baby home from the hospital, the first week was complete chaos. Furball’s habit of meowing incessantly for two hours before breakfast went from being an annoying habit to one that was threatening the harmony of the entire household.
Because my husband and I were awake in the middle of the night to tend to the baby, Furball’s routine got mixed up and he started meowing randomly at all hours of the night. When getting by on three hours of sleep a day, being woken up by Furball was pure hell. I seriously thought about giving him away. It made me suspect that when people surrendered their cats to the animal shelter because "the baby was allergic," it was really because the parents were at their wit’s end.
Fortunately after six months of not sleeping longer than three hours straight, my son started sleeping through the night…if you count five hours straight as sleeping through the night. It was enough to give Furball a pardon. Now, I’m glad I didn’t listen to my sleep-deprived mind and I kept the cat. What kind of message would I have been sending my son if we gave away a family member just because he was annoying?
Everything I read said that you should give your cat lots of attention when they’re around the new baby. That’s great in theory, but in real life, it isn’t so easy.
Poor Furball was pretty much ignored for the first six weeks of my son’s life and treated like an afterthought for the next six months. Could I have done things differently? Honestly, given the state I was in at the time, I did the best I could. Now I know not to judge people, even those who give up the cat because the baby is "allergic."
There’s a giant baby manual that’s about 1,000 pages long and the size of a phone book.I used to read it religiously to figure out what to do when the baby was crying, gassy, babbling, etc. It was often in the bedroom on my nightstand.
One night, Furball woke me up at 4am and I completely lost it. Out of exasperation, I hurled the baby manual against the door. It made a huge crashing sound, left a giant smudge where it struck the door, and it completely startled my husband awake.
The cat was blissfully quiet for about 30 seconds.
I used to watch the cat and baby like a hawk whenever they were in the same room together. That changed as my son grew older. When he was about 2 1/2, he went through a phase where he was scared to walk by Furball whenever the cat was meowing for dinner. My son would start freaking, the cat would step up the whining and at the end of the day of a really long week, I was tired of being the mediator.
I said, "Furball, it’s not time for dinner yet." Then, I told my son if he wanted to walk past the cat, he had plenty of room and that Mommy was going to use the bathroom. Then, I disappeared upstairs for five minutes of silence.
When I came back down, the cat was still meowing for dinner, but my son had obviously figured out how to walk past the cat. Everybody was fine and I mentally noted that disappearing to the bathroom was a great way to get some "me time."
We have a lot of friends with young children. I tell them that the cat doesn’t like to be petted and will scratch if you touch him. This isn’t true, but it’s a lot easier than explaining that Furball finds it threatening if you reach your hand over his head to pet him. Most adults, including the cat sitter, don’t seem to get this, so I don’t bother trying to explain this to little kids.
Sometimes, I feel bad telling people that Furball isn’t friendly because he’s super friendly and I know he must understand me. However, I’ve witnessed how one pat can quickly transform into a tail grab. Thus, for Furball’s safety, I tell everyone not to pet him. I give him extra pets later.
Despite all the ups and downs of being a mom to both a cat and a kid, I realize we’re just like any other family. Nobody’s perfect but our home is always filled with love.
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 Chinese reflexology website.