I took an online quiz the other day to determine whether I am a "helicopter parent" to my two young daughters. Helicopter parent is a term used to describe those who hover around their kids, going to great lengths to ensure they’re happy, confident, comfortable, and successful. These parents, however, are often criticized for not allowing their kids to grow, learn, make mistakes, and develop survival skills.
Fortunately for my girls, I scored right in the middle, striking a good balance between “helicopter” and “hands off.” But it got me thinking about my other kids -ÔÇô my cats, Romeo and Pugsley. It’s true, I do take great care in ensuring their happiness and comfort. They definitely do not fit the independent cat stereotype; they rely on me for pretty much everything, and I am all up in their business (and they in mine) 24/7. I wonder … have I coddled them too much?
Here’s some reasons I’m probably a helicopter cat parent:
1. Their food is never cold
We had friends over one Saturday night. The gang was gathered in the kitchen, noshing on chips and drinking wine. I was multitasking ÔÇô- drinking, telling a story, and fixing dinner for the cats. I slid the cats’ plates into the microwave for 12 seconds while chatting away to my pals. I turned around and found the group staring at me.
"Did you just warm up your cats’ food in the microwave?" one friend asked. The whole room burst into laughter. "Well, you know," I tried to explain, "the leftover canned food was in the fridge. I wasn’t really heating it up; just taking the chill off it …" They all just shook their heads. I don’t care. If a little warmth makes my cats’ food taste better, I’ll do it.
2. They’re never thirsty
Most cats don’t get enough water, so when I see my own cats drinking, I’m thrilled. One day, I caught Romeo drinking water out of the tall glass sitting on my desk. That gave me an idea. I started putting out water dishes and cups in strategic spots throughout the house.
The "drink stations" are refilled daily. And when I see a cat taking advantage of one, I’m pleased. Why make them walk all the way downstairs to the kitchen for some water? They have better things to do with their time.
3. I worry about whether they are feeling loved and appreciated
Life gets busy, and it’s easy to run past the cats on my way out the door. When I’m cooking dinner, there’s always a cat underfoot, threatening to trip me while I’m transferring boiling noodles from the stove to the sink to drain, so sometimes they get gently pushed aside with my toe. Sometimes I’ll run upstairs to get something and one of the cats starts to follow me. Before he’s up the stairs, I’m coming back down. He’ll just look at me as if to say, "Dude! I was just coming up there to be with you!"
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rushed past Romeo or Pugsley without a glance, and then realized how rude that was. I usually turn around and come back to give the cat in question some butt scratches. If I feel especially guilty, he’ll get a treat. The boys don’t seem to mind.
4. I don’t play favorites
We have two cat carriers. One is cheap and ugly and the other is an awesome carrier shaped like a bus. When just one cat goes to the vet, he goes in the bus. But when I have to take both cats? Conundrum! Which cat gets the fancy ride? Well, we take turns. That’s right. I keep mental track of who gets to ride in the bus next, lest either of the cats feel slighted. I don’t play favorites.
5. Everyone gets their own spot
In our bed, we sleep cat-human-cat-human. Everyone has his or her own pillow. I’m usually the last in bed, so my pillow has to be turned vertically to squeeze in between everyone else. God forbid one disturbs a sleeping cat. But, truly, it’s a small price to pay. Nothing beats falling asleep between two softly snoring furballs.
6. I catch their prey for them
These cats of mine wouldn’t survive in the wilderness like some of their more street-savvy compadres would. Not only do they eat pre-hunted, pre-killed, and canned meals (heated up), but I deliver those meals four times a day. Yes, four. I think of it as little mini-mouse meals they might get out in the wild throughout the day.
When they do have the rare opportunity to hunt, like when some half-wit spider comes crawling close to the boys, they don’t even lift a paw. They just watch the little guy cross the floor. Probably because they know I’ll swoop in and "escort" the offending arachnid out the door so I don’t have to deal with the mess.
So am I a helicopter cat mom? I suppose so. But I don’t care. I know in my heart that every warmed-up meal, butt scratch, and water station contributes to the loving relationships I have with my cats. So go ahead criticize me for going too far to make my cats happy, confident, comfortable, and successful. When they jump in my lap and fall asleep purring, it’s totally worth it.
Are you a helicopter cat mom?
This post was sponsored by TEMPTATIONS┬« Treats for Cats — Cats Can’t Resist┬«.