I do not want to physically birth children and have chosen to be child-free. This seems to be a harsh and almost impossible concept for many people to understand or respect. There is always the “Oh, you will change your mind. You still have time” and the “Who will take care of you someday?” Let’s not forget “But you would make such cute babies!”
To those individuals I like to say that I do have children; my kids are cats. They give me the ability to be maternal, they are expensive enough, and they definitely have given me grey hairs. All three cats were adopted from HSNEI, a local animal rescue organization, which makes them even more special to me.
People think I’m nuts for having three cats, not just the fact I consider them my kids or family. Those close to me know that I think very highly of them and put their needs first. I dictate everything that happens in their lives: food, enrichment, vet visits, and social interaction. I was thrilled that my cats took to my partner so well; I was honest with him from the start, if they didn’t accept him into the fold then there wouldn’t have been an “us.” When my partner and I discussed moving into a new place, we knew that we would not go anywhere that wouldn’t allow my cats.
Everyone who meets my cats are always thrilled and amazed with how healthy and happy they look. They also have very distinct personalities.
Cordelia Joy is very much a “mama’s girl” and has little to do with other people. She loves to smell feet, particularly those of the male variety. She isn’t a fan of cuddles but will usually let me pick her up and hug her for a few moments. She’s a fan of chin and head scratches and absolutely loves butt pats.
Phoebe Layne is somewhat shy but loves to love up with you once comfortable. If there is a male around, she will often choose to spend quality time with them than with me. She likes to take part in my stationary trainer rides by sitting on my shoulders. She obsessively plays with any kind of chaser toy.
Sir Alistar Figaro Newton is the little man of the house and very much a “mama’s boy” but is proving to find himself spending more quality time with my partner, Travis. Figaro has a voracious appetite for food and I often have to stand guard during feeding times to prevent him from stealing from other bowls. Figaro is short, stubby, and looks like a perpetual kitten; everyone loves his charming face and sweetie pie personality.
My cats are not the same responsibility level as human children but I will argue tooth and nail to say that they take a lot of responsibility. I need to keep quality food on hand to prevent them from having digestive issues. I have to make sure that my house is essentially “cat proof” and that dangerous items accessible to them. I have to make sure that the litter boxes are cleaned regularly to prevent avoidance issues. I also trim their claws regularly to keep them from snagging carpet, skin, or clothes. I also can say I have never had inappropriate scratching issues; cat scratching posts and a large cat tree help. That just scratches the surface of what I do on a regular basis to keep them happy and healthy.
I love my cats with all my heart and they are not only my animal companions but my “kids.” Rather than saving up for college funds I will be saving up for teeth cleanings or any vet-type emergency. Instead of helping them buy a car, I’ll be investing hundreds of dollars on cat food and litter every year. One might ask what I get out of it and I would say that I have simple love and companionship along with a few laughs thrown in for good measure.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.