Parents Talk: Can You Be A 'Parent' To A Pet?
As a mother of a tuxedo cat, I think parenting can include more than children.
We adopted our little boy in June 2009. My husband, Corey, and I took him in about 30 hours after we first saw him on the streets of Wenatchee, WA.
He was scrawny and underfed, but he was healthy, according to his doctor.
Yes, we're parents—to a cat. His name is Moxie and he's almost 3 years old.
I realize some people might be offended by the fact that I'm calling myself a parent, considering I have a cat instead of a child. But couples with pets and without children are more common than you might think.
According to a USA Today story about the 2010 U.S. Census, "the share of households with children dropped from 36 percent in 2000 to 33.5 percent a decade later. … There are now more households with dogs (43 million) than children."
I'm not delusional; I know Moxie's not a human being. He's way too furry and independent at his age to confuse him with a child—and he doesn't have opposable thumbs. I doubt too many 3-year-old children love flaked tuna or trout from the can the way Mox does.
No, Moxie isn't a child. When done properly, parenting a child is the most difficult thing a person can do; parenting a pet is tough at times, but nowhere near as all-consuming.
The fact remains that having a pet and having a child have their similarities:
- We get him a "babysitter"—someone to come in and feed him, check his water and play with him a bit—when we go out of town for a few days.
- He whines when I spend too much time working and not enough time playing with him.
- He wakes us up from a dead sleep whenever he feels he needs attention.
- He thrives on habit: same food, same toys, same place to sleep, same daily events. When things change, he gets stressed out.
- We occasionally have to clean up his messes.
- We buy—and have even made—toys for him.
- We have built furniture just for him.
- He has a favorite blanket.
- We feed him and "change" him—his litter box rather than a diaper.
- We have had to "cat-proof" parts of our home.
- He often brightens the day with the little things he does.
Finally, and most importantly, we love him. We worry about what might happen to him and we don't know what we would do without him in our lives.
We know in about 10 to 15 years—maybe even a lot sooner—Moxie will die. When that day comes, we'll be heartbroken. The knowledge of the pain that day will bring cements the feeling that we're his parents.
What do you think?