Every now and then I run across a post imploring pet parents to stop comparing dogs to babies. I usually give a small chuckle, roll my eyes, and scroll on. Inevitably, about four seconds after I see such a post, one of my four kids needs something from me. I put the phone down, rush off to solve whatever problem they have, and wonder why so many people have this view.
I mean, I get it. Being a parent to a small child is a lot of work. As far as I can tell, kids are a walking self-destruct button and keeping them safe requires constant vigilance. Once you have a child, your entire life is centered around teaching them to be acceptable humans and keeping them alive. Parenthood comes with a lot of responsibility, but it also brings an overwhelming amount of love.
The thing is…stay with me…so do pets.
Now, I know this is an unpopular opinion, but as someone with one human child and three furbabies, I don’t see much difference. This is particularly true if you’re kids are still toddlers.
Similarities between kids and pets.
- You spend a great deal of time keeping them from eating non-food items.
- You spend even more time finding food they’ll willingly eat. This is especially true if your furbaby is a cat.
- If you want to get away for any length of time, you need to find a sitter.
- Play dates are necessary.
- They both destroy your property.
- Finding a form of correction that works is a pain in the you-know-what.
- The unbelievable sense of pride you feel when you finally teach them to obey a simple command.
- They can’t always tell you what’s wrong.
- You can’t help but smile when they fall asleep in your arms.
- Bathtime can be a nightmare and results in more water on the floor than in the tub.
- You have to clean up after they have an accident on your floor. (Potty training, anyone?)
Still not convinced? Here’s the biggest similarity between kids and pets:
You’ll do anything to keep them safe and healthy.
If you’re like me, you love your furbabies just as much as you love your own child. Keeping them fed, healthy, and safe consumes a large portion of your mind.
This is something that struck me when we acquired the newest member of our family, an adorable kitten named Cleo.
When we got her, she was a 9 week old ball of fur. Like any other kitten, she was full of energy. For the first few days, we watched with joy as she batted around her toy mice, hopped from one piece of furniture to another, and attempted to scale the blinds. We’d let her “fight” our hands and giggle as she pounced towards wiggling fingers. She’d play hard for awhile, and then she’d crawl into our laps, purring away as she settled in for a nap. In short, she acted as we all expect a curious kitten to act.
Then, a few days later, she was struck with a mysterious illness.
At night, we put her in the bathroom to keep her safe and to ensure she has easy access to food, water, and her litter box without the oldest critters taking over. We had brought her into our family on a Sunday night, and the following Saturday I woke up and went to the bathroom to check out her. She was sleeping quietly on her pillow, as usual, so I gently picked her up and brought her with me to finish her nap on the couch. She curled up on my lap and continued snoozing, just life as normal.
A few hours later, she was still sleeping. I couldn’t get her to really wake up. When I did, we couldn’t get her to stand. She’d just kind of flop over and cry. The few times she did take a couple steps, she was very unsteady and seemed to be in pain. We couldn’t get her to eat or drink, and we were certain she wasn’t going to make it.
Upon Googling her symptoms, we found that nearly every possible medical issue in cats listed these concerns. We called around until we found a vet who was open on weekends. We ran down her symptoms and the doctor advised us to keep an eye on her, and pretty much said it could be anything.
I spent the next few days feeding her canned cat food, sometimes mixed with pumpkin and water, with a baby spoon. We gave her water with a baby bottle. We administered lots of snuggles. Each day she improved a little more, and finally she was back to normal.
My guess is, this mystery illness was malnourishment or dehydration. Possibly constipation. Now that she’s better, she can get her shots and everything, and hopefully we won’t have to deal with anymore scares!
Now, I tell you all this not only to show how much work can go into being a pet parent, but to give the next example some context.
To further illustrate the similarities between pets and kids, look no further than my willingness to put my own medical issues on the backburner to protect one of my babies.
A few days after Cleo started getting better, she started to jump off the couch. Since she’d been having trouble with coordination, I was sure she was going to get hurt and I lept from my seat to save her, landing on my injured knee. Of course, my husband reminded me to take care of myself, but like all mothers, I put my young above myself.
If that isn’t love and devotion, what is?
So, what is the difference between pets and kids?
The only real difference I can see is that kids talk back, pets don’t.
Well, now that I think about it, my furbabies can be pretty sassy in their own right. They definitely have their own way of talking back. So, let’s try this again.
The only difference is the amount of money you have to spend.
That’s not to say that pets don’t cost a lot of money. There’s vet bills, food, toys, and whatnot. But, kids come with the need for clothes that they outgrow as soon as you buy them, more expensive toys, more food, fees for activities, school supplies, college tuition… Let’s face it, kids are money pits.
In the end, the biggest difference is simply breed.
I may get some flack for saying this, but I love all the members of my family equally. So go ahead and compare your dogs to babies. I won’t judge.
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