Musings on(Cat) Parenting

My cat let me down last night. I came home, gave him a rub, fed him, and then walked into the bedroom only to find that he’d left us a present (not in a good way). I took some satisfaction in seeing that  it was very clearly on my husband’s side of the bed (after all, he was the one out of town, not me), but I was still so disappointed that it had come to this.

How could my sweet, cuddly, tabby do this? My little guy wasn’t one of those sneaky, vindictive cats who slink around and glare at anyone who comes near. Cats like that are always plotting and scheming and looking to avenge any perceived slight. My guy didn’t believe in revenge – all he wanted was as much love as possible from everyone he came across.  We realized early on that if we were going to let him outside, he had to have tags that very clearly spelled out our address and phone number, otherwise he could easily be adopted by another family (or two).

Despite the title of this post, I am loathe to call myself a  “Cat Parent” or “Cat Mom”. The terminology kind of creeps me out and brings up all sorts of strange connotations (bestiality anyone?), not to mention that I think it sounds pathetic from someone who is trying hard to conceive (a baby, not a cat). However, that being said I do wonder sometimes if there are elements of the relationship that mimic the parent-child dynamic, and whether it hints at how my husband and I will approach parenting.

Our cat first left us a “present” about a month ago when we came back from a two week holiday (friends were coming by to feed him daily while we were away). Unfortunately we were only home for a short time before having to go away again for a few days, which resulted in more presents. This turn of events brought out the disciplinarian in my husband, who insisted that we kick the cat out of our bedroom. This was tough for me, as our cat had always slept at the foot of our bed, since the first day we got him.  The tough love lasted only a few days, at which point I felt sorry for him, and started letting him back in at night. My husband wasn’t too pleased with our good cop/bad cop role playing but agreed to let me try things my way until the next transgression.

Things were going really well, and I thought we had the problem beat, until this latest present. Standing there, looking at what had appeared on our bed, I had a sense of deja vu – of feeling let down because my trust had been betrayed. I realized that I had felt exactly the same way after my teenaged sister had admitted to me that she’d gotten drunk on my alcohol while visiting with us a few years ago. And I’m sure it’s the same way a parent feels when they find out their child is skipping school, taking drugs, or otherwise lying to them. I may not be a parent yet, but in some small way my furry dependant is preparing me for the real deal.

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