Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's Debatable

I'm not typically one to start a debate. I'm not typically one to finish a debate, either, for that matter. I was never on the debate team in school. Hell, there are times I can't even answer questions properly regarding how or why I got the results I did on a research project. I don't always think superbly under pressure. However, last night at work, a co-worker said something to me and it made me think. We kind of argued the point, and then abruptly stopped as it hadn't been her intention to spark a debate.

She said that her friend's cat didn't come home, and that her friend was really worried and made the statement, "My cat is like my kid." Or something like that. My co-worker's debate was that if you don't have any kids, then you don't know what it's "like" to have a kid. I see that; it's a valid point.

I disagreed. Just because I don't have kids, doesn't mean I don't completely understand what it's like to have kids. I know what parents go through. Obviously not through firsthand experience.

However, I know that for most pet owners, pets become members of the family. Most equate them to children, seeing as how you pay for them and they never leave home. Most people raise their pets from a few weeks of age to the day they pass away. In some cases, you "own" them from conception. You raise them, you train them, you feed them, in some cases you clothe them; you pour your heart and soul into them, hoping they turn out okay. You take them to the veterinarian for their immunization and booster shots, health checks, and when they get sick. You take them when you travel, and if you can't, you find a "sitter". If they get sick (whether it be cancer, arthritis, colds, etc.) you give them medicines until they get better. You cuddle with them, you coddle them, and you yell at them. You'd ground them if they understood. You take pictures of them and put them on your fridge, your hallway, your office desk, your wallet, and also on Facebook. You tell stories of things they did that were cute, funny, stupid, crazy, or even smelly.

Just like kids. Or crazy Uncle Bob or Aunt Sue. Or that cousin that's 4 times removed.

So, I put this question all of you out there. What are your thoughts on this? If one doesn't have kids, can they believe that their pets are like their "children"? Is it wrong for one to think this? Or is it right? Or is it just plain weird? Or, is it all of the above?


  1. I agree that those of us with pets love and care about them in all the ways you've said; and like you say, those of us who are child-free (another debate right there) can appreciate and understand the parent-child relationship.

    BUT it annoys me if someone says my dog is a 'child-substitute'. No, he really isn't. He isn't 2nd best to having a child; I don't want children. He is a dog who I love *as a dog*.


  2. Here is the thing--yes pets are like children, we groom them,take them to the vet etc... plus they give us comfort.
    However, pets do not need attention all the time, lock the front door and go to work. You do not plan the pets college education. You do not have to change the cats diaper, bathe them nightly. Meet with the pets educators or counselors.
    As a mother, you must continue to keep an eye on their basic needs of food, clothes, shelter, education, attention and safety. This is our priority ALL DAY AND NIGHT 365 DAYS A YEAR.We can not even have a conversation with anyone without thinking about the kids. We can not go to the grocery store without the kids or making sure they are safe with a sitter. We can not even have relations with our spouses without making sure the kids are asleep. There is more to raising a child than a cat or dog.
    Children learn and grow, cats grow and sit on a chair. Dogs chase balls, throw some food in a bowl good to go.
    Their is absolutely no way a pet is a child. Only a mother can answer this and understand the importance of raising a child vs raising a cat.

  3. I don't have any children of my own...nor do I have pets of my own anymore. When growing up we always had dogs, hampsters, rabbits, lizzards, birds, name it we had it. By far the dogs were more a part of our family than any of the others. I loved my childhood dog SO much!

    Here's the thing though...when I think of the passing of one of the kids I nanny for (God forbid) or my niece and then the passing of my parents dog...yeah...NOT the same.

    When I think of a child and a dog/cat in the street and a car coming...I'm going for the kid! When I think of money being tight and only being able to feed a kid or a pet...I'm picking a kid. Pets are pets. Sure we love them and care for them...but they are not human substitutes.

    I have a friend who has a cat and EVERY freaking phone call she takes a break from talking to me to talk to her cat...then tell me in detail what it's doing...I don't give a flying F**k! It's an animal! Now, I'm an animal person...but come on...there is a line!

    Sorry if this is a bit harsh...but it's something that makes me nuts. Sure they are a big part of your life and you bond with them...but they are not kids, humans, or of equal status in my mind.

  4. Totally agree that pets are like kids! Before my daughter we had cats and a dog. Let me tell you I miss them all so very much (the cats died and the dog was given to a loving older couple because she bit my daughter unprovoked).



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