I have only been married for a little more than a year and our second anniversary is in five months’ time. But it doesn’t stop relatives and friends from asking us the magic (and annoying) question: “When are you having kids?” To be fair, it’s not a crime to ask me that. To be honest, it is a crime to ask me that on every occasion my relatives and friends see me. It is a crime to ask me every time you see me.
And then I recently took in a cat from a friend who rescued him from the streets. He is about four months now, seeing as we’ve only had him for about a month. Weaned off too early from his mother, he still has a tendency to suckle himself to sleep. He found a tender spot on his tummy to suckle on like a baby on a pacifier and kneads whatever that’s in the way of his front paws until he falls asleep. We’re waiting for him to turn six months or perhaps just a little bigger before we send him to the vet for his neutering. And maybe trim his claws a bit. Ouch!
Ever since we’ve got the cat, people have been asking me what it feels like to have a cat, and whether it differs greatly from having a baby. Well… Okay, I’m about to give my opinions here and they are just opinions. If anyone else feels stung by my opinions, I will apologise now. I don’t mean to insult anyone who have kids now, and frankly, I actually respect those who do. Because you are able to make the leap, sacrifice and compromise to have a child. I’m not ready and I don’t think I’ll ever be ready. Having a cat is almost similar to having a baby, but with its differences. Again, these are just my opinions, and what I do with my cat are just preliminary steps my husband and I take due to our current circumstances.
Having a cat has its perks. I like caring for another being, even if it’s just a domesticated animal. I hate to see them prowling the streets in search for food and shelter. I hate to see them turned into roadkill when they try to cross the roads or get lost on their own. At least with me, they have a home. After a long and tiring day at work, I come home to a series of meows (for food and attention, duh!) and the pleading eyes demanding to know why you’ve left him alone all day. Then it’s all fun and games, him dashing around the house, me dashing after him. Him climbing all over the place, me reaching out to take him down. The cat is just as innocent as a newborn child, and it is at this stage that the cat requires as much tender loving care as possible. At least until they’re much older and couldn’t give a damn about you. That’s what some of my cat lover friends said.
To me, having a pet is easier. I used to have hamsters, guinea pigs and a rabbit. And the routine is the same. You feed them daily. You change their water and bedding daily. You pet them, play with them and love them daily. But they can be kept in cages until the next day. We don’t keep our cat in a cage, though. He has a whole room to himself, with his litter box, food and water bowls, a couple of cardboard boxes, his stinky towel, toys and our two bicycles which he climbs on every day.
At the end of the day, we make sure he has enough to eat and enough to drink before we turn in for the night. There are no unearthly wails to wake us up at ungodly hours of the night for breastfeeding or the changing of diapers. There are no long term investments to make to put your cat in to a good education institution. There are no clothes to be bought or tech gadgets needed to entertain them. We consider ourselves lucky to have a cat with simple needs too.
Technically, what I’m trying to say is that with a pet, there are times when we can leave him alone when we need to go away (to work, for dinner, for whatever reason but no longer than 24 hours). If we have to go away for awhile, we’d entrust our cat in the care of my cousin or look for affordable pet hotels. Assuming that one day we are unable to care for the cat, we can always look for new owners who will be able to provide for it. I don’t think one can do that to a baby. You can’t give your child away if you can’t look after him or her. You can’t leave your child in the room for the day and go to work. You can’t ignore your child when he or she starts crying. There are a lot of things one has to consider seriously before wanting to have a child. And there are a lot of things that I cannot give up to have a child. I’m not selfish. I’m just not ready to bring a child into this world. And it’s not a trial period either. It’s either you want, or you don’t want.
To new parents, have been parents, or are going to be parents again, congratulations and may you have a big and happy family!