A Mother’s Day Moment For Pet Parents: What We’d Tell Our Critters if We Could

Say What?

Say What?

You know those annoying people who think of their pets as children? The ones who joke that we should be able to claim our furry family members as dependents because dammit, vet bills are expensive?

I’m one of them.

I don’t have human kids, so I’m also the first to admit that I don’t know the trials and tribulations of parenting a child. But my Mom does. She’s been stuck with me for almost 42 years. And like me, she has always considered the four-leggers she brought into our home members of our family. Over the years, she’s referred to the many dogs she has loved and raised as “her good kids.”

Really, Mom? One ate your socks and required surgery because they got stuck in his intestines. Another got into the Crisco and flour and left big white turd ornaments on our lawn for a week. And another thinks the best way to tell you he loves you is to bring you a dead critter now and then.

All I ever did was throw the occasional teenage temper tantrum and sneak cigarettes and beer. Oh, and there was that hole in the wall that I covered with the Ozzy poster. But those were tough years. I’ve mellowed out since then, and the dogs still bring you dead things from time to time.

In all seriousness, I totally agree with my Mom about the joy pets bring to our lives, and the care we owe them in return. Because I don’t want to offend human parents out there, I’ll refrain from a long comparison of critter care and child-rearing.

But I will tell you this. One of the struggles of parenting four-leggers is that animals never learn to talk. My cat Sylvester will never tell me in words what he is thinking, and I can’t teach him life lessons through quiet conversations.

There are moments I’d love to know what he’s thinking. And even more moments when I’d love to tell him a few things that would make our lives ever so much easier. A mom can tell her son to take a shower because girls won’t like boys with dirty fingernails and stinky feet. She can tell her daughter that she can only spend hours texting AFTER she cleans her room and does her homework, because some things in life are more important than her best friend finding the perfect nose ring at the mall.

Unfortunately for me, there are some things I just haven’t figured out how to share with Sly through our language of meows and baby talk and head butts. Some may find my decision to share my cat-parenting woes the week of Mother’s Day to be in poor taste. But since it was my mom who first showed me the joy of owning and being owned by animals, I consider it perfect timing. So here they are.

My Dearest “Fat Boy,”

There are some things I wish you’d learn along the way to make both our lives easier.  Please give these some thought as you go about your busy days of eating, sleeping, meowing, rolling on the floor, leaving me prizes in the litter box and chasing random objects.

1. Before you leap up into that window where the ledge is barely big enough for your fluffy oversized butt, check out whether it is open or shut. This will save you many embarrassing tumbles and bonks in the head.

2. I love our snuggle time. But when you see that I have just eaten a meal that would make Larry the Cable Guy proud, wait a while before insisting on lying on my belly.

3. Along the same lines, I know you’re just trying to help. But those tummy-kneading sessions do NOT help much when I’ve got a stomach bug.

4. Because I love you, I will never, ever let you go hungry. But it will take me a lot longer to get food in your bowl if you cause me bodily harm by weaving around my legs when I stumble blindly and clumsily out of bed and to the coffee pot.

5. Speaking of eating, you’ll be a lot less likely to have those unpleasant yakking sessions if you slow down and chew your food. And I wouldn’t mind cleaning up less puke.

6. I want to spend time with you too. But there are some things a woman prefers to do in private. Peeing is one of those things.

7. You are always welcome to share my bed. But I’d really prefer not waking up with your butthole in my face.

8. When you head-butt my Kindle, it makes me kinda seasick.

9. I know that dead bug is a point of pride for you. Don’t take it personally when my initial reaction is to squeal or say “ewwww.” I realize you are a skilled and accomplished hunter and have yet again saved me from some creepy crawly thing.

10. I know you think you’re the man. I do too. But please remember that those outdoor cats you like to taunt from the safety of the window are street smart and you are sheltered and spoiled rotten. If you ever actually got out there to play with them, they’d kick your butt.

I know I’m not alone in wishing I could say this things to my little dude. What would you tell YOUR furry family member?

Oh, and by the way, Happy Mother’s Day to all of your nurturers out there. You make the world a brighter place for humans and animals alike!


About hawleywood40

Writer, Steelers Fan in Baltimore, Frequent Visitor to the Shot Fairy
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18 Responses to A Mother’s Day Moment For Pet Parents: What We’d Tell Our Critters if We Could

  1. l'empress says:

    Are you sure you want to know what he is thinking? Most of those darned cats think they’re so much better than us. (Except for our Ricky, who was so dumb it was endearing.)

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Ricky sounds adorable – I would LOVE to hang out with a cat who didn’t think he knew more than me : ). You’re probably right about not wanting to know everything he’s thinking. Then again, it might give me some good quotes for when I have a need to come off as a cocky smartass : ).

  2. Stacy Green says:

    Love this! Makes me miss my kitties (had to rehome them several years ago because of severe allergies). I have a six-year-old and three dogs, and half the time I can’t tell the difference. Someone always needs medicine for something, someone is always hungry or trying to crawl into my lap, and someone’s always nagging for my attention. Never a dull moment:)

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Definitely sounds like there’s never a dull moment, and that I’m not totally off-base about the similarities of child and pet-rearing : ). I miss having dogs, we always had one if not two when I was growing up, and then when I moved out I had my Stacy-dog for 14 years. I didn’t get another one after she died because I felt too much guilt about the crazy hours the then-hubby and I worked and the dog being left home alone. Now, even though my situation has improved some in that respect, I think Sly would hate me forever if I brought home a puppy one day : ).

  3. Sweet and funny post. I’ve told Scrappy everything I’ve wanted to tell him. He asked me not to share. 😉

    And I had a pet who did talk back–my Triton Cockatoo, Reggie. He didn’t just mimic, he conversed. I’d say, “Hi Joe!” And he would cock his head 90 degree and say “I’m Reggie.” When I was in the kitchen, he would say, “Reggie hungry.” At night, “Reggie go night night.” At random, he would walk across his cage to be near me and say, “I love you” and put his head by the bars so I could scratch his cheek. I can give more examples, but you can see that having a pet like that was different than anything I ever experienced. Jeez I miss that guy…

    • hawleywood40 says:

      I would LOVE to have a cockatoo one day! Reggie sounds awesome! I never had a talking bird. My mom has a parrot who mimics the dogs and the voice tones of various people, but she doesn’t talk. But there was a cockatoo at the nearby zoo we used to go to a lot when I was growing up who would tell my dad “brush your teeth.” This happened at least twice, and he’d look right at my dad – never any of the rest of my family or the other people wandering around. It was hilarious! The image of Reggie telling you he loved you and scooting over for scratches is priceless!

      • When he died, I grieved like would for a child. I never experienced anything like that. Cockatoos are crazy and lovable. But they are also a lot of work.

        I’ll never have another one. Reggie was enough.

      • hawleywood40 says:

        I can only imagine how sad it was to lose Reggie. We just made a similar decision (about not having any more) regarding ferrets. Its just too hard to go through losing them after their way-too-short life spans : (

  4. Ter says:

    You need a like button on here! Love this post!

  5. Love this post!! Thank you so much for sharing! The hubs and I are very much parents to our unruly and spoiled rotten cat! 😉

    I’m going to print this out and add three more of my own for my little one, Dusty:
    -To go with the kneeding and sitting on the belly, it’d be great if you didn’t do that first thing in the morning before a trip to the bathroom.
    -Also it’d be nice if you didn’t come outta no where and jump on the back of my computer chair when I’m in the middle of writing a serious and/or emotional scene.
    -And one last thing: I’d like you to remember that I am not daddy. When I play with you, I play nice – which means no attacking of the hand and chewing on my arm. There’s a reason why your father does that and not me.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Thanks for coming by Melinda! I so agree with all 3 of these! Now that I do most of my writing curled up somewhere with my laptop, I had forgotten about the “computer chair surprise.” But Sly used to get me with it ALL the time when I was using my desktop and always at my computer chair. And the Daddy thing is so true too. Lee and Sly play and rough-house. I’m the snuggler. Sometimes Sly gets confused : ).

  6. Terri Sonoda says:

    OH! I just Loved this! I don’t have pets right now, but I miss my cat Simon soooo much! I had to give her up after my partner suffered a massive stroke. She kept jumping in my partner’s path and it was dangerous for both of them. It’s been three years and we’re thinking of a kitten. A little orange tabby would certainly make me smile from ear to ear. Ah, now I’m in a good mood! Thank you Pamela! Hugggsss

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Awww … sounds like there’s going to be an orange furball in your not-so-distant future : ). I know what you mean about having to give up Simon though – cats have a habit of sneaking right under your feet! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost tripped over Sly and landed on my arse in the mornings so I can only imagine how one would be if you had mobility issues! Hugs back atcha!

  7. We’re catless for the first time in 32 years. It’s been really hard, but we’ve made the decision not to bring another one home. It’s a 15-20 year committment and Herbie, our parrot from hell, already takes up a lot of time.
    Your comment #7 is the best. We had a cat we named Bif, (stands for butt in the face) because that’s what she did.
    I don’t think it matters if your children are 2 legged or 4 legged.
    Happy Mother’s Day!

  8. akamonsoon says:

    Great post Pam! I’d tell Abby that the gig is up. I know she sleeps on the couch while I’m at work. There’s the usual tell-tale signs of paw prints and white fur ingrained into the micro-fiber material.

    I hope you are doing well, my friend. 🙂

    • hawleywood40 says:

      They just don’t realize that the fur gives them up every time, do they? I’m sitting in my office and just looked down and noticed a few little black hairs on my shirt – a sure sign that Sylvester took a snooze on the fresh-out-of-the-dryer laundry stack while I wasn’t looking : ). I’m doing well, and hope you are too – will catch up in a longer note soon!

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