I've had pets my whole life. When I was a toddler, our family dog would sleep on my feet every night. My family also had a rat, numerous cats, and even a turtle. I loved animals so much that for the longest time I wanted to be veterinarian. I even brought a cat back home from West Africa when I moved back to the United States. So when I had a family of my own I knew that family would include pets. But now, as a mom of five, I have to admit that I wish my family didn't have pets.
To be clear, I haven't lost my love for animals. And I still love the idea of having a family pet. But having a pet is hard, having a kid is harder, and having both pets and kids is harder still. What was at one time manageable — like cleaning up cat vomit or potty training a puppy or taking your dog on numerous walks — becomes exponentially more difficult to the point it all feels impossible once you throw a few tiny humans into the mix.
As a new mom I quickly realized that there was only so much poop I could handle, from a child or my furry friends. And as a sleep-deprived new mom it took everything in me to remember to water my one remaining house plant, let alone keep multiple animals alive. Then, unfortunately, there were the moments when my pets would wake the baby, leave a pile of vomit on the floor for the toddler to find, or, worse, bite or scratch one of my children. In those moments, having a family pet just seemed absurd.
The worst part of it all, at least in my opinion, is the inability for a new mom with a baby and pets to complain without being judged. The moment I opened my mouth I was shamed for "adopting an animal I didn't have time for," and if you're considering re-homing your pet, well, the internet gods be with you. Like any other part of parenthood, us moms should feel comfortable sharing the not-so-joyful moments of pet ownership. So with that in mind, here's why I really wish we didn't have any family pets:
Because Animals Make Messes
From a fish tank that constantly needs cleaning, to cats who knock over their water dish, vomit on my rug, get litter everywhere, and leave dead mice on the kitchen floor, there's always a pet-related mess to clean up. I have five children, I'm tired AF, and the last thing I need is more messes to clean.
Because Having Pets Is Hard Work
Having pets is hard work. You have to feed them, brush them, bathe them, clean up their poop, and make arrangements for their care when you go out of town. Having pets is like having kids, but you can't put them outside, crate them, or shut them out of your room when they are annoying you. I jest.
Because Having Pets Means I Yell At My Kids
My kids — even the ones who are totally old enough to know better — will not leave our pets alone. They pick our cats up constantly, over-feed our fish, and generally terrorize the animals in the house. I end up yelling at my kids to stop at least once every damn day, and I hate yelling. I hate it.
Because Pets Are Expensive
From food and veterinarian bills to litter, treats, and flea treatments, pets are expensive. My family can afford it, thankfully, but it definitely subtracts fro the amount of money my partner and I could be spending on our kids — or ourselves.
Because Pets Wake The Baby Up
Our cats seem to have a sixth sense about the baby sleeping. They will inevitably sneak into his room before nap time or bedtime, hop in his crib, and wake him up as soon as I start to actually relax and wind down from my day.
Because Pets Get Sick
When your pets get sick they can't tell you where it hurts. You try to comfort them the best you can, but most of the time you are at a loss. So, because you love them, you take them to the veterinarian, who then has to run a ton of tests because they can't communicate with your pet, either. Because our pets aren't covered by health insurance, when they get sick my partner and I are faced with unexpected medical bills, and half the time the vet can't find out what was wrong to begin with. That's not my idea of a good time.
Because Pets Are Annoying
I love my pets, I really do, but they can be so annoying. My cats shed everywhere, chase each other throughout the house, meow all damn day, and try to trip me on the stairs. The fish tank constantly needs cleaning and makes a buzzing sound that keeps me awake at night. Now that I think about it, my pets are really beginning to get on my last nerve.
Because Pets Wake Me Up
I haven't slept well since I was pregnant with my daughter. People, that was a decade ago. This mama needs sleep. Between the fish filter gurgling and a cat clawing at the door, a pet wakes me up nearly every single night. It's almost as if my kids and pets are conspiring against me.
Because Pets Poop
I have way too much poop in my life, people. Between poop-filled diapers, skid marks, kids who forget to flush, a murky fish tank, and multiple litter boxes to clean my life revolves around feces. It's not pleasant.
Because Pets Die
By far, the hardest part of having pets and kids is that when your pet dies your kids — and you — will be devastated. It's so much harder to cope with the loss of a pet when you have to explain death to a child, or try to stay strong to make end-of-life decisions for a beloved friend. I don't even want to think about it. It's way too hard.