Right after I moved in with the person who would become my first husband, we rescued a tiny kitten. Our veterinarian estimated that she was only about 3 weeks old, so we had to feed her with tiny bottles of kitten formula and teach her how to use the litter box. I remember joking that we were ready to become parents (hint: we weren't). And over the years I've learned that there are actually quite a few signs your pet is trying to tell you you're going to be an amazing parent. You just have to pay attention.
While I think having a so-called "fur-baby" is very different than having an actual human baby, in some ways it's pretty good practice. I like to think that when my cat vomited all over my bed or pooped outside their litter box, they were really just giving me some much-needed experience dealing with gross stuff. And when they cried at night because they were lonely, and wanted to snuggle during thunderstorms, they were just showing me how nurturing and caring I could be. I mean, the love that I have for my cats and my babies pretty much exceeds my love for anyone else. Who else will I let sleep in my bed, steal my covers, and occasionally bite me, without it impacting my love for them? No one. The answer is no one.
In so many ways, my cats taught me how to love unconditionally; a great prerequisite for motherhood, if you ask me. They also told me that I was going to be a great parent.
They Puke On Your Bed
Parenting is gross, y'all. Babies poop all day long, toddlers let snot drip down their noses, preschoolers have potty accidents, and school-aged kids go on bathing strikes and forget to flush the toilet. Gross.
Pets are really good practice for the kind of patience you have to have as a parent. I mean, if you can love a pet after they puke on your bed, voluntarily clean up their poop, and deal with their pet hair, you are going to have a leg up on the parents who have never had to deal with crap like that.
They Snuggle With You
I thought it was so sweet when my cats had to sleep in bed with me at night. All the soft, warm, purring snuggles would make me fall right to sleep. It turns out, baby snuggles have the same impact. My kitties were sending me a sure sign that I am awesome at snuggles, and terrible at kicking them out of my bed.
They Teach You The Importance Of Routines
My cats have totally trained me on their preferred routine. I'm supposed to feed them right away in the morning (usually before I've actually gotten out of bed), and again after dinner when I run the dishwasher. If I don't, they will meow incessantly until I get with the program. Learning their routine, and how to respond to their needs, taught me a lot about parenting. Kids need routines, you guys.
They Break Your Stuff
Pets and kids both have an annoying habit of breaking your stuff. I have lost so many wine glasses and coffee cups over the years, it's a tad sad to think about. But, when a beloved pet or young child breaks your stuff, you learn how to forgive. It's not their fault. They don't know any better.
They Wake You Up In The Middle Of The Night
Your pets know that you can handle sleep deprivation, and miss you at night, so they wake you up at 3:00 a.m for, well, reasons. Clearly you can handle it, and if you can't it will be good practice for the newborn months.
They Dump Their Food On The Floor
It's so frustrating when your cats meow incessantly, because they can see the bottom of their food dish, but refuse to eat the perfectly good food they've dumped on the floor. Sounds like someone else I know, namely my toddler, who will throw his food on the floor then cry because he realizes he actually wanted it.
They Get Sad When You Aren't Around
My cats totally see me as their mom, so they cry when I leave the room or have to leave them to go to work. They showed me just how needed I was and how scary it is when your favorite person leaves and you think they might not come back. Even though I always come back, my cats, and my kids, have all had separation anxiety.
They Sleep In The Baby's Crib
Believe me. I tried everything to deter my cats from sleeping in the baby's crib before they were born. Nothing worked, short of shutting to door, and I often locked them in the nursery by accident They were so comfy in his crib, though, that I knew our nursery was good to go and ready for our baby to get his snuggle on.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.