Emerson, Cooper, Simon, and Madeline. My first four babies — cat babies, that is. I know. Cat lady over here. Before my daughter was born, I would have never stood up if they were cozy on my lap and I certainly wouldn’t have wondered, “Have I pet you today?” Life is certainly made fuller by the addition of children, but I can’t help feeling some mom guilt when one of our cats rubs against my leg and I have to attend to toddler needs. How do I keep my pets happy when I am busy with my kid?
Experts and pet lovers alike say a lot of the steps are similar to how you juggle multiple children, including making sure to set aside one-on-one time, as well as creating a routine.
“We have a 2-year-old boy and are expecting twins in September — we also have an 18-month-old Labrador retriever named Gus,” Nick Braun of Columbus-based PetInsuranceQuotes.com tells Romper. “Obviously, there’s a lot going on in our house, but it's very important to us that Gus is happy and fulfilled.” Braun says one thing the family does to ensure that happiness is take Gus on daily walks. “No matter what is going on, one of us takes him on a walk,” he says, adding that the couple also makes time for Gus each night after their son has gone to bed.
Caitlin Ultimo, Chewy’s resident pet expert, tells Romper in an email interview that snack time can be a great moment to include pets in everyday activities. That means when you chop up some carrot sticks for your child, you should also prepare a treat for your pet, like Merrick Power Bites for dogs or Greenies Feline Oven Roasted Chicken Flavor Dental Cat Treats for cats. Playtime, Ultimo says, is also a spot where you can do double mommy duty and include pets.
“Pets love playing with their favorite playmate, your kid, the most,” she says, adding that interactive toys can be a great option when children get tired of throwing a tennis ball or dancing around with a feather cat toy. “Of course, some things that are sure to keep your pet happy are easy to provide. Give them tons of cuddle time, attention and affection — just like you would your child — and they’ll pay you back as a best friend for life.”
That’s something I can definitely attest to. Sometimes at the end of the long day, only my kitties will do. Sorry husband. And you know I feel like the best mom ever when I can cuddle up on the couch with a book and glass of wine — this is a completely selfless scenario — and see my four fur kids happily purring next to me. A mom win if I ever did see one.