Different, How?

I’m going to delvge into a little bit of a taboo subject here and hope nobody throws anything at me.

I was talking with a coworker of mine who is childfree like me (although she has 3 dogs, just recently lost one) and we were talking about how much work a pet can be.

keeping an eye on him

Me: I’ve been saying forever, if my cats are this much work I can’t imagine how much work kids would be.
Coworker: Why?
Me: Why what?
Coworker: Why would kids be any more work?

I see the obvious logistics of this. Kids require more attention, more care, and more of just about everything. A cat or dog you can leave at home all day but a kid has to be taken care of by someone at all times. You can just leave food out for a pet but a kid needs their food prepared and cut up or whatever. A kid needs an edjucation, a cat or dog pretty much stays the way they are from birth.

The one thing I wonder if it’s really all that much different is the love and devotion you feel for a child, is it that much different with a pet? Some might say oh but your child is a piece of you but then is adopting a child less somehow?

The worry I’ve had towards my furkids has been torturous at times. When one of them doesn’t come home at night or gets injured, I swear I can feel my heart falling into pieces. The other night I saw a raccoon outside (we have a lot of wild animals) and Pilot didn’t come home when he usually does. I was in a complete state of panic, I couldn’t think straight and I couldn’t calm down. I kept going to the door to call him and I kept looking outside to see if he was at the door waiting. Until he came home I couldn’t rest.

One time Aurora didn’t come home, which absolutely never happens so I knew something was very wrong. Normally she lounges outside on the back or front porch, that’s about all she does. I barely slept that night, I kept getting up to see if she was at the door. I was so worried I thought my heart would stop dead. Before work I decided to go outside and low and behold I saw her in the driveway and she was limping.

When my little boy Keyser was killed by a car I never felt so much pain in my entire life, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t deal with it. When I saw him in the road I fell into a million pieces. It took me forever to come to terms with it and thinking about him still makes me sad.

But when Pilot snuggles up on my chest to take a nap or when Aurora looks at me with those big green eyes the love washes over me. I can’t ever hug them enough or make them happy enough. No matter how much they piss me off or annoy me I can’t help but love them.

Is that really so different?


  1. bubblewench

    July 9, 2009 at 9:39 am

    I have to agree with you across the board here. We have 5 cats and I’d be devestated if anything happened to any one of them. When they don’t come in at night, I don’t sleep, keep checking for them. Even during the afternoon when I’m home, I always check on them if they are outside.

    I don’t want kids, and while I feel that the love you can have for a pet, can be as intense as the love for a child, I do agree that the pets are a hell of a lot easier to take care of, and stil have the same special place in your heart.

    I like this post. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Robin

      July 9, 2009 at 5:29 pm

      @bubblewench, Glad I’m not the only one.

  2. metalmom

    July 9, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Anyone who would say that a pet is different from a child is an ass.

    I have three kids. Each one is an individual. But I got up in the middle of the night with each. I have fed them and taught them the way to behave.I have given them unconditional love.

    I have had an iguana who believe it or not was my companion for 8years.We spent time outdoors and indoors. I now have a Boston terrier named Bandit and as Bubblewench can verify, when we were on vacation, I talked to him every night and morning on the phone. I feed him, I get up with him in the middle of the night and I taught him how to behave.

    If you ask me, human children are FAR MORE work and aggravation. At least a pet won’t abandon you, talk back or ask you for a handout. I won’t be buying Bandit a Wii, iPhone or a laptop anytime soon.

    Robin, I have always respected those who don’t choose to have children and I have very little time for anyone who would disrespect the choice that YOU make for YOURSELF.

    1. Robin

      July 9, 2009 at 5:30 pm

      @metalmom, agreed, great to hear from someone who is a parent of the human kind of children šŸ˜‰

  3. Maureen

    July 9, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    I sure that it’s much different for everyone. In fact, when I brought our dog to a new vet once, they had a questionnaire that they asked everyone to fill out before seeing the doctor. One of the questions was something like “How do you view your relationship with your pet?”. The answers were multiple choice, with a wide variety of choices: My pet is… “A member of the family”, “My child”, “An animal companion”, “An animal that we care for”, “My best friend”, etc. So, that vet knew that there were many answers to the question!

    In our family, the pets are pets. I’m pretty sure that’s how I saw them before I had children, too. I am intrigued by them. I am honored to have them in my life. I am responsible for their safety, training and well-being. I want them to be comfortable, safe, happy. They entertain me. I find their mannerisms interesting & their behaviors fascinating. I am sad for them when they are ill. I cry when they pass & feel their life missing from mine.

    And, god knows I love having pets in my life šŸ™‚ Right now we’ve got 5 cats, 2 dogs, 1 fish, 1 frog, an ant farm -and- 1 foster german shepherd puppy, 1 foster mommy beagle & her 2 6-week old pups. Additionally, I’ve been vegetarian for over 20 years now – because I believe that an animal’s life is just as valuable as a human life.

    But, for me, anyway, the responsibility & love that I feel for the people and children in my life, for my human family, cannot even compare to the pleasure & challenges that pets bring to my life. Pets are wonderful additions to our family and we love them, care for them, appreciate them, but, for me, they are still pets – animals who live with us.

    Caring for & raising children, taking them from infant to adult, hoping I remember everything I want to teach them, then letting them go on to live their own adult lives, to me, is infinitely more complex and (again, for me) more interesting & fulfilling, than feeding, caring for and even getting to know a pet in my life.

    And, you know that I think that people should do what feels best for their life, not for mine šŸ™‚ If you have a stronger relationship with your pets than I do, that’s fine with me! And, if you don’t want to have children, then I think it’s great that you don’t. Why waste your life doing things you don’t want to do, if you don’t have to do them?

    1. Robin

      July 9, 2009 at 5:31 pm

      @Maureen, I think I stated that obviously raising children is different than raising pets, there is a lot more effort involved, I understand that. I was speaking on an emotional level, that I can suffer and love my cats as much as someone can with their children. That was what I meant.

      1. Maureen

        July 9, 2009 at 6:04 pm

        @Robin, Oh, yeah, I don’t doubt that some people do feel that strongly about their pets. I don’t think that I do, though. I’ve had many pets over the course of my life & lost many of them as well, to natural deaths, diseases, being lost, etc. And, that’s sad, for sure.

        Years later, I still have fond memories of them & remember feeling sad as they left my life.

        But, I’ve also lost a 17yo niece and her 10mo baby in a car accident a few years ago. And, that ache is nothing at all like that of a lost pet. The life cut short so young seems so much more tragic than the ending of a pets life, either naturally of old age or prematurely due to an accident.

        And, I’ve had pets go missing before & worried for them. But, never as much as I think I’d worry if the same thing happened to a child of mine (or even as much as I worry, still, remembering how the bad man was trying to get my daughter to go in his truck with him 2 years ago, when she was riding her bike out front).

        For me, anyway, it’s much different. I don’t doubt that for some pet owners, though, the feeling is just the same. Perhaps it’s telling of a lack of something in me that pets, while important, lovable, valuable are somehow expected to come & go in our lives, to flow in & out, to just pass through. Kids seem, somehow, more permanent (again, this is *to me*).

        1. Maureen

          July 9, 2009 at 6:46 pm

          @Maureen, Just read through the other comments and, maybe, it’s that pets *could* exist without me, that leaves me not as worried about them as I am about my children. They could wander off & find a new home, live off the land, become street animals. I am a convenience for them, a luxury – they don’t *need* me – at least not as much as a child does.

        2. Robin

          July 9, 2009 at 6:59 pm

          @Maureen, Maybe that is it, I mean it’s obviously different for everyone. There are people who treat their own children worse than some treat pets that they don’t care about. It’s all about what they mean to you and what they bring into your life. For me, I’m not sure kids would be a good fit for me, probably because they are too much. With my cats they need me and they love me and they make me smile and laugh but it’s never too much, I get my space too.

  4. Hannah

    July 9, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    I feel the exact same way as you-I adore my pets, think of them as my ‘children’ and often wonder how people find the time and energy to take care of a human child, who are even more demanding.

    1. Robin

      July 9, 2009 at 5:31 pm

      @Hannah, It astounds me, I can’t even imagine.

  5. Avitable

    July 9, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    I agree with you, too.

    1. Robin

      July 9, 2009 at 5:32 pm

      @Avitable, well that’s a first šŸ˜‰

  6. Tug

    July 9, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    I totally see what you’re saying, and the only difference I can see from what you said is this: If that were a child missing, would you have been ‘not sleeping’ at home, or out with a search party, flashlights & helicopters?

    But yes, pets are wonderful and do become part of the family for sure.

    1. Robin

      July 9, 2009 at 5:41 pm

      @Tug, You have a valid point but I did say that pets and children have obvious differences. A big difference is that a kid can have some common sense where a cat is more instinctual. A cat will wander outside into the woods, they could be miles out into the woods. Sadly if my cats don’t come inside there is little I can do. I could go walking around the woods with a flashlight but I know if he hasn’t come in that he either doesn’t want to come in yet (so looking for him would be fruitless as he’d just keep running further away) or that he can’t come home. It’s maybe even more nervewracking because there is nothing you can do but wait.

      1. Tug

        July 9, 2009 at 10:37 pm

        @Robin, I basically answered the title of the post. Different, how?

        I do agree, like I said before, that pets are part of the family, but I have to disagree with the last statement in your reply that it’s maybe even more nervewracking. No matter whether there’s nothing you can do but wait or not, I truly believe that a child missing or not coming home at night would be more nervewracking than a pet of any kind not coming home. My opinion.

        1. Robin

          July 10, 2009 at 7:47 am

          @Tug, Sorry, I hope I didn’t upset you. This is just where I am coming from in this, not that I would know both sides anyway and probably never will. My title was misleading, it’s where the post started but I went another direction. Damn titles.

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