Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Substitute children with furry kids?

Noticing so many friends sharing photos of their kittens/cats and dogs on Facebook, there were a lot of moments when I found myself go 'oooo adorable!' or "ahhh, cute!"      Looking at videos on YouTube, with dogs howling, or of cats prancing, certainly lightens my mood.  I started to look into whether I could adopt a cat, specifically out of hypoallergenic cats (i.e. Devon or Cornish Rex, Birman, etc.) I found myself on several cat rescue websites, while wondering where I could put the litter box that the dogs couldn't have access to.

I stopped and realized I was thinking about acquiring another furry kid.  The worst part of the first anniversary's timeline is coming up in less than a week; in which I have already noticed some symptoms re-appearing lately.   Weeping for no reason;  tears in eyes if someone say something unthoughtful, such as "aren't you glad you don't have a kid?" while cleaning a mess after his kid; hypersensitivity to pregnant moms or new moms with babies in their arms; mooning over children books or clothes; and the black cloud above the head.  That tells me that I'm more vulnerable- which comes to the question of furry kids.

I tried to check blogs and Internet articles on whether there is a tendency for childless folks to get furry kids.  I hadn't success-  there's a certain amount of childless and infertile blogs and articles, and that goes for the furry kids....but nothing about *both* at same time.  

With the maternal instincts and the need to take care of something, it's certainly easy to meet that need with furry kids.  We have those dog daycare and schooling, we have pet insurance, Gods know some of us even go out of our ways to dress dogs like babies. Clothing boutiques, no less, to accommodate one's desire to humanize their furry kids.

Gods know that  my dad's family look odd at me when I tell them my dogs have to be with me if more than a few days- you see, Dad's family see dogs for working and hunting purposes, not pleasure or comfort (or forbid the thought, family) purposes. I wasn't like that two years ago. So, you get the idea.
Do we try to transfer love to furry kids-  dogs, cats, horses?  Don't get me wrong, but recalling the book "Falling for Eli" by Nancy Shulins certainly comes in mind.

After realizing that I have kept my dogs close to me since the beginning of the journey ending with the realization that I cannot have children, I found myself confronted with the question:  how would I react to either of the dogs' death?  After all they do not have a long lifetime like us human beings.  Would I want to get another dog after Lola?  Just thinking about it, I am overwhelmed by anxiety and fear.  And would I want to raise a kitten, treat him like a little human baby, and deal with his death when he becomes old or sick?

For now, I'm reinforcing the reminder not to consider adopting any furry kids until well past March, when I'd be less vulnerable.

Readers, have you encountered similar situations like this?  If so, how did you handle this?


  1. Some "anniversary" dates are tougher than others indeed. When it comes to furry friends, I'm a cat person but hubby doesn't want to have any pets, so it's out of the question for us.

    However, I did have a cat once when I still lived with my parents and it was TOUGH when the cat died (actually he wanted to be let out and didn't want to die at home, so we let it out). But that was when I was younger (I was at uni).

    Maybe other people can give more feedback on this matter.

  2. My darling little cat is my fur-baby, for sure, but she isn't a substitute. I got her years before I started TTC and I love her so much that when I was pregnant the first time, I was even momentarily worried that I would be neglecting her when the baby was born. I know that a lot of my friends think that my cat is "instead" but she isn't.
    Not sure if this answers your question, though!!

  3. I have had cats my whole life. I find them to be companions more then anyone else in my life. True I treat them well and make sure they fed, clean, safe and cared for...but I do not treat them as my children or "substitute" children. I had a cat pass away (she was 17) when I was in the middle of discovering my infertility and she was always with me. So when she left...I needed that companionship again...and the space to wait for it was far more painful then the idea of loosing that new kitty in the future. We give love and they give love, that is how I see it. I always endorse an animal companion for it enriches your life.
    I do have friends that are childless (choice and situation) and if they do not have animals of their own, they have one they interact with daily/regularly.
    Did that help?

  4. I read a really good post somewhere the other day about how pets can be great companions, without becoming substitutes for children. If anything, I get annoyed when some family members imply that my pets are substitute children - I love them to death, but I'm certainly aware that they are not humans, and need to be treated as pets ... or there are some behavioural issues to deal with later. There are people who are just naturally inclined to dress up their dogs in quite embarrasing costumes, whether they also happen to have kids or not... (poor pets!)

    I guess we all get attached to cute little furry pets in the same way that some people obsess over their children. But it is possible to have a furry family member without being obsessive, by being aware of how they complement our lives (but are still of the animal kingdom). I guess I've had my two little canines for so long now (8 & 11 yers) that they are the most wonderful companions in my home. I will be devastated when we lose them, I have no doubt. But I know why we have them - 1. to save them from a worse fate (rescue animals) and 2. because we wanted to care for pets and have companions for each other when the other is away a lot (which is both of us). Once you care for animals though, you do lose that extra bit of freedom (if travelling is on the cards for example). Definitely a decision to think over... might be a pro's and con's list moment.

  5. I've been meaning to blog about this as well... many of my childless/free friends, IRL & online, have pets they consider to be "family." Dh & I don't have any pets... I had one dog when I was a pre-schooler, and lots of my friends had pets that I loved, but generally, neither of us grew up with our own pets. For another thing, i am mildly allergic to pet hair. ; ) And (most important reason, probably), we are out of the house 11 hours a day. I just don't think it would be fair to be out of the house & leave a pet by themselves that long. Most of my friends who are pet owners live close to where they work, are retired or work from home, or have spouses who are/do. Maybe when we're retired...!