Sunday, February 28, 2010

Animals and Kids

I've noticed that there are a lot of similarities between pets and children... and no, this is not the start of a really bad joke.  I started thinking about this last night, when we took Argos with us to a friend's house.  He had to learn the rules of their house, which were different than the rules in our house.  First, let me say that it took him only about twenty minutes to figure out that he wasn't allowed in the kitchen or dining room or up on the couch.  Another five minutes after that to realize that yes, we were serious and that he couldn't convince us otherwise.  And then another five minutes after my husband showed up to relearn the lesson.  Not bad for one evening.

But anyway, back to the whole pets and kids thing.  He spent that five minutes testing the boundaries of the rules, very much like a child would if he or she was uncertain of where the boundaries were.  But then, there are other ways in which pets are like kids.

  • They trust.  (At least, if you are doing it right.)  As a child, I unquestioningly trusted my parents.  I might not have agreed with them on everything, but I trusted them.  Argos trusts us, or is learning to.  The cats... they trust us to a point.  They're too independent for the blind trust a dog is willing to give, but do extend a certain amount to us all the same.

  • Jealousy.  Anyone who doesn't think that "sibling rivalry" is alive and well between pets doesn't have a multi-pet household.  It doesn't matter if they normally get along perfectly well, you will see the resentment flare if you give one of them something that the others want, whether that's a saucer of milk, extra attention, or a place next to you on the couch.

  • They can be loud, disruptive, and messy.  Oh, and how!  

  • They will choose to disobey or act out when they have the best audience.  Or in Argos' case, he will wait until we have all eyes on us before deciding to poop in the middle of the sidewalk.  Oi.  :)
But mostly, they are so rewarding...  They are like our children (especially for those of us who don't have any of the human variety) in that they require our care, attention, and love, and are more than happy to reciprocate.  I guess that the main difference between how one raises pets versus children is that the child is "in training" to be a fully functioning adult in our society.  A pet will never be independent, and will depend upon us to take care of them for their entire lives.


  1. Hubby and I like to tell people our cats are better than children 'cos we will never have to send them to college, we can leave them alone for days at a time and no one calls protective services, and if they're bad we can lock them away without feeling too guilty.

    As I type this, the sibling rivalry is alive and well across the room. Our oldest cat Sophie is having a hissing fit at our youngest cat Harry simply bcs she can see him. But I wouldn't trade them for anything.

  2. I know exactly what you mean, about not wanting to trade them for anything! :) I know that some people are horrified when I tell them about our "kids," but I feel the same horror when they tell me their kid stories, so I guess we're even.