If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being a parenting editor with two cats, it’s that both motherhood and cat motherhood are real weird. And no, I am not saying that having cats is just like having a child — I know that there’s no comparing the two. Except OK yes, I am going to compare the two for the sake of humor. Because guys? There really are an awful lot of similarities. Here to illustrate my point are two handsome furry gentlemen — Gus (the little white guy) and Miles (the chubster in grey with a heart of gold) — who have been preparing me for the real thing since 2002.
And if you don’t believe me, just ask yourself if any of these signs are true for you.
1. You can’t remember the last time you went to the bathroom without an audience.
If Gus is not watching me from the hallway, he’s sitting by my feet. Or heck, even sitting on my lap. Every. Single. Time. And if I dare close the door? Well, no matter where he was previously, you better believe he will come running just to scratch at the door, cry like a psychopath, and stick one little paw under the crack just to see what he can feel out. Needless to say, I leave it open more often than not.
2. You’re used to them falling asleep in random places.
Like, real random.
3. Someone is telling you they’re starving ALL. THE. TIME.
Hell hath no fury like a toddler who wants a snack. Or a 17-pound cat on a low-carb diet.
4. You’re a pro at doing laundry.
There’s nothing a cat loves more than jumping into a warm, inviting basket of clean laundry the minute you turn your back on it. (And also because once you wear something for 30 seconds in the place where a cat dwells, it will be instantly covered in cat hair and unfit for going out in public.)
5. You are awoken at ungodly hours.
My cats employ various tactics for waking me up (starting at 4 AM). From walking all over my body, to head-butting me in the face, to knocking everything off my desk, to scratching up my carpet until I wake up screaming like a lunatic. Oh! And then there’s the one that proves my mom instincts are so on point it’s ridiculous. I call it “The Stare Down,” where even in the deepest of slumbers, I can FEEL them staring at me. Sometimes they’re right in my face, hot cat breath on my cheek. But sometimes they’re SITTING ON THE FLOOR ACROSS THE ROOM AND I STILL KNOW.
Which brings me to …
6. You’ve been co-sleeping for years — and have the dark circles to prove it.
To all the parents who get woken up with kicks to the face, I feel you. I have four pillows in my bed at all times, but the only one that holds any appeal to Gus is whichever one my head is currently on. And Miles? Well, Miles likes to sleep in the crook of my butt. It’s warm, it’s safe, and it ensures that I do. not. move. all night long.
7. Potty training wasn’t exactly a walk in the park.
When I first adopted Gus at three weeks old, his favorite place to poop was behind my ridiculously heavy and hard-to-move dresser. I tried everything to get him to go in the litter box but he wasn’t having it. That is, until I took him home to Grandma’s house for the weekend and she had him potty trained in a day with barely any trouble. Because, grandmas.
8. Nothing you own is really yours anymore.
“Oh please don’t sit there, that’s Miles’ ottoman” are actual words that I have said to guests. Partially because I know that should they sit on it, they will be so insanely covered in cat hair I will feel mortified. But mainly it’s because what Miles wants, Miles will get — and it’s best to just humor him if you don’t want to find a hairball in your favorite pair of flats later.
9. You have spent a small fortune on them.
When I adopted Gus in college, I thought a cat would be easy — and inexpensive. Nine years later, all I have to say to that is: LOLOLOLOL. From their special diet food for Miles’ hairballs to Gus’ heart condition (which costs a few thousand dollars a year in medication and EKGs), I could have paid off my student loans in full by now with all the money I spend at the vet.
10. You handle feces on a daily basis.
OK so it’s no diaper blowout but cleaning a litter box is kind of the worst and definitely grounds for finding a cat-loving man who will do it for you.
11. You feel extreme guilt whenever you leave the house.
Look. at. that. face.
12. They make it extremely difficult for you to ever get anything done.
Whether I’m on a conference call from home or reading a magazine, everything is a group activity.
13. You have an embarrassing number of photos of them on your phone.
Like, so many it has warranted comments from a far-too-smug Apple Genius.
14. You have a little too much fun dressing them up in ridiculous costumes.
As a parenting editor, I get sent a lot of stuff. Sure, it’s usually meant for a human child. But really, who would let such treasures go to waste?
15. Everything they do feels like the greatest thing anyone has ever done.
Because, well, it is!