When we got back from honeymoon, I issued an ultimatum to my husband; we either got a cat, or had a baby. I was gambling on my then-27-year-old husband being so terrified of procreation that he’d opt for the cat option, and indeed he did.
In fact, he opted for two cats just to make super-sure that I was going to pop a baby out on him any time soon.
And, as if often the way, we convinced ourselves over the course of the next almost three years that raising two elderly cats was the same as raising a baby. Or at least I did; my husband, ever the logical and sensible one, most likely had more of an idea of the fact that babies and cats are quite different, and not just because only one of them has a tail.
But the five months since we had Billy have shown that I wasn’t actually as terribly wrong as I thought I was. Cats actually are quite good preparation for babies, and in more than one way.
They get you used to never going to the bathroom alone
If there’s one thing Sophie cat is known for, it’s her insistence of following everyone to the bathroom. Many a time a visitor has told me that they were trying to take care of business in peace when a little paw appeared under the door and started trying to prise it open. Admittedly, Billy’s motor skills haven’t yet developed to the point where he chases me and demands to be let in, but I hear it’s only a matter of time. Until then, I just have to shower every morning with him lying on the bathroom floor.
You get woken up at 4am because someone’s hungry
Long before I was being woken by a series of escalating snuffles and beeps from the crib next to the bed, I was getting a regular 4am paw to the face. Sure, I now fantasise about a time when I only got woken up once and could resolve the issue by throwing the culprit out of the bedroom and shutting the door (I hear that’s frowned upon with babies), but at least it gave me some idea of what was in store.
No matter how insistent you are that they won’t, they somehow end up in your bed
When the purry girls first came home with us we were adamant that they wouldn’t sleep in our bed. We were very wrong. Our bed quickly became their bed, and going to bed became an elaborate exercise in twisting our limbs around them.
Likewise, Billy was not going to sleep in our bed ever ever ever. But when it’s 5.30am and all the baby wants is a cuddle and all you want is some sleep, your previous good intentions matter not.
You worry about their weight
When you have cats – or at least cats as old, fat, and lazy as ours – the vet tends to get a bit obsessed with them losing weight. Which tends to result in a bit of weight-related anxiety prior to every vet visit. When you have a baby, everyone is concerned with how well they’re gaining weight. Which tends to result in a hell of a lot of weight-related anxiety before every clinic visit, coupled with some tactical feeding and a desperate prayer that they don’t decide to do a massive poonami all over the scales.
Sure, the worrying comes from opposite ends of the weight scale. Literally. But it’s worrying about their weight nonetheless
You find yourself pinned places
My cats like to sit on people. They like it a lot. I think it’s the warmth, and the comfort, and the sheer amounts of attention and stroking they get when they pin someone to the sofa. And babies are the same, except they’re not always so keen on the stroking. A bit of a pat might be about as far as you get. With a cat or a baby on you, though, you find yourself with a lot of time for Netflix. Unless you were stupid enough to sit down without locating the remote first.
Your sofa gets destroyed
With cats, you can guarantee they’ll decide to use the sofa to sharpen their claws. With babies, you can guarantee they’ll do something unspeakable on it.
It’s important this one doesn’t get explained further.
They’re really bloody cute
And given the rest of it, that’s really for the best.