You are in a long term relationship. You are happy and settled. You live together. You may have even bought a house or got married. All is good. Except you aren't quite 'there' yet. 'There' being ready for children. It's likely that you haven't even discussed 'it' yet because that in itself would be implying that you are on your way to 'it'. Instead you and your partner have had a cryptic discussion about having children which results in you buying a cat. It usually sounds something like "I was thinking we could get a cat or something." "Oh yes, a cat. Excellent. Let's do it!". But Captain Subtext is actually saying "I don't really feel ready for children but I'm possibly moving in that direction. I don't want to ignore this altogether so perhaps we should get a couple of cats and see how we do with them." "Holy crap, they wants children! I have got to say yes to the cat before they get bored of the animal idea and go for the real thing instead." And so it begins. Somehow to prepare yourself for children, or at least delay having them, you have ended up with cats. Don't get me wrong, I like a cat as much as the next man (which is a weird saying) but they are not adequate preparation for children. I'll cover just a few points...
1. It is frowned upon to shut your children in the toilet at night
Cats, like children, are certainly dependent on you. They need food, water, shelter etc. And they thrive on your company, especially when they are little. And it's really great. Cats are good company. They do act silly, look cute hiding under things and it's funny seeing them slide across wooden floors chasing a Wotsit. But at night they get really annoying. And after the first few days of them walking over your face or pawing and crying at your door you find somewhere to put them. Kitchens, bathrooms, conservatories, sheds, boxes at the bottom of canals. There are many good options. And when you are up chasing a cat away from your door in the middle of the night wearing just your pants you really don't care where they go as long it is away from you. This is not good preparation for having children. You have to keep babies reasonably close. Ideally in your room to start with. You can't lift the toilet lid, hope for the best and shut them in a bathroom. You have to care for them, find out why they are crying (or sat on your face) and then you have to deal with that issue. Change their nappy, wrap them up warmer, feed them. Now you may think you do this with your cat. But you don't. And if you ever did I'll bet it wasn't for more than a week.
2. People are far more polite about your children than your cat
You love showing people your new kittens. And why not? They are great fun. And your friends will love them too. Well, most of them will. However some people just don't like cats. But that's ok, they tend to be reasonably easy to spot. They won't play with the cat, if it sits on them they will lift it off and put it on the floor, if you talk about your cats too much at work they may change the subject and they don't ever ask you questions about the cats or show much interest in them. And actually most of them will just say something like "I don't really like cats." So that's cool. You just don't push the cats on them. And you remember to be on standby to remove the annoying cat if it gets in the way. What you may not realise is that some people just don't like babies. But they can't tell you this. So they will politely listen to you talk about your baby. They will hold them when you thrust the baby into their arms. What else can they do? And you are thinking that they will tell you if they are uncomfortable or want out. Like your friends did with the cats. Nope. Doesn't work like that. You are pushing your child on people. And it's the cat's fault.
3. Children cost slightly more than cats
So you have paid for a cat. Not huge amounts of money but enough to notice it has gone. Then you head to the pet shop and buy a bed, a carrier, a litter tray, some litter, a collar, food bowls, food and a large selection of toys that they won't play with. You continue with immunisations, spaying/neutering, micro-chipping and pet insurance. If you go away you shell out for a cattery. And one day you find yourself saying to someone, in a very humorous way, that "you need another mortgage to pay for the cat." You don't. When you have a child you will realise that cats have nothing on kids. Everything a child needs costs, really costs. For example you will be a year in to paying for clothes, food, toys etc. and then your child will start walking. You will love it. It's one of those moments that you will never forget. As is your first visit to Clarks... If you manage not to vomit or collapse when they tell you how much the shoes cost then have no option but to buy them. Partly because you want the best for your child and know that it's important for children to wear good quality, well fitting shoes but mainly because it is not socially acceptable at that point to say to the sales assistant "£40? No chance. Shoes are for idiots." As you then allow your child to walk out of the shop into the car park, barefooted, in the snow. And as for the cattery costs so you can go on holiday... well you try and get someone to take your children from you for £9 a day whilst you are off sunning yourself in the Mediterranean.
But don't be downhearted if you are a cat owner and haven't had children yet. I suppose there are some things that cats do that may help prepare you for children. Sometimes they shit on the carpet. Sometimes they piss in the kitchen. And sometimes they stay out all night and come home pregnant...
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