When parenthood turns your pets into pests

Filed under: Pets

dog and babyBefore I was a parent, I was a pet lover. In addition to the two cats that I had brought into our relationship, my husband and I also adopted a dog and another cat. The menagerie was totally manageable... then our kids were born. In an instant, they went from being four-legged kids to pets, a distinction they couldn't help but notice. And not only did I not have time to give them the attention they were used to, suddenly they were in the way and underfoot.

One cat had an uncanny knack for walking into the nursery just as the baby was falling asleep and letting out a very purposeful yowl that never failed to wake a child up. Another would hide under the crib, unbeknown to me, then cry to be let out of the room 30 minutes into the nap (and therefore ending it). The dog barked at the kids playing ball in the street, the mailman, the air. And I spent far too much time dealing with their hair and bodily fluids. I was infuriated with them for months.

We never seriously considered giving any of them away, though I worried they were taking years off of my life. But I daydreamed about it on more than one occasion. That's why this essay Take My Pets, Please really hit home for me. I'm wondering if this is a common phenomenon, this pets to pests transformation that takes place when kids enter the picture.


It all changed for us earlier this month when our elderly cat died. Our other animals are enjoying a new resurgence in affection. My five-year-old especially has taken a new interest in them, taking time every day to pet and play with each one (except our youngest cat, who we call The Boarder. We are simply scenery to him, I believe). I suppose it's the whole "don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" thing. We do love our pets, even when they make us wonder why.

Did parenthood change the way you felt about your pets?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.