Today I shall be mostly writing about my cats. Because, you know, there isn’t enough cat stuff on the internet already.
A couple of days ago I heard that Susan Calman on the radio. She has three cats. When asked if she has any children she will reply “Yes, three” and show pictures. She says that the world then divides into two types of people: “Those who smile and comment on how attractive they are and those who say “Those are cats”. [significant pause] I don’t LIKE those people”.
When I first got a cat I was asked by several people whether I thought she was a child substitute. Well, no. Mainly because cats are small, cute, furry, can’t speak English, eat cat food, throw up everywhere at the least excuse, go around on four legs and are toilet trained. Children are small, cute, not furry, can’t speak English, eat cat food only intermittently, throw up everywhere at the least excuse, go around on four legs and are not toilet-trained. You will notice a couple of significant differences in there which will help you to tell the difference between children and cats. The other thing, of course, is that children grow up to become adult human beings whilst cats grow up to become, well, cats. This is a big difference which means that if you have cats as a child substitute and are looking forward to beaming proudly as she graduates or sniffling happily on his wedding day, you are going to be sorely disappointed.
I know my cats are not my children. I know this not just because of all the reasons above but also because if they WERE my children it would not be considered acceptable for them to sleep on the top of the kitchen cabinets. I suspect that social services would not judge me to be a ridiculously indulgent parent because I have put a bed up there for them. The cats do probably use up a bit of my heart that might have been used for children if I had had them. I certainly speak to them often in the same tones and using the same words that my mother used to address me (although I have never shouted at my cats to pick everything up off the floor of their damn room or I’m throwing it all away, I mean it, nor, on days when I felt a bit nervous, did my mother ever ask me if I would like my breakfast on top of the kitchen cabinets).
I would probably have been a terrible mother. I worry ridiculously about the cats, but whereas it is entirely acceptable to keep your cats within the confines of your house and garden it becomes a problem when you try to do it with children. There is no doubt that cats are easier on the career than children; you cannot go out to work leaving a couple of two-year old humans to their own devices for twelve hours and then decide to join your colleagues in the pub rather than going home to give them their tea because, f*ck it, it’s only a couple of hours, they’ll survive. And whilst you may be able to get five-year old kids to go to bed on time by rattling a box of treats out of the back door, I somehow doubt if it would work on teenagers.
There isn’t really a big point to this piece. But that’s fine, it doesn’t have to be all about big points. We also need small things in our lives which make us happy. And my cats make me happy. So that’s all right.