I like to tease my nieces and nephews by telling them that if they’re not nice to me, I’m going to leave my (u-hum) millions to a home for cats. But how far from reality is the stereotype of the childless woman filling her home with feline companions? Do we women really need some small helpless creature to nurture in order to satisfy our natural instincts? I’ve been told by more than one person that instead of having children I should just get a dog instead, and during my time cruising the infertility websites, I came across countless references to fur-babies, the pets we childless women supposedly use to substitute for our offspring.
I have a cat. There, I admit it, but I have a cat because I love cats and I never had a cat growing up, so as soon I had a stable place of my own, I adopted a kitten and I’ve always had one since. Do I treat my cat as a substitute for a child? Of course not; I would never let a child get away with the things my cat does. Carve up my new couch? Climb up on the table during dinner? Throw up on the carpet without making some effort to get to the bathroom? All these actions from a child would deserve some kind of response, ranging from a stiff talking to, to being grounded for a week. But punishing a cat is cruel and pointless. She’s a cat; she’d put back her ears, give me a dirty look, then just go and do it again. But do I talk to her? Do I hold her like a baby? Do I blow raspberries on her stomach? Well, yes, but that doesn’t mean she’s a substitute for a child.
So, do we need to fulfill some in-built need to nurture? Can the need be satisfied with a relationship with an animal? Does nurturing a career or our creativity or a dream suffice? What do you think? Let us know.