I like cats and dogs.  Let me just put that out there.  

Some of you still may want to pummel me with smoked piggy ears or the little plastic shovel you use to scoop up kitty crap.  That’s okay. I have good reflexes and thick skin…but I also have an opinion: 

Your fur baby isn’t a real baby.  

My husband and I recently hosted a party at our house. I love parties, mostly because the last minute pressure to clean, transforming my house into less of a plastic toy infested train wreck puts my anxiety into high gear and…well, who doesn’t enjoy that?  

I invited a handful of friends who knew each other well enough to get through three-ish hours of small talk with minimal awkwardness, made a trip to Costco and voila – instant party hostess. I uncorked the wine so it could breathe (I’m fancy like that), shoved all of the shit I didn’t want people to see in the upstairs closet, and waited for my guests to arrive. That last thing translates into having a class of cab from the good bottle that I don’t share with anyone. Sorry-not-sorry.  

Then I got the call: 

“Do you mind if I bring my dog?” 

The question was asked by a work friend. I knew her well enough to know she was a dog person. I’ll go ahead and say weird dog person since we’d once had an entire conversation about her dog’s opinion on her new window treatments. There was a lot of smiling and nodding on my part because really, what do you say to that?  But who effing knows? Maybe her dog really does have feelings about the draperies and she was otherwise a cool person. Nice enough for me to want to invite to my house to drink my wine and stuff.     

“Actually, I do mind,” was my answer. “We’re a pet-free home.”

“But you’re letting people bring their kids, right?”  

Okay, getting awkward. 

“Yes, a few people are bringing kids,” was my answer.  

“My dog is my child. So why can’t I bring her?”  

I appreciate that people love their pets. Growing up, we always had dogs and a crap ton of cats that hung out in our yard. Up until a year ago, my family always had a pet. When our beloved cranky asshole of a cat died last year, we decided to take a break from having a pet in the family. Eventually, we’ll probably get another but for right now I’m enjoying the respite from cleaning up animal shit. And cat hair. And stepping on stray granules of cat litter that those little paws manage to track all over the house. 

I appreciate that people have varying degrees of attachment to their pets, their “fur babies.” Pets are members of the family. I get it. If you want to spend half your paycheck on organic doggie chow and spring for kitty behavior modification therapy, fine by me. If you want to let your dog sleep in your bed or let your cat roam around on your countertop, rock on, although if you permit that cat on the counters thing, I will never eat at your house. Ew. 

Your fur baby isn’t a real baby. 

As much as we might love our animals, they are not people. And although there might be some uncanny similarities between your 9-year-old dog and my 4-year-old kid, animals don’t think or behave the same way that people do. To assume that’s true is both foolish and unsafe. 

Being a “pet parent” doesn’t come with the same level of responsibility. If we chained our kids up in the backyard or shoved them in a crate when we went off to work, we’d go to jail.  

In most cases, children eventually leave home. We spend most of their growing years teaching them the skills they’ll need to adult and helping them map out their futures. Sure, we teach our pets important stuff, like how to catch a Frisbee and not pee on the carpets, but most of us have loftier expectations of our human kids, right? 

I’m not questioning any pet owner’s love or level of commitment. My friend’s motivation for wanting to bring her dog to my party?  It was too hot outside for her little doggie darling to stay in the yard for an extended period of time and she’d been in the crate all day.

I gave props for responsible pet ownership…but I still said no to the furball hanging out at my house, and that’s my prerogative. I’m sure there are a fair amount of places that my very loud, sticky children would be just as unwelcome.

She didn’t come to my party and was frosty to me after that, which made me a little sad, mostly because I had to hear about her crazy-ass pet stories second-hand, like the one about the time she dressed her dog up as Marie Antoinette.  

For those of you out there that call yourself “pet parents”, do your thing. Be who makes you happy. But don’t expect me to buy that the level of love and responsibility is the same as parenting a human child…because it just isn’t.  

Fur babies aren’t real babies.

And, for the love of all that is holy, please tell your cat to stop sending me friend requests on Facebook. 

That’s just weird.

Author

Jill writes about adoption, motherhood and midlife on her blog Ripped Jeans and Bifocals. She has a degree in social psychology that she uses to try and make sense out of the behavior of her husband and three children but it hasn't really helped so far. She enjoys dry humor and has a love/hate relationship with running. Her writing has also been featured on Huffington Post, Babble, Scary Mommy, In the Powder Room, and Mamalode. Jill is a BlogHer 2015 Voice of the Year and willingly answers any questions that end with “and would you like wine with that?” Hang out with Jill on Facebook. and Twitter.

34 Comments

  1. It cracks me up that her first reaction to your “pet free home” answer is, “But you’re letting people bring their kids, right?”

    Just… wow.

    I’ve never understood people who have to bring their dogs with them everywhere. My brother does that and it drives me nuts – he can’t let them into my house because *my* dogs live there, so instead he leaves them tied up outside (or in the car with the windows cracked) so they can drive my dogs crazy the entire time. WTF?

    • Michelle C Talbert Reply

      I actually hate babies. They are nowhere near as cute as dogs and cats; not even close to kittens and puppies. You love babies because you are a weird, hormonal primate and are driven that way. Thank god for pets.

    • That was my first thought too Alison. It’s the principle of, person asks, is responded to with an acceptable “no” and reason why “Pet Free Home” (many kids have allergies), and said person does not respect the hosts wishes.

      Honestly, if someone is nice enough to invite a person to their home, they should respect their wishes, say thank you and follow that up with “is there anything I can bring or anything you need.”

      **** I should share that I don’t have kids and have also had dogs, cats, bunnies, etc. Love them and I consider them part of the family.
      NOTE: They don’t go on family vacations.

    • If someone described their house as a “pet-free home” I wouldn’t probably want to go there personally. I don’t trust people that don’t like animals enough to tolerate them for a couple of hours. I find actual children to be more annoying than animals as well, although I like them well enough too.

      • You are an ill mannered person. I resent that remark. Some women can’t have babies due to infertility so you need to stop being a complete bitch. Sorry but, someone had to say it and no I won’t be pummeling you with a cat scooper I’d pummel you with my actual fists dumbass.

  2. I want to share this so badly, but I’m pretty sure all of my fur parent friends will want to stone me to death for downplaying their “parenting” roles. lol 🙂

    • Catherine L Reply

      Yes! I thought the exact same thing. I’ve just stumbled across this and it totally echoes my thoughts. Would love to share this but the backlash from friends aka ‘fur mothers’ (give me strength) would be unbearable!

  3. Thank you, thank you. I love animals. I cringe at the term “fur-baby”. Because they aren’t babies in fur. They are dogs, or cats, or whatever. If you do not see your dog as a freaking dog you aren’t doing your pet any favors.

  4. Thank you! I love my “fur babies” but they are far from my human baby. Yes, they are both equally destructive and seem to have a common goal of making mommy scream, but they are nowhere near the same. I once had a friend, who had no children, call me and tell me just how upset she was that no one had wished her a happy Mother’s Day because she had “fur babies”.

  5. Hahaha, her dogs opinions of her window treatments! I love my dogs, but their decorative skills don’t hold much water here and yes, they are very different than real kids! Although, both my kids and my pets follow me into the bathroom.

  6. I have a fur baby and there are days I think I love it more than my actual babies but I do know where to draw the line. Before we had a pet, I always deflected the “bring my pet that I think is my child but really isn’t” question by saying that I had no way of knowing whether there were allergies or phobias etc among my other guests, I totally threw my friends under the bus but it worked every time.

  7. What a shame you’re having to hear what sound like fantastically whackadoo stories second hand. But I must say, I agree with you 100%. Sorry, your dog is not your child. If you think it is, well, that’s your business, but please don’t expect me to behave the same way toward your dog as I do toward my friends’ kids. Because that’s not happening.

  8. Um, do what a parent of humans has to do. Hire a babysitter. For your dog…
    I don’t crate or chain up my kids (god I wish I could some days) So no, furbaby does not equal human child.

  9. This really is a great story you’ve shared. Owning a dog can be full of meaning for a pet owner. Other than that you will also going to be more obedient as your pets obeys what you tell them. Giving your pet the love that just like a child is one good thing. A pet has also there own feelings for their owner that can develop from a long relationship.

  10. Reality check…..kids suck…i hate kids….the noise….dirty…nasty and most of all ungratefulness level is unbelievable….then they grow up leave and forget all about u….. cats only good fur baby….
    Dogs are needy and disgustng…
    Ferrets are rats….

  11. High class problem from an obviously snotty stick up the ass cold narcissistic witch.
    Narcissistic women do not like pets they have to pick up after. Dog woman is better without a phony cunt like you as a friend. Who are you to try to figure out people and tell them what is acceptable or not. The world is full of people like you who critique someone else for their own good. Godless witch! What about acceptance?? Dog woman might be a blessing in disguise.

    • Catherine L Reply

      How is she phony?? She was honest and said she didn’t want dogs at her party! Honestly, think you need a large glass of wine and a lie down.

    • Mother of Cats Reply

      Love your comments. I couldn’t have said better. Good one!

  12. cat person Reply

    you’re an self centered idiot who will probably raise obnoxious children

  13. I’m realing from this post ….. life can turn on a pin and your ‘blessed life’ can turn as well …. how disgusting the way you talk about your ‘friend’ and her fur baby … then try to justify your comments by saying it’s too hot outside !!!! Animals are so pure and beautiful, much more so than so many humans and certainly than many kids !!!! Let’s hope your selfish life stays as it is and that you never find yourself in the situation where you will need the comfort and companionship of a ‘fur baby ‘ because you don’t deserve that level of love and loyalty

  14. hahahaha WOW….did you ever stop to think that there are literally millions of loving parental types out there who are physically incapable of having their own human babies, and the next closest option available to them is to adopt an animal in need of a loving home? How lame and offensive of these people to want to save a defenseless creature from being slaughtered, instead of having a “real” baby. I really hope your superior human children grown up to be kinder and more understanding than you are.

    • As someone who was unable to have children Jill Robbins post and the rest of the comments cause my heart to ache. I filled the void of having no children with having some fur babies. Thank you for your kind words and for standing up for us “ weirdos”. To us they truly are our “ babies”. Yes we are fully aware our babies do not Compare to your babies. So nice to be told we are crazy, and a weirdo. My fur baby truly is my baby, he is my everything. Do I wish I had a “real” baby and just a dog. Yes and no. Because to me a dog is not just a dog. Yes I wish I could have both, a baby and my fur baby. But unlike Jill Robbins and the rest of the commenters I am not that lucky. I have to deal with the hand that life dealt me. It’s just unfortunate that I also have to deal with insensitive and cruel comments made by others who will never understand our pain and how that pain is eased by our fur babies.

  15. Seems like a lot of bitterness and as much as I think calling your pet your ‘fur baby’ is utter nonsense, this entire piece was just an excuse to be nasty.

  16. Oookay. I do understand the weirdness of a dog mom talking about her dog’s opinions of home decor. Humanizing our pets is an issue all in its own. But speaking as a queer woman, as part of a group that until recently has not been able to have kids at all and now can only do so in SOME places with active effort and at great personal expense, this post touched a nerve.
    One suggested reason behind the “lesbians having cats” stereotype is that pets were and are a substitute for the human children we could not have. Infertile straight women are in a similar situation and might make similar decisions. If human babies are out of the question, why the hell not regard an animal as like your own child and love it as such? This isn’t the case for everyone (and yes, much of modern pet fancy smacks of privilege and classism) but the condescension of the author’s comparisons between the raising of human kids and the care of a pet is kind of mean. Not to mention people who care for special needs animals which DO require the level of care you’d expect to give a human child.

  17. Mother of Cats. Yes! Mother of Cats! Reply

    I do love my two fur-babies! I do see them and feel as they are my kids, and no one will take that away from me. They have been with me for a long, long time. And for many years, they were the only family I had. How can one disregard the love someone feels for a being that has been part of their lives in a special way? Doing so is selfish, condescending and cruel, at best.

    With all due respect to the so called “real mothers,” motherhood does NOT make someone reach sainthood status! A mother is just a woman that had sex and got pregnant, and that’s it! Many moms – many – think they are some sort of special magic beings that were granted status of demi-goddesses and are beyond any reproach. They live theirs lives stuck on the motherhood/sainthood pedestal and expect everyone to bend to their wishes. I truly feel that they resent that someone, who did not give birth like them, can receive the same title: mother.

    Ms. Robbins and many other people here are missing the point completely. The point is: LOVE IS LOVE, regardless of the object/target of your love, and a social convention on how one should or should not love is not really applicable.

    The only thing I agree regarding the article is that one should have the prerogative to allow /or not allow whomever at their home. I like babies, but I don’t like older kids, so my friends don’t bring their kids to my house. Conversely, I don’t push my fur-babies on them either.

  18. Wow! I can’t believe people are actually criticizing someone for not wanting another person to bring their pet over! I love animals, but it’s not a person’s obligation to allow pets in their home. It’s not even a person’s obligation to allow other people in their home. But lets imagine a hypothetical world where everyone was allowed to bring their pets any place they pleased. What happens when John needs to go to the hospital because of an allergic reaction to Nancy’s cat? Or when Melanie’s dog eats Stephanie’s guinea pig? Brains, people, do you have them?!?

  19. Animals are always welcomed in my house…. little nasty spoiled brats aren’t … Kids are really annoying.
    Agree to disagree.

  20. If you don’t want animals in your home, that’s totally fine & you have every right to say no – but this is a disgusting comment. Some women didn’t get the chance to have human kids. How dare you judge anyone for loving their furbaby. You have no idea what some people go through. You are the type of person that should NEVER own an animal. EVER. I’m seriously questioning your parenting skills due to the fact that you felt the need to write this novel about people that refer to their pets as their “furbaby.” I hope your kids grow up to be more loving & compassionate than you. My advice – be kind & keep your ignorant comments to yourself.

  21. Ayana Cerise Reply

    I will call my cat a baby and consider her my baby just like anyone would for someone or something they love. She is like a daughter to me and I love her as much as I love the humans closest to me. I’ve spent my time with kids, and they suck. Quite frankly, she is better than human babies and humans in general. She isn’t destructive, nasty, noisy, or messy. I have a relationship with her like no other. Who are you to say how much someone can love a pet compared to a child?

  22. I seriously love you, Jill 🙂 I don’t have children or pets and am perfectly happy and content. People who treat their animals like humans/babies are mentally ill.

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