Adulting 101: What being a ‘pawrent’ has taught me about parenting | #parenting


It is 6am. My husband and I are jolted awake, bleary-eyed, by the sound of wailing outside our bedroom door.

This scenario played out almost every day and we were almost at our wit’s end. Then, in the nick of time, a friend’s brother gifted us the holy grail… An automatic feeder.

The wailing culprit is not a child, though we would argue that she is our kid, or rather, furkid. Her name is Biscuit and she is one of three cats that we adopted within the past two years, each with its own unique personalities and quirks.

We got them shortly after getting married in late-2019. It had always been our dream to have pets because our parents had banned them from our childhood homes, apart from the occasional fish or terrapin turtles.

When we got married and moved into our own home, it was understood that we would be adding pets to our living space. 

When it comes to children, however, we are not so firmly decided.

I am at the age where many of my peers are tying the knot and having kids, and although I’ve done the former, I have never had a strong desire to do the latter.

But I am gradually embracing the idea that if it happens, I’ll be okay with it. And this is partly due to my cats — being a “pawrent” has helped me to visualise what life might be like if I ever do become a mother.

A disclaimer: I’m not saying that pets are just like human children. I know they are very different creatures. I am simply saying that there are certain routines I have had to accustom myself to, which have given me a tiny sneak peek behind the child parenting curtain.

Cats have strict feeding schedules, shed fur everywhere, track cat litter all over the floor and often act up whenever they want. They depend on you for almost all their needs, can cost exorbitant amounts of money and when they are young almost every waking moment is spent taking care of them.

After two years as a “pawrent”, one of the biggest things I’ve learned is that things will inevitably go wrong and you have to work with your partner or resentment will breed. It is also impossible for everything to be perfect, no matter what it may look like on social media.

See? There are some similarities.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCES

My husband and I adopted Biscuit and another cat, Bluebell, in 2020. We had only ever fed community cats in our parents’ neighbourhoods on and off, so needless to say, it was initially a bit of a shock to have two little lives suddenly be dependent on us.

Both came to us while suffering from feline flu that they had picked up from their fosterer’s home and required a lot of “sayang”, or care, to get them used to their new environment.

Biscuit, only six months old at the time, was extremely mischievous. In fact, she still is now. 

She is extremely food-driven, hence her wailing for kibble in the mornings, and has broken numerous ceramic food bowls from running around the house at high speeds. We call her the young punk of the household.

When we were stuck at home during the Covid-19 circuit breaker period, she would persistently meow or “cry” whenever we were in virtual interviews or meetings. I once covered a High Court hearing over Zoom and could barely hear the judge speaking over her. We had to put her in lockdown in another room.

Nonetheless, they have brought us so much joy. Our mobile phone photo galleries began bursting with photos and videos of them, and whenever we had a stressful day at work, they would inevitably do something to make us laugh.

We adopted a third cat, Bobby, early last year after finding him wandering around near the peak of Mount Faber. We tried for a while to find out if he was abandoned or had run away from home, and finally got in touch with his feeder, who revealed that his microchip has been issued as part of the trap, neuter and release programme.



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