What My Cat Taught Me About Parenting!

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Watching our young cat, which recently had kittens, reaffirmed my beliefs in how best to raise kids. She taught me about parenting and the similarities between all mothers and children whether human or feline.

Much of mothering is instinctual if we just follow it. This was Palette's first time as a mom, but she knew just what to do. Mothers forget to follow their instincts. They must just do what comes naturally. Kittens don't come with a manual, no one explains. She just assumed the mothering role.

Palette wears an expression, which all mothers wear when they look at their babies. It is a look of impossible -to- hide pride in her offspring. The love on her face cannot be denied. She wraps her paws around them giving a group hug that encompasses all three kittens in an embrace that says, "I love you."

Any mother knows tiny babies need communication to thrive. 'Baby talk' originated because parents wish to let babies know mom's loving presence is nearby. We want babies to bond, and come to us upon hearing the special sound only we make. Cats are no different; Palette constantly talks to the kittens. The kittens are assured she is right there.

Often, communication means listening, that lesson tells parents they should talk less and listen more. She hangs on 'every word'; giving special interest to sounds indicating a kitty has found trouble. That sound makes ears prick up, mom is on alert, searching for the location of the sound and rushing to the rescue. Knowing when she is out of her depth, she looks pleadingly for a human, unafraid to admit she needs help.

Good moms know where their children are and what they're 'up to.' Our cat, never lets them out of her sight when they're awake, taking her mothering responsibility very seriously. Her constant observation means she can keep them safe and under control. This felicitous feline focus shows worry and concern for their welfare.

This mom has learned that delicate balance between 'smothering mothering' and knowing how to parent with restraint. When kittens are playful and teasing she just observes until they 'go too far'. She joyously joins in the fun when babies chase around in circles or 'skitter' across the floor. When they sneak up and pounce on mom, she gently bats at them. Her kittens seem to appreciate mom's spontaneity, a concept that alludes some moms.

We fill her dish; she waits to see if kittens want food before she approaches. Backing up, she allows them to eat. Only after their needs have been met does she satisfy her own.

There is love in every touch, bathing, feeding them. But even a loving mom must become firm and unyielding when children misbehave. Clamping down with one paw says it all. "That's enough, mellow out. I'm not putting up with bad behavior." Kittens don't resent it. They always return to her loving presence.

Palette teaches by example, getting into the litter box herself, or showing the path for an excursion. Why do human moms forget the importance of setting an example?

Each one of her kittens is special and she treats them like individuals, spending time with each kitten alone. She does not expect any of her babies to be exactly like their siblings.

And finally, when the babies sleep, this cat knows the value of separating herself for rest and renewal of spirit, because we parents are people too.

A pretty wise mom, our Palette; she taught me a lot.

Credits: Jo Ann Wentzel

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