I read a recent commentary questioning the continuing trend in replacing “pet owner” with “pet parent.” Of course, this naming war has been raging for some time. I can see how “parent” belongs to Homo sapiens (you know, us “people!”). When someone asks if I am a parent, and I reply, “Yes,” the typical follow-up question is, “How many children do you have?” If I replied that I was a parent of six (three kids and three pets), that person would probably wonder how I manage to fit them all in one car, or a two-bedroom house.
Try as we might, who can really parent the felines in the home? Put a cat in time out? Yeah, right … just try to get a cat to sit and stay. How many times have you had that heart to heart with your cat about not sneaking out of the house, to no avail? For the most part, all human reason is lost on kitty ears. I can see the merits of us all being on the same page when we say, “parent.” If I were experiencing a medical emergency and someone yelled out, “Is there a doctor in the house?!” I hope to goodness that those around me would assume that meant a certified M.D. or E.R. doctor, not someone who received a doctorate in philosophical studies.
Then again, I don’t own my pets; no, they pretty much own me. I care for them and I care about them. Someone who lovingly cares for a furred, feathered or scaled animal companion, and loves that pet as much as he or she loves any human, is certainly much more than a possessor of a cat, aka, “an owner.” For anyone reading this, their pets are obviously a bit more than a possession. And putting “pet” right there in front of “parent” avoids any of the confusion listed in the first two paragraphs. So let’s maybe lighten up a bit. Some say that “pet parent” is a creation of the pet industry, a scheme to make us buy more products and services. If we start thinking of ourselves as pet parents, we might feel more obligated to buy them quality food, cushy furnishings and otherwise provide topnotch care for them. Is that so bad?
Perhaps it’s time to add fuel to the fire. Bird owners — make that, bird parents —have come up with the moniker “fids,” which stands for “feathered kids, as in , “These are my fids, Mango and Peaches.” In a similar way, how about “cids” or “kildren?” Or for spoiled, unruly cats … “crats,” as in, “This is Tiger. He can be a little crat when he doesn’t get his way.” Momcat sounds cooler than “pet parent.” … “I’m Momcat to three wonderful felines.” (Sorry, guys, “Dadcat” doesn’t roll off the tongue as well.)