Wednesday, December 9, 2009

You and Me and a Kitten Makes Three

Howdy readers! Jason here, with my second guest-post of the week. As B mentioned last week, we recently became the proud parents of an adorable 9-month old kitten that we've named Liz Lemon. This is a pretty big moment for me -- I've never been a "cat person"; in fact, I loathed felines while growing up. I thought they were mean, cold-hearted snobs. Then again, I come from a family of dog owners, so there was no precedent for a good relationship with a cat. All I knew was, cats were the opposite of dogs (and dogs were awesome).

Then I had an epiphany while house-sitting for a family friend during my senior year of college. She left me to care for the household pets while she went away for two weeks, and the cat -- who had previously given me nothing but cold shoulders and stink-eyes -- started to show some warmth towards me. Eventually, she slept on my feet in bed and curled up in my lap on the couch. Since then, I've discovered that cats are not objectively better or worse than dogs. They just have a different approach to emotion and affection, and you must change your expectations to suit their behavior. You can't expect a cat to enjoy endless hours of petting and playing, or to obey your commands like a dog would. But once you engage a cat on its own terms, you'll find it can be just as playful, loyal, and affectionate as a good dog (although it will NEVER play fetch with you, ever).

I learned all of this before we got Liz Lemon. But each day with her brings new discoveries. First and foremost is the slowly-dawning realization that Liz is part of a brand-new family B and I are starting together. She is the first little life that we're responsible for, and this is the closest we've come to feeling like parents. The "parent factor" wasn't our primary motivator for getting a cat, but it's a truth that feels really significant when I stop and think about it. I mean, this cat will be around when we have our first (human) child. Our kids will grow up with Liz Lemon, and we'll have to explain that Mommy and Daddy really liked this TV show called "30 Rock" back in the late 2000s. The cat represents one definite component of the unwritten future that we're building together. We've made a commitment to Liz, and in doing so we've deepened our commitment to each other and our relationship.

Coming so close on the heels of Thanksgiving (where B spent several days immersed in my Houston family) and approaching Christmas (where I will join B and her fam in their annual holiday traditions), it's remarkable to think that something as simple as a pet kitten can represent a major step into unifying our two lineages and creating a new branch of the family tree. Just like any life, Liz's years will be filled with hopes and challenges, ups and downs. But B and I will see it through together, sharing all the feelings that go along with it. And someday in the not-too-distant future, we'll experience similar things, multiplied by a thousand, when we have a real human child. Hopefully our time as cat-parents will teach us some helpful lessons so that we can be the best Mom and Dad possible.

One thing's for sure -- if we heap as much love & affection on our future baby as we do on Liz Lemon, that kid is gonna be one happy little stinker! It's too bad I won't be able to torment him/her with a laser pointer...


  1. Awwwwwwwww love this post. Our Susan looks a little bit like Liz Lemon, and she actually will let you cuddle her for hours (she is cuddling in my arms as I type this, with great difficulty!). Cats are surprising creatures; have fun getting to know yours!

  2. liz lemon is adorable. and her name rocks. and i know just what you mean about getting a pet together. it's a bigger commitment than at first perceived. because you're right - our cats will be with us for the next 10+ years and they will experience adjustment to life changes right alongside us - babies, a new home, another pet, etc. it's a joint commitment to take care of a living thing. and that's a big deal. so enjoy being kitty parents together - and try not to be like us and fight over who's on litterbox duty ;)

  3. Jason, you continue to amaze me with your writing ability. And I love this post as much as yesterday's. I grew up with a father who was a cat person for sure. He lives in Houston now where I hear he has 20 freaking cats he takes care of in and around his house! But we only had 3 at the most growing up. Funny thing was, as soon as I was on my own, I wanted no pets around. I am too much of an organized freak to want to deal with annoying pet hair and daily feedings and such. And the torture that some kitty's bring when they destroy furniture and belongings (thus declawing was a necessity for us). However, my future hubby has a pit bull. I have NEVER been a dog person...but when we first started dating that freaking dog just made me fall in love with him. He is 'ours' now that we are getting married and I can't imagine our life (or our house) without him. He has even taken to my 14 year old daughter and will protect me and her from my honey whenever he tries to playfull wrestle with us. Funny how animals show their loyalty and affection. :)

  4. i remember feeling like a family for the first time when we went on our first trip with our first dog. so surreal to think of our pets being around when we have kids. enjoy your liz lemon. i'm sure she is as quirky and fun as the real character!

  5. She is so sweet. You can teach a cat to fetch you know... you should give it a try.

    Best of luck with your new fur child.

  6. Love the name. 30 rock... well ROCKS! We got a kitten when we first started dating (before we knew) the implications of our relationship on this little life. But thankfully everything worked out with us and Oscar still has two loving parents


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