Photo Contests

Kid and Pets Photo Contest
Adoptive Families 2020 Kids and Pets Photo Contest
Share your snapshots of your children posing with the family pet!

Summer Memories Photo Contest
2019 Summer Memories Photo Contest Winners
Meet the winner, Apollo, and the finalists.

Mommy Moments Photo Contest
2019 Mommy Moments Photo Contest Winners
Meet the winners, Christiana, Callie, and their mom, and the finalists.

Daddy Moments Photo Contest
2019 Daddy Moments Photo Contest Winners
Meet the winners, Christopher and his dad, and the finalists.

Kids and Pets Photo Contest
2019 Kids and Pets Fun Photo Contest Winners
Meet the winner, Kathryn, and her dog, Buddy, and the finalists.

Adoption Blog: Improv Mom

My Other Baby

I distinctly remember when it hit me that "my baby" wasn't really my baby (or, for that matter, even human) -- she was my cat, Scarlet. It was the day I brought my real baby, Beth, home from Indiana.

As a longtime animal lover and avid ASPCA giver over the years, it floored me just how quickly my motherly thoughts turned from "my widdle baby girl" to "oh, she's a cat." You see, over the 11 years since I found Scarlet under a park bench in Brooklyn, I've bestowed her with only the best and brightest of human qualities and abilities.

However, once newborn Beth entered the scene, and every other aspect of my life, I no longer found Scarlet's sharp-witted (and clawed) antics -- such as attacking my toes to rouse me from slumber -- funny. Eccentric personality traits once deemed a sign of gifted genius, like licking plastic bags, now just seemed strange and unsanitary. Batting a catnip mouse with her back paw then feinting surprise as if she didn't know she was doing it herself, once labeled "sheer brilliance," now made me think, "brilliant for a cat, maybe."

Please don't get me wrong, I love the not-so-little fur ball, the bunny bear -- the beast -- and anticipated that Scarlet might be, uh…pushed aside. So, before the human baby came home I did my best to let the feline one know what was coming round the bend. Purring and paw-dancing in my lap as I lavished her with caresses, Scarlet seemed to understand that my life, her life, was about to forever change. It seemed to me she was truly valuing our time together. (Now I see she wanted to make sure I could better reach under her chin.) Oh, well. She certainly gets it now.

These days Scarlet can frequently be seen sporting what I call her "sour face" -- ears back, eyes ablaze, glancing warily at the child, uncertain where and when Beth will pounce on her for a full-body hug. I am constantly awed by Scarlet's restraint from eating Beth whole and spitting her out. In fact, I have never seen Scarlet gentler and more tolerant than she is with my nearly-four-year-old child. (I mean, this is a cat that still spits and hisses at my mother, who offers nothing but love and cat treats.)

So, it's fair to say that I've come full circle with Scarlet -- from "my baby" to "the nuisance" back to "baby girl." As I peer at her little puss face, fast asleep and snoring as loudly as my husband, I know that she is, without a doubt, an important member of our family…even if she does poop outside the litter box every so often (which I take as a sign of brilliance).

Related Posts on AdoptiveFamiliesCircle


Barbara, I can empathize. We had a four-legged baby named Bruno in whom we doted. My sister-in-law had a one year old human baby at the same time and it used to infuriate her how we would compare our “baby” to hers in cuteness and tricks. I can understand now…I owe her an apology smile

For a while, after my two kids came along Bruno was just a dog. In fact, there were times when my two were littler that I swore he would go back to the pound if he ate one more diaper! Of course, he never did. But what has been cool is that even though he never went back to being a “baby” and for a while was pretty much neglected of attention and affection, now that my two kids are bigger (5 and 7), he has become “theirs” and they lavish him with affection and attention and they treat him like a baby brother. It has come full circle and I love to watch. My kids don’t know life without him!

By Gaby on Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 12:40 pm.

Barbara, I love this post!  Our seven furbabies were our only children for years.  After adopting two toddlers, the attention they got was slightly less, but the kids made up for it by attempting to play with them (waving a stick in their faces and making the kissy sound).  But after having a baby, those cats were downgraded to just plain nuisance.  I too worried about their status change, but hoped that as she gets older she will begin to love on the cats and play with them like her older brother and sister do.  Now that she is also a toddler, the cats are regaining their foothold as kings and queens of the house.  Unfortunately, we are down to six.  Toby, tied for title of our oldest baby with his brother Buddy, died of intestinal cancer just before Christmas.  I miss his motorboat purr, his 16 pounds draped across my body when I was attempting to sleep at night.  At least my six yo will remember him snuggling with her in her bed.

By housefrau on Monday, February 04, 2013 at 7:25 am.

Thanks for your comments, gals. Gaby, you have given me hope that my daughter will not actually kill Scarlet with her “kindness.”

Housefrau (love that by the way) sorry for your loss. And Scarlet too is firmly regaining her foothold, especially in our bed as she wedges herself in between me and my husband.

By Barbara Herel on Tuesday, February 05, 2013 at 3:08 pm.

Funny… 25 plus years ago when we brought our son home and then continued to grow our family with human babies, our four legged senior dog was pushed aside as no longer the most important “baby” in my world… Now with my children ranging from 13 - 25 years old, all these years later, I am “parenting” a four-legged baby once again, who would have predicted… and she is genuinely the baby of the family and getting all the attention and love from so many!

By AdoptionSTAR on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 3:07 pm.

I too also loved your post.  Unfortunately, I had to banish one of my fur babies outside.  It still breaks my heart to hear him meowing at the door to come in. However, my resolve hardens when I think of poop and pee on mine and my son’s clothes.  The other two have been given safe hidey holes or towers in which to reside while the toddler is awake.  So during the day you wouldn’t know we have cats, then night time (or even nap time comes) and suddeningly there are loving balls of fur prowling around. 

I keep hoping that some day they’ll feel safe enough to return to wanting love during the day hours. However, just last month, my son attempted to removed a cat from her hidey spot.  Something we have told him wasn’t a good idea.  After that lesson he left her alone, but I see he is starting to crawl after her again.  So now she gets more time to herself in Mommy’s room.

The dog also has her hidey spot, but prefers to be the with the family.  So my son is ‘learning’ how to be gentle with her.  =0)

By justaminion on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 4:13 pm.

Oh the little beasties (two-legged ones included)... one day they all will get along. I grew up with dogs and cats (and gerbils and a turtle), plus two brothers and I know for a fact that in my family we will always be babying a cat or two.

By Barbara Herel on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 6:00 pm.

This post made me laugh. We have a couple of cats, taken in before we adopted our son. One of them is very affectionate and demanding and she was always my little baby (we call her the little one, and our other cat is the fluffy one). While she has had to share the baby status with my son she never stopped being the baby in the house. She would wait patiently until he was sleeping to get her attention fix. Now my son is 3 years old and she comes into his room at bedtime and sits with us while we sing songs and read books, almost like she is following the story. She brings our son little presents of cat toys, plays with his toys and sits in his room when he’s not there, almost like she thinks it’s all for her. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s what she thinks. The fluffy one, on the other hand, just hides until our son has gone to bed.

By Birdienumnum on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 6:48 pm.

Oh that’s funny… yes, that’s exactly what she’s thinking… such distinct personalities, just like us people.

By Barbara Herel on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 8:20 pm.

I was worried how my golden retriever would respond to adoption.  He had not been socialized to children.  He was my baby from earliest puppyhood, and he never stopped being my baby as he grew up.  He was wonderful, but perhaps a bit spoiled.  I also had a lab who had been trained as a guide dog, and who was wonderfully socialized (so I wasn’t too worried about him).  I showed the boys pictures of the dogs in the orphanage.  They had never met real dogs. 

When I brought the 1 and 3 year old boys home from Kazakhstan, I had a big gate up so the dogs met them behind a gate.  The dogs were excited as could be to see me after a long absence, and they barked up a storm.  Both human boys were somewhat intimidated by this.  But within 5 days, the dogs and the boys were best friends.  I tried hard to protect each from the other, but honestly, it took no time at all once I went back to work before I would pick up the kids from daycare, bring them home, and the dogs who used to be so excited to see me at the end of the day were running after the boys from the front door into the house and leaving me ungreeted at the door.  They were a solid team.  The golden lived up to his breed reputation beautifully.  Of course the dogs had to share the attention they had gotten by themselves before, but they gained attention from the boys, who had more time to play with them than I did anyway.  Plus there were the first couple months when I was home with the boys—the dogs benefited from that too.

The cats took a little longer to adjust.  There was no banishing of the animals.  The cats self-banished for a little while.  But I had the older boy putting the cat food down for them every morning and every evening, and it didn’t take long before he was part of their world. 

Every night when they were asleep, the cats would get their petting time.

I think it helped that I had more than one dog and more than one cat, so they could entertain each other when I was focused on the kids.  Also, dogs like things like bathtime. (Well, my water-loving dogs did).  It may be easier with dogs than with cats, to make the adjustment.

By kzmom2005 on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 8:08 pm.

Wowawee, Candace! What a happy house full. And happy to hear everyone adjusted beautifully.

By Barbara Herel on Monday, March 04, 2013 at 8:01 pm.

Post a Comment


Commenting is available to registered members only. Please log in or create an account.

Meet the Author

Barbara Herel

Barbara Herel

New York

I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
U.S. Newborn

View Profile »


Find an Adoption Agency

Find an Adoption Attorney or Agency

Search the full directory ►

Recent Adoption Blog Comments