Wednesday, 17 August 2011

I'm not your 'mummy'!

I’ve just come back from the vets.

Yes I’m fine, thank you; glossy hair, bright eyes, cold nose. I am poorer, mind you, but that’s another story. My slobby moggy had his booster injection and annual lecture about his girth. But while he might have been the fattest cat in the surgery, for once he wasn’t the biggest. That honour went to a gorgeous ‘British Blue’. No, I’d never heard of the breed either, but here's a picture from Wikipedia, taken by Morgan Leigh. Awww!

The ‘Blue’ was a handsome, but rather cantankerous looking feline, the sort that would maul your hand if it didn’t want to be petted. Its owner, a glamorous beautician worried about being late for work, chatted away, but was quivering with nerves at the prospect of leaving her darling kitty for an operation.

“He keeps looking at me as if to say ‘please don’t leave me mum’,” she sighed. I made clucking noises about how it (the cat) would be fine, but then someone else started telling their puppy “it’s all right, mummy’s not leaving you for the day.”

‘Mummy’? I’ve never understood the ‘mummy’ thing with pets. I thought it was something women do to fill the gap left when their offspring leave home, but it’s actually quite widespread. And you’d be mistaken in assuming this is a female thing. I know one chap who doesn’t even flinch when he refers to himself as his cat’s ‘daddy’.

There are two distinct types of pet owner here: the ones whose pets are just animals who happen to live with them, and the others who baby their pets as though they were small children. I have never been the latter. People will make a fuss of dog-of-small-brain while we’re out walking, and say “off you go then, enjoy your walk with your mum.” To which I have to restrain myself from yelling “Mum? Do I look like I gave birth to that mutt? I’m not his ‘mum’, I’m his owner.”

A quick trawl of the internet unearths articles by both bloggers and columnists debating whether it’s ethical to describe yourself as ‘owning’ your pet, which strikes me as political correctness gone mad in the minds of people with too much time on their hands. Yes, I’m not going to claim I ‘own’ any of my pets in a spiritual sense, but I do fork out an awful lot of cash for their board, lodgings and healthcare, and it's me who will take the rap if they bite anyone. That, in my opinion, qualifies me as ‘owner’. But I am not, under any circumstances, ‘Mummy’, thank you very much!

I would carry on ranting that referring to yourself as your pet’s parent devalues parenthood, but I think it’s probably time I got off my soapbox and made a nice calming cup of tea. ‘Mummy’ indeed….(snorts)


  1. I drew the line when my daughter-in-law started talking to her dog, referring to me as Grannie! I quickly pointed out that there is no way I am Grandmother to a dog!

  2. Libby, 'granny' does seem to be taking it a bit too far!!

  3. I think there is plenty of middle ground between "the ones whose pets are just animals who happen to live with them, and the others who baby their pets as though they were small children."

    I mean no disrespect to parents of real, human children, but I often refer to my pups as my girls [or my babies] and occasionally to myself as their daddy. I'm well aware that in a legal sense I am their owner, but there is an emotional attachment between me and the pups that doesn't exist with my other possessions like my house, car, or computer. [OK, I have an emotional attachment to my computer, but that is completely one-sided. My computer never expresses joy at being with me as I do at being with it. On the other hand, the pups are happy to see me every single day.]

    Sure, the responsibilities of having pets are far less than having children [yet more than having houseplants]. That's one of the reasons I have pets and not children. [Please do not ask me about my houseplants. You can never prove I ever had any houseplants and if I had, they were suicidal when I got them.] Also, I do not humanize the mutts. I never dress them in coats or boots or hats -- not even for Halloween. But they are indeed adopted members of my family.

    I certainly respect your opinion though and I will try never to make the mistake of referring to you as the Mummy of your dog-of-small-brain or your slobby moggy. Those are really cute pet names, BTW.

  4. Tim, I am, it seems, totally in the minority camp here!! So while I might not join in with the 'mummy' thing, I will manfully accept and respect the views of other pet owners! And yes, cute pet names: guilty as charged your honour...


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