When adopting pets feels like dealing with children
"Firstborn jealousy" exists even in our furbabiesBy Jacqueline Arias
July 11, 2018 at 5:00 pm

Hay nako. If Jackie can adopt every kitten she sees, she’ll do it,” my mom told her officemate recently. That pretty much sums up my soft spot for these babies—puppies included, but I encounter more stray cats.

Almost a year ago, I adopted my cat, Onyx, from a friend’s friend. Since the day I got her, I’ve been treating her like she’s my child and she would reciprocate by giving cat cuddles. (And playful scratches. Ouch.) I never had a problem with her attitude at all and just saw her as an angel who would do funny, mischievous things sometimes. Until, I took in another kitten for two days.

Last Wednesday, I found a stray kitten—around two to three months old—roaming near a tricycle terminal. I carried her away from the area to somewhere safe and near my house so I could feed her before she leaves. The next morning (Thursday), I found her chilling on a tarpaulin inside our property—she was there until I got home from work. The little one Spider-Man’d her way up our wall.

Of course, the softie that I am, I took her in and told my mom about her. She told me to foster her for a couple of days and she’ll adopt her when she visits us on Saturday. Okay, cool. However, I made the terrible mistake of letting the kitten sleep next to me and not thinking about how Onyx will react.

I mean, how can you just leave this cutie outside?!

According to several cat articles I read, cats HATE it when you place a new cat in their territory. That’s why it’s recommended that you put them in separate rooms and introduce them slowly until they get used to each other’s presence. Else, there will be a hiss fight between them and your first cat will be uncomfortable around their owner.

That’s exactly what Onyx did in the two days I had the kitten. She would hiss and scratch at the kitten AND me. She didn’t want me to carry her, especially when we’re near my room where she can smell the other cat’s scent. It was also a struggle to feed her and she didn’t want to sleep in my room anymore. Onyx’s jealousy was that bad.

Onyx literally ignoring me. *sobs*

“Now you know what it feels like to have another kid,” my boyfriend said. This got me thinking if my future firstborn would act the same way when he/she gets a sibling. Would they need weeks to adjust even when I’ve given them attention for the longest time? Will they stop talking to me for a while too? Oh, God.

I’m a firstborn, too. However, my younger brother and I have a seven-year age gap so when he was born, I accepted the fact that I wouldn’t get all the attention anymore. I thought, “I had seven years to myself. I’ll be fine.” True enough, I never felt any kind of jealousy towards my brother. But I do understand the people who did experience this.

When my mom finally adopted the kitten, Onyx started liking me again. But I had to change my pillow cases, douse my bed with rubbing alcohol, and mop the floor so she could sleep in my room without being hostile. Thankfully, it worked. I actually found myself apologizing to my cat for letting the kitten steal her spot on the bed, even if it’s just for two days.

I don’t plan on having kids yet in the near future. Though the experience with the cats taught me that the idea of having an addition to the family may sound good but also impulsive. I had no plans of keeping the kitten with me permanently, but it did make me think twice about adopting another furbaby again. I’m still open to it, just not right now—and that’s something I should tell myself until the day I decide to start a family.

For now, I’m content with all the cuddles I get from Onyx and I’m okay with having her as my only baby. I just hope she outgrows her “knocks everything over” stage because it’s starting to get annoying.

Art by Marian Hukom

Photo inserts by Jacqueline Arias

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