Susanne Trowbridge

November 15, 1993|By Susanne Trowbridge

IN "The Object of Love" (Other Voices, Nov. 3), writer Terri Combs-Orme took it upon herself to admonish those people who decided to have cats and not children. "Of course it isn't my place to question your love," she wrote, before proceeding to do just that.

My husband and I are the happy "parents" of a cat, whom we adopted from the city animal shelter six years ago, and I was profoundly annoyed by Ms. Combs-Orme's presumptuousness.

"When you see cats outside or at the shopping mall or the local veterinarian's office, do they tug at your heart strings because you wonder if anyone cherishes them as much as you cherish your cats?" she asked.

Well, yes! And while the thought of all the abused, unloved children in the world upsets me a great deal, I am no less moved by the plight of the millions of cats who are euthanized each year after being abandoned by thoughtless owners.

Besides, even my friends who love their kids dearly acknowledge that they can be a burden at times.

My cat curls up contentedly on my lap while I watch "Northern Exposure" or "Murphy Brown," instead of begging me to play his Barney the Dinosaur videotape one more time. He stays indoors all the time, so I never have to worry about my cat falling in with a bad crowd.

My cat is not a fussy eater, and he doesn't demand that I cook him special foods. A scoop of kibble suits him fine.

When I read about the rising costs of college tuition, I don't have to worry that I'm not depositing enough money in my cat's college fund. My husband and I can use our extra income to travel.

I can go to the grocery store or to a movie any time I want, without worrying about finding a reliable baby-sitter for my cat. When I come home, he's waiting patiently in the window.

My cat never nags me to buy him the new toys or snacks he sees advertised on TV. When my cat becomes a teen-ager, he'll never ask if he can borrow my car.

Constantly buying new clothes for my cat is never a worry. He'll never outgrow his handsome coat.

Despite all of this, however, I would never think of trying to persuade my friends to have cats instead of children. There is no more personal decision that a couple can make, and nobody should question someone else's choice.

Just like having a child, getting a cat requires making a serious commitment -- many indoor pets live into their late teens or even early 20s. And there is a definite emotional bond between cats and their owners; two years ago, when my cat underwent surgery to have a malignant lump removed, I prayed for his recovery just as any mother would.

So, fellow cat lovers, don't be bothered by busybodies like Ms. Combs-Orme. Whether you decide to have a child, a cat, or even a few of each, the only important thing is that you feel fulfilled and content. Then, you'll know that you made the perfect -- or is that "purr-fect"? -- choice.

Susanne Trowbridge writes from Baltimore.

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