By Melissa Mezzalira Founder & CEO of CatsEssentials
Today, we celebrate Mother’s Day and all of the beautiful people who classify themselves as the matriarchal leaders of their households. I pride myself in being a mother, but not in the traditional sense. My two beloved cat children– Maya and Baby– are the light of my life and the inspirations behind my creation of CatsEssentials. Because of them, I remain committed to providing comfortable, stress-free experiences for cats everywhere through my modern luxury organic products, which emanate from my philosophy on nurturing my feline “family” as a companion-in-chief, and not an owner.
The reason why I hate the term “cat owner” (or the term “pet owner,” in general) is because it devalues the independence and individuality of each cat by connoting an inanimate possession, which is customarily used to describe property. For decades, I would cringe at the mere sound of the word “owner” whenever someone would describe their supervisory relationship to their cat. Perpetuating the use of the term diminishes a cat’s identity as a living, breathing soul with a distinct personality, and extracts any emotionality from the familial ties that bind us to them. The term belittles the tangible bonds we share with our cat companions and the roles they play in providing joy, happiness, and satisfaction in our lives. We as humans don’t own our cats and they are not a commodity. Rather, we have accepted responsibility for ensuring their safety and well-being, all while offering loving attention in the same manner in which a parent would care for a child.
Though many would attest to my very vocal aversion to using the term “cat ownership” in my company’s marketing collateral and daily conversations, I still debate over my preferred term to use when referring to the human-cat bond I hold so dear to my heart. A recent trend that has surfaced entails people treating their pets as a valued member of the family nucleus, which should help us transition to normalizing collective terms such as “cat guardian,” “cat caregiver” or “cat parent.” Though we are obviously not the biological parents of our cat children, the emotional attachment we develop through our relationships with them forges a bond that’s just as strong as what’s shared between a parent and a child. Such an attachment has allowed for the emerging popularity of affectionate titles such as “Cat Mom” or “Cat Daddy,” which reflect the elevated level of respect we have acquired for our furry friends.
As I contemplate the true meaning of Mother’s Day in relation to my role as a luxury “Catpreneur,” I am heartened by my fellow cat parents who have admirably embraced our feline companions as sentient beings who should be held in high regard. While historically traditional in nature, using the word “owner” to describe our sacred relationship with our cats undercuts the sentiment we all strive to convey when describing our pet babies. In this regard, we must insist upon using language and terminology aligning with the high level of respect we uphold for our cat children.
Now’s the time to sound off and share your thoughts! How do you describe your relationship to your cats? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback.